Where do you study, what is your concentration, and what do you hope to learn at the Ridgefield Historical Society?
I’m in Smith College, in Massachusetts, class of 2023. I’m a History major with a focus on the Medieval world. I minor in art and concentrate in museum studies. For this internship my main goal is to learn as much as I can about the different facets of museum upkeep, preservation, and life. I want to know how the undercurrents of museums function, and how best to help with issues like grants, volunteering, and accessioning (among other things).
I do not live in Ridgefield, but I do live nearby! I had heard of the Ridgefield Historical Society before my internship, but I had never been involved with you before now. This is is my foray into the deep end!
What are you doing this month? What has been interesting thus far?
This month I’m helping in the archives. I’m working to digitise the records mostly, as I add information collected by our researchers and accession our vast collections so that everyone can see them from the website onwards! I’m also volunteering in other locations that need some extra hands, like researching pensioners or helping catalogue items. All of it has been extremely valuable to me and deeply interesting, but I have to say getting to understand the Past Perfect system has been my favourite thing so far!
In school, you are majoring in medieval history and art. Fascinating! What do you like most about these lines of study?
What I love about my studies is that it’s so different from what we imagine about that time period. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of our more general concepts hold water (the ideas had to come from somewhere after all), but the specific social rules, religions, politics, expectations, and even geological certainties that made up the past are so much more nuanced than any one high school class can give them credit for! I love uncovering new depth in an area that by all accounts has been studied front and back, and we can still find more! To me, it’s a great example of how history will always leave something new to discover, and how valuable a modern perspective can be at wringing out new information.
Minoring in art helps me this way too, because it’s allows me to see behind the final product and imagine (with my own experience for context) how the artist went about creating it. It allows for a new perspective on artefacts; one which I find myself just as enraptured with.
What do you think you might do post-graduate?
It’s cheesy, but post graduation I honestly just want to find myself working in a museum. Even if it’s just selling tickets at the door!
What else do you do in your spare time?
With my spare time I like to pretend I’m well rounded, but mostly I’m reading, playing board games, or sketching my favorite book characters.