Announcement: HIS 462: Visual Culture and the Misericordia Archives

The collections of the Misericordia Archives are a microcosm of women’s lives in the twentieth century United States.  This service-learning project in the fall of 2017 enabled students to situate the rich history of campus life within broader events taking place in the United States. The entries below comprise students’ reflections on this experience.

Announcement: Interns’ Corner Blog

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Students in Dr. Black’s HIS 341 course (fall 2015) processing archival material in the MU archives

Misericordia regularly sends our students out into the community to build their professional experience and serve others.  Since 2016, MU has sent several students to internships in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Scranton, PA; and Eckley, PA.  Read more about our students’ work in area historic sites, museums, and other related public history endeavors below.

Announcement: Anthracite Photographers

In the summer and fall 2018, I partnered with the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton, PA, to co-curate an exhibit on mining photography.  My co-curators (AHM Director Bode Morin, and AHM Curator John Fielding) and I wanted to capture the ways in which photography has served to document, memorialize, and preserve Anthracite mining and mining culture, from the beginnings of the Anthracite industry in Northeast PA in the nineteenth century through today.

The resulting exhibit, Anthracite Photographers: Photographers of Anthracite, brought together the work of nine photographers who documented the Anthracite Region, including Lewis Hine, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Bernd and Hilla Becher, George M. Bretz, Watson Brunnell, William Herman Rau, George Harvan, John Horgan Jr., Scott Herring, local press photographs, and the photographers of the Federal Government’s HABS-HAER project.  We examined the collective contributions of these artists and practitioners, and the ways in which their work catalyzed social action, served industrial purposes, and memorialized NEPA’s post-industrial landscape.  The exhibit opened December 1, 2018, and featured a companion exhibition catalog.  The exhibit is scheduled to be on-view at the Anthracite Heritage Museum through 2021.

–Jennifer M. Black, Assistant Professor of History, Misericordia University


 


 

Misericordia University History major Sarah Sporko provided crucial support throughout the duration of the project, with funding from Misericordia’s SURF program for the summer months.  Sarah’s blog, reproduced below, chronicles the project’s completion through her internship in the fall of 2018.  For more information on Misericordia University’s public history opportunities, visit misericordia.edu/history.

Internship 7 & 8

These past two weeks have been a whole new type of stressful, with internship and without internship. I fell ill and was quarantined for a few days on top of everything that needed to be done, then everything was transferred to online work for school and the VA has been super active combatting the new pandemic.

So I still haven’t attended weekly meetings because I feel like learning psychology is more important and they completely understand and agree. But, the stress comes with checking the online comments for both Facebook and Twitter. With the new pandemic and my team working in healthcare, the comments are more active and plentiful than before.  I reached out to my advisor and cut my hours down to only check it three times a day, but there are still too many to handle. So, Robin, my boss, started going on assisting more and all I have to do is let her know when I can’t and she helps and understands.

I also had a nice conversation on life with Debi about everything that has been happening. She wanted to gauge my stress levels and make sure I wasn’t being over burdened with work during this time. Everyone is so nice and understanding, even though they themselves are stressed to the max and in meetings all day long.

I was assigned half of a project with Blake and Jenny as lead. I was to take 134 websites and use Site Improve to find all the broken links, create the report and send it to them. They are losing access to the tool to find the links so it was a rushed project with no time to waste. I was working with Issac, another intern, who had his own 134 websites to do. I was panicked because Blake said mine didn’t look like previous ones done by Issac. So I did them all and submitted and compared to Issac’s and looked for the issue. I followed directions perfectly and it looked weird in the report, but Issac’s report was cleaner. I found after messing around in the site, that if I didn’t check mark a box it would look like his, so either the instructions were wrong or one of us messed up. I was stressed out and wanted to know if I needed to redo them, because it took forever. After discussing with Blake, we realized that mine had slightly more information within it and that is better, so I was good.

 

So, in turn all my projects for the VA are completed and submitted and I can continue checking comments and wait for the next project to come!

Week 6

The week after Spring Break, was a lot more eventful than anyone could have predicted. Wednesday, was the only day that was like any of the others from the previous week. I would go to the Historical Society and would examine the files of whatever folder I was sifting through. I finally managed to complete the folder for 1834 as well as the second box and could now move onto the third. However, later that day, every student had gotten an email that told students to leave campus because of the coronavirus epidemic. By working with Dr. Black and my father, I learned from Amanda that there was remote work I could do to complete my internship. On Friday, she told me that when I got off campus I had to write down the names on the list I had received. Amanda also told me that she would make sure to send me any articles she could find about Maxwell via email. She also advised me to get a book titled “History of Luzerne County” on Google Books to help me out during my research. That said I managed to start box three and immediately worked on the folder for 1835. I managed to complete a good portion of the documents and made sure to transcribe them as best as I could. One thing that I noticed about these documents was that their dates were easier for me to notice than the previous documents. It made it easier for me to notice if any of these documents were from the year 1835, and only two of them were displaced from the 1838 folder. Finally, on Saturday, after a long flight, I managed to complete the names for 1835 before getting some work done for 1836. To conclude, despite the change of locations, I managed to work on my internship while being away from Luzerne County.

Internship Spring 6 and 7

Ashleigh RoseThese past two weeks of my internship have been nothing less than busy. After I handed in my project to Robin, I was recruited to answer some questions for Blake and then scheduled a conference call with Robin and Blake. Robin is the team member leading my division of interns. The meeting went very well and they would like me to continue to volunteer after this semester, with more access to the systems. I would be excited if this leads into a possible job position for me in the VA after graduation, so I will continue to work hard.

On top of the meetings and questions, I am in full swing with reviewing the comments/mentions/shares etc for the main VA Facebook and Twitter pages. By reviewing, I mean reading each one to see if it warrants a response or more attention. I either leave for review and assign the comment out or close the comment down. I also tag each post in relation to what it is, tags includes items like PTSD, Suicide, Corona Virus, General comment, Complaint, etc. This project is time consuming so when I first did my schedule I didn’t realize how often I was on. I now check three times a day throughout the work day and keep everything as updated as possible. Maria who was in charge of this project is now on maternity leave, so now I report to Debi.

 

There still has been no word on the other project from Maria, so its on the back burner until further notice. I look forward to what’s to come.

Internship Spring Week 5

Ashleigh RoseThis last week for my internship has been super busy. I finished up a project for Robin ( who is the new David) and I officially started reviewing all comments for Facebook and Twitter for the VA. This project is not particularly hard but it is long and time consuming. I need to go to each comment/share/retweet/ mention on Facebook and Twitter and review it. By reviewing I mean tag what it is or relating to and determine if it needs a response back. If it doesn’t I can close out the comment with just the tag, if it does I need to assign a priority level and a person to comment back. I am still getting used to what warrants a response back and what tags to use, but its coming more naturally now that I have been doing it. I’m not required to do it over the weekend but when I logged in today it took over an hour to cover all related things just on Twitter. I casually hop on throughout the day, because Robin can see how often I am on and how many I’m doing per day. I’m not required an hour count but am required to keep up with the comments through the week.

 

Week 5

On Wednesday, I finally managed to complete the folder for 1833. One of the more interesting things that I examined was that Maxwell had been in correspondence with John Dement. Dement was the Treasurer of Illinois at the time the letter was written. I could not make out the writing of the letter, but it was interesting to see that Maxwell had been talking to someone from a faraway state like Illinois. Although after some research I did learn that Chicago was founded that year, so it is possible the letters relate to that notable point. As to why Maxwell was invested in that, I have no idea. On Friday, I began to work on the folder for 1834. One document that I noticed was that Maxwell was still in charge of the finances of Ebenezer Bowman’s estate long after he died. It is also possible that Maxwell had been working with a relative of Ebenezer named Issac. It is likely that Isaac was Ebenezer’s son who inherited the estate following his father’s death. What was also interesting is that the letter mentions the year he died, 1829, was a year of political struggle. The struggle was between James W. Bowman (possibly Isaac’s brother) and George Dennison against the administration of someone named Thomas W. Miner. I could not find any information about Miner, so I am unsure of what kind of political role he had like mayor or district attorney. However, I thought it was important to bring up as it did provide a brief amount of information regarding the history of the county. Finally, on February 22, I managed to get as much work done for the 1834 folder as I could. Most of the documents I looked at were financially based as usual, and I could not make out anything as interesting as the previous days. With that said, I plan to finish the 1834 folder by Wednesday of next week and start the next box too.

Internship Spring

Ashleigh RoseThis past week has been super busy for me in the internship and with school; it seems like everything always happens at once. But with that being said, I am super excited about my new project with the VA. I was recently trained to use Social Studio which handles the VA Facebook and Twitter pages. On one of my older projects, I used this tool to gather data and create a pitch for postings, but now I actually get to engage and go through comments on both feeds. I will be going through and classifying them and distributing them to be taken care of if necessary.

I was also assigned a project due tomorrow morning to verify all the VAMCs are standard with their disclosure statements on their individual websites. This project takes time and patience as things load and locating where the info is. I have to answer five questions and match theirs with the standard and submit.

I have one project on the back burner and am still waiting for directions on what to do. They keep cancelling the meetings so I have been using that time to do the ongoing projects and catch up on them.

Week 4

On Wednesday, the twelfth of February, I finally managed to complete the folder for 1832. As always, most of the documents I looked at were financial in content. For example, one of them was a bill for a court case regarding two men, Peter Allenback against George Stout. The year took me around four pages to fully record it. By the time I finished the folder it was just about time for me to leave. When I returned on Friday, I immediately began to work on the next year of 1833. I looked at the sheet, which had the names of those who were supposed to be in the folder. While not as long as the previous year it was still fairly long. One of the more notable documents I found was a case involving a woman named Olive Whitney. The name was familiar to me and after typing up her surname in the search bar of the document, there was a letter from her the previous year. Apparently, the case was centered around the inheritance of her husband and she was in a legal battle with his former business partners, Benjamin Stephens and Edwards. While I could not fully read the document, it stated that Whitney was a rather successful businessman and that the case was about how much money Olive was supposed to get for the inheritance. After documenting around thirty-three documents, it was time for me to head back to Misericordia. Finally, on Saturday, I found some letters from two familiar names that caught my attention. One of them was from John Wolfenberger who seemed to be a partner of sorts to Maxwell. The two letters stated that he was glad that Maxwell managed to secure payment from someone known as George Oyster. I did some online research and found a George Oyster who could possibly be the one from the letter mainly because he was born in Pennsylvania. The only thing against it is that he died in Washington DC and spent the last sixteen years of his life there. Though, I suppose it is possible that Maxwell could have traveled to DC in order to collect the payment. There was also the last will and testament from Caroline Dennison. Caroline was possibly the wife or sister of George Dennison who was a frequent correspondent of Maxwell. I believe that this shows how close Dennison and Maxwell were.

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