Exhibit on Sister Miriam Gallagher, RSM (1887-1966)

Sara Shields

For my internship this semester with the Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle Archives, my final project was a small digital exhibit on Sister Miriam Gallagher, RSM (1887-1966).

Sister Miriam Gallagher was a dedicated professor of literature, creative writing, library science, and romance languages at College Misericordia. At the college, she served as the Librarian from 1928 to 1938, the Publicity Director from 1930 to 1940, and as the Chair of the English Department for one term. Sister Miriam was known as a prolific writer and editor of national renown, having authored two of her own volumes, Love Is Enough: New and Selected Poems and Woven of the Sky. She also edited Cedar Chips by Father Patrick Augustine Sheehan. In addition to her own books, she was also heavily involved in the student literary journal, Thinker’s Digest, and served as its editor from 1940 to 1957.

In order to prepare for the exhibit, I wrote a biography on Sister Miriam, compiled objects that I wanted to include, and wrote the metadata for those objects. After I completed those tasks, Maureen (the MU archivist) introduced me to Omeka, a digital publishing platform.

I had previously learned of Omeka in the past, however, I had not utilized it myself yet. I was surprised at how incredibly user-friendly it was! Since I already had the metadata for the objects, entering them into Omeka was very simple. Here you can see a few of the fields required for the metadata:

The fields required included: the title, subject terms, description, creator, date, and item type.

Once I uploaded all of the items and completed inputting the metadata for them, I began to design the exhibit. I specifically wanted to focus on Sister Miriam’s writing career, so the items I included were scans of the covers of Love Is Enough and Woven of the Sky, as well as the covers of three volumes from the Thinker’s Digest. Since this exhibit was on a single case, it was small, but displayed the impact that Sister Miriam left on Misericordia.

This internship, especially this project, gave me valuable experience with digital exhibits and metadata standards. Omeka is widely used in the field of public history so I was happy to gain some experience with it, as well as learning about Dublin Core, the standard for metadata. This is my third digital exhibit that I’ve curated within my time at Misericordia, and each time I feel like I learn more and more.

You can view this exhibit on Sister Miriam Gallagher, RSM here.

MU Archives Week 14

Sara Shields

Looking back on my internship with the Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle Archives this semester, one of my favorite tasks was transcribing oral histories for the Center for Nursing History of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Being able to listen to the nurses’ experiences at Misericordia was very interesting! They had tons of fun stories that were entertaining to listen to, and they were also very informative about what Misericordia was like when they attended school here. From listening to them, I can see how much the university has grown over the past fifty years. It was amazing to hear about their experiences and compare them to mine, and other students today.

As I mentioned in a previous post, transcribing oral histories is very important. Accessibility is incredibly important in the field of public history as it allows us to reach broad audiences and distribute information easily. While transcription would get tiring at some times (pausing, rewinding, editing, etc.), I really enjoyed listening to the stories of former nurses who attended Misericordia, while also gaining experience and learning new skills.

MU Archives Week 10

Sara Shields

Lately I have been working on an exhibit about Sister Miriam Gallagher, RSM, for the library & archives. It’s been interesting to learn about the Sisters of Mercy at Misericordia; I feel like students don’t know a lot of information about them. Sister Miriam Gallagher was the College Librarian, the College Publicity Director, and she also served a term as the Chair of the English department. She was a dedicated poet and an author of national renown, who also had correspondence with other authors both nationally and internationally. As an English professor, she was responsible for the founding of multiple college publications, including The College Misericordia Digest and The Thinker’s Digest: A Quarterly of Spiritual Readings. Some of Sister Miriam’s poems and sonnets were also included in issues of The Litany, which was actually the yearbook.

I’m happy to be learning the history of the Sisters who founded Misericordia. It is important to remember the dedication and hard work they put into Misericordia, as well as the legacies they left behind.


MU Archives week 5

Sara Shields

This week, Maureen has introduced me to Omeka, an online system used for digital collections and exhibits. The university archives uses Omeka to host their current and past digital exhibits. It’s very user friendly! Currently, I’m getting used to using it and the features that it offers. I will be using Omeka for the exhibit that I’m curating on Sister Miriam Gallagher, RSM. It will be a small, but descriptive, exhibit on her and her life, along with her legacy at Misericordia, and her impact on the university.

I’m happy that I’m learning more about digital collections and gaining experience with them because it’s becoming more and more important to know how to work with them. I feel that with my past internship, previous courses I’ve taken, and my current internship with the university archives, I’m learning so much that will equip me with the necessary skills that I’ll need after I graduate!


MU Archives Week 4

Sara Shields

Lately I have been working on the Sisters of Mercy project that I previously mentioned in my last post. This has been very interesting to work on because prior to this project, I was fairly unfamiliar with the Sisters of Mercy and their lasting impacts on the university. This week I have been writing biographies for seven Sisters of Mercy that influenced Misericordia. They include: Sister Annunciata Merrick, Sister Catherine McGann, Sister Marianna Gildea, Sister Eulalia Herron, Sister Celestine McHale, Sister Mary Glennon, and Sister Miriam Gallagher. Along with writing biographies on them, I have been compiling metadata on the pictures and objects in the archives that will be used for the institutional repository.

I have also started considering the topic of an exhibit that I will be curating on the Sisters of Mercy. It will be a small online exhibit using sources from the MU Archives. I am excited to be curating another exhibit after finishing one last semester. Along with this exhibit on the Sisters of Mercy, I will also be curating another for HIS 492: History in the Professions Thesis, a class I am taking this semester. I am happy to be gaining this much experience!

MU Archives Week 3

Sara Shields

Lately I’ve been transcribing oral histories for the Center of Nursing History of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Listening to these stories has been incredibly interesting and enlightening. I finished editing and transcribing an oral history from 2016, and I am almost done with one from 2017 which includes two women who graduated from Misericordia in the 1950s.

While listening to these oral histories, I’ve started to feel like I was with with the interview participants hearing their stories. They provide such great detail and emotion, so you really start to feel a connection to their stories. I’ve also learned more about how the field of nursing has evolved since the 50s, so it’s really interesting to hear their perspectives.

Once I am done with the oral history from 2017, I will be starting on a project about the Sisters of Mercy at Misericordia; their lives, legacy, and the lasting impact they had on the university. I will be writing biographies for them by pulling information from sources that are currently in the archives. I am excited to start on this project to learn more about the Sisters of Mercy and their role in shaping the university to what it is today.

MU Archives Week 2

Sara Shields

This week has been very interesting! I started transcribing oral histories for the Center for Nursing History of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m not very familiar with the field of nursing, but it’s interesting to listen to these interviews and hear about the history of the field and experiences from former nurses.

Transcribing oral histories are important for accessibility. For example, transcription makes oral histories available to those in your audience who may be hard of hearing and/or unable to hear. Accessibility plays a huge role in public history because you want to be able to get as much of your material to your audience as possible. This is also why metadata and finding aids are important; it allows materials to be easily accessible for your audience.

The oral histories that I have been working on this week include retired nurses reflecting on their time at Misericordia, the field of nursing itself, and how it’s changed. I think that their stories are incredible and very interesting to listen to. After going through photos from the collection last week, their stories provide a lot of context, especially to someone like me who is not very familiar with the field.

Along with the oral histories, Maureen has been giving me tips on how to read job listings, things to consider when looking at graduate schools, etc. These tips are incredibly helpful, seeing as though these things can come off as daunting when you first start looking for jobs and graduate programs.

MU Archives Week 1

Sara Shields

This semester I am interning with the Sister Mary Carmel McGarigle Archives here at Misericordia. I’m very excited to learn more about archives and gain experience on what exactly archivists do. This week we’ve started off with some readings on memory, and the symbolic significance of archives. This material is familiar to me after taking HIS 341: Introduction to Public History last semester. I recognize a lot of the terms and definitions, so having taken HIS 341 last semester is really helpful. In addition to those readings, I have also been learning about finding aids, arrangement, and description. The readings that I have been assigned are very helpful and explain these terms in a practical manner. Description and arrangement are important because first, you must determine and explain the context and content of your material, and then arrange it in a way that exhibits a pattern among the material. The purpose of arrangement and description is to promote access to your materials. Finding aids are also important in this process, as they help your audience find information and material.

I have also been creating posts for The Center for Nursing History of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Facebook page. The University Archives holds this collection to collect and provide access to the history of the nursing profession in Northeastern PA. It’s been very interesting to go through the collection and have the opportunity to ask the members of the Facebook page questions about the photographs. I am very excited to hear their answers to my questions! Social media is a good way to reach your audience and engage with them, especially in a time like this.

Overall, this week has been great and I’m excited to experience and learn more about archives!

HIS 440: Public History Practicum Reflection

I really enjoyed having the opportunity to create my own exhibit this semester in HIS 440. While it seemed daunting at first and difficult at times, I am very happy with how this course went and how the exhibit turned out overall. It was also great to learn about what goes into creating an exhibit, and I think that taking HIS 341: Introduction to Public History at the same time was really beneficial.

The readings and course materials used at the beginning of the semester were definitely helpful in building a foundation for the exhibit. Prior to this class and HIS 341, I had never learned about the field of public history in any of my other history courses. I never realized how much thought has to go into creating an exhibit prior to this semester, so the readings from the textbook, as well as the case studies, really helped me understand the process.

Sara Shields

After the introductory readings it was time to get started on the research and writing part of the course. At first, I had no clue what I wanted the topic of the exhibit to be. Knowing that it could be almost anything I wanted, the possibilities were endless. After choosing my topic, I got started on the research. This definitely seemed difficult at first, but once I familiarized myself with my secondary and primary sources, it was really enjoyable. The order in which assignments were due couldn’t have been better. Starting with the annotated bibliography, I used each assignment from the previous week to help me in the next one. By the end of the course, all of my research was laid out in front of me and all I had to do was piece it together for the final exhibit. This helped me realize that when you have a difficult task, you just need to trust the process. When I saw all of the assignments on the syllabus, I thought they would be impossible to complete. However, each assignment I completed made the next one easier.

I thought that every component of the class was great. Even though this semester was different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it didn’t have much of an effect on this course. We met weekly over Zoom and Dr. Black gave me feedback on all of my assignments very quickly. The feedback I received was extremely helpful and made me think more about the decisions I was making for the exhibit. The only thing that may have gone different if we weren’t currently going through a pandemic was that the exhibit probably would have been in-person and not digital. However, I think that the exhibit still turned out great despite it being digital. Many museums and institutions are doing online tours and exhibits right now because of COVID-19, so I think that it was important to learn about how museums are adapting to this difficult time.

Overall, this course has probably been one of my favorites. It gave me hands-on experience and equipped me with skills that I will need in my future career. As I said previously, taking this class concurrently with HIS 341: Introduction to Public History was very beneficial because each week in HIS 341, I learned new information that was helpful in creating my exhibit. I would recommend this course to anyone who is interested in or wants to know more about the field of public history.

Final Week at AHM

Volunteering at this Anthracite Heritage Museum this semester has been a great experience. While it was different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I still had the opportunity to learn a lot of useful information that will benefit me in my future career. I am a senior History Major with a specialization in Public History at Misericordia University, and volunteering at AHM helped me learn about what goes on in a museum that visitors don’t see. 

    Throughout the semester, I did a lot of work on the Argus database. It was very interesting to learn about the process of cataloguing new objects and artifacts. I also really enjoyed learning about the accession and deaccessioning process. While volunteering with AHM, I was also taking an introductory course on public history. For a lot of the material we discussed in class, I experienced it first hand at the museum. This was very beneficial for me, because I was learning about it in class and getting hands-on experience at the same time. 

    One of the tasks I had while volunteering with AHM was reading through answers to a questionnaire that was sent out by the Lackawanna County Historical Society concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and how county residents have been affected. I read through the responses and determined keywords that came up often. I really enjoyed this because it is important to document and record exactly what we are experiencing this year. Future students, researchers, and historians will look back and wonder what we struggled with, how we adapted, and how we felt during the year 2020. By documenting the public’s responses, this will help those in the future understand our lives and what we went through this year. 

    Overall, volunteering at AHM was a great experience. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to do it and learn valuable information that will help me after I graduate.