Summer Multitasking

Since mid-May I have been multitasking, balancing an internship, a readings class (to start prepping for my comprehensive exams in December), and thesis research and planning. (Plus, I’ve been trying to enjoy the city of Wilmington and its cultural offerings, i.e. museums, concerts, and the beach. 🙂 )

One fact which makes this balancing much easier is that my internship and my thesis are heavily linked. I am a collections intern at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science where I have been working on research for a possible new exhibit on women. I began with a broad approach of reading about southern women’s history across time and perusing the collection to see what kinds of objects pertaining to women’s history I could find. I have also begun getting into primary sources at the New Hanover County Library North Carolina Room. The research is becoming more focused on women’s economic lives, especially in the 20th century.

My thesis, which I am still working on more clearly delineating, will examine how the museum has presented women’s and gender history in the past and how it might improve that interpretation in the future, specifically via the way it collects and presents objects. My research on women in Wilmington for the future exhibit has helped to give me a necessary background in the women’s history that falls within the museum’s interpretive mission. It has also given me a better understanding of changing conceptions of gender over time, important context for presenting gender and women’s history. Stay tuned for more as my questions and research become more focused.

The internship also began with a small project related to the museum’s social media initiatives. Each day the museum shares photos of items in the collection. For an initiative called Shoesday (Tuesday) I rounded up shoes and items related to shoes in the collection that I found interesting, aiming to provide a variety that showcases the diversity of the collection. Through doing so I learned how to use Rediscovery, a collections software much like PastPerfect with which I was already familiar. Rediscovery is my gateway to the collections for work on my thesis as well, allowing me to search and sort in order to find objects related to women and gender. It is always good to learn new practical skills and technology for the museum setting.

I also had the privilege of volunteering at one of the museum’s science-oriented events called StormFest. The event educates families about weather and emergency preparedness in the region. I worked with another intern at the Shaving Cream Rain station which demonstrated the way accumulated humidity and water particles in a cloud will eventually lead to rain. The activity was a big hit with kids and a great experience for me to interact with visitors.

One final update is a piece of very exciting news. A poster submitted by the two co-curators and I about our work on the Push and Pull: Eastern European and Russian Migration to the Cape Fear Region exhibit has been accepted for the NCPH sponsored poster session at the AASLH Annual Meeting in St. Paul in September. We will be going to present our poster, do some networking, and attend some very interesting sessions. It will be my first national conference and a great experience to share our work with others in the field. I’m looking forward to it!

Classes start back in just over a month–until then I will continue working on my thesis, reading for comps, and interning at the Cape Fear Museum. 🙂

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