My Internship at the Lowell National Historic Site – Emily Tessier ’19


UntitledLike most college students, I ended Sophomore year wondering what my years as an upperclassman would look like. I was a Secondary Education and History major who wasn’t sold on being a teacher. When I thought of my possible career paths, all I could envision was a giant question mark hovering over my head like the stars that hovered around the heads of cartoon characters. I liked kids, but I loved museums and was interested in what a career in a history museum would look like. That summer, I decided to apply to museum internships near my house, and I remembered going on a field trip to the Boott Cotton Mills museum back in Elementary School. I sent them an introductory email, and they decided to take me on as an intern for the summer. Turns out, the museum was part of a National Park down the street from me that I did not even know was there. I spent that summer interning at Lowell National Historic Park and sending that email was the best professional decision I have ever made.

Prior to my internship, I knew almost nothing about national parks. When I thought of national parks, I pictured Teddy Roosevelt riding a bison through the Grand Canyon wearing some funky hat. But the reality of working in a National Park is so much better than that. Actually, no, Teddy Roosevelt riding a bison will always be the coolest thing, but working as a National Park Ranger is the second coolest.

My official title was, “Family Programming and Interpretation Intern”, which essentially just meant that I worked in the Interpretation division of the park and focused on Family Programming. During my internship, I designed and implemented educational crafts and activities that centered around the main themes of the park. Unlike formal education in schools, the informal educational experiences that I was crafting allowed families to learn together and create lasting memories without fear of getting a bad grade or getting in trouble. During one particular program, we partnered with the New England Quilt Museum to create quilt-themed educational crafts. One of the crafts that I designed was a contact and tissue paper butterfly. Though it seems silly, the child learned simple symmetry with her mother through the butterfly craft. I left work that day beaming with pride because I had been able to create this memory for the family.

At the end of my internship, my supervisor helped me to craft my resume to apply for a full-time job for the following summer. The hiring process within the federal government is so much more difficult than the private sector so it took a lot of time to carefully fine-tune my resume and cover letter for the application. But all my work paid off when I was offered the job.

Last summer was my first summer as a full-time Park Ranger at Lowell and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Along with family programming, I staffed museum sites, gave interpretive talks to visitors, and eventually gave boat tours to paying customers. In between the daily responsibilities of the job, I was encouraged to research and learn as much as I could so I could teach visitors as much as possible and develop my own programming and interpretive material. That research and passion for my job carried onto and inspired my Senior Seminar project.

Following my graduation this May, I will return to Lowell National Historic Park for another season as a Park Ranger with aspirations of a career in the National Park Service. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that the Park Service has given me thus far, and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.

My Summer in Rome – Olivia Richard ’19

IMG_0064When faced with the prospect of travelling Europe alone doing research, it is very easy to become overwhelmed and apprehensive. This past semester I received a scholarship from Emmanuel College to conduct independent research in Italy for my senior thesis. In the past, I have only travelled anywhere with my family so I had never travelled anywhere on my own in any respect. So going to a new country, alone, where I don’t speak the language, is very daunting. To prepare for this trip I binged DuoLingo like nobody’s business, but there is nothing that can prepare you for actually being in an environment with a new language. Everything I thought I knew I immediately forgot. Thankfully, I was not alone at first. My professor who was visiting Rome was able to take me through the next 48 hours and helped me get settled for the coming weeks. One of the things I was most unsure of was the phone situation. International data is ridiculously expensive, so the best option was to purchase an Italian phone plan. This is the best idea ever that has saved my life over and over again. Being alone was less terrifying when I had someone I knew with me who was also used to life in Rome. After she left, I was really on my own. From there on out, I had to figure things out by myself. I have been able to get along by memorizing things and places as well as a few key phrases. For instance, while I cannot string together a single coherent sentence in Italian still, I can still go to the supermarket and successfully purchase what I needed for the next couple of days. Adapting to a completely foreign culture was difficult for sure, and I don’t think that there is anything that can prepare someone for an entirely foreign environment. The only true way of understanding another culture is to become completely immersed in it and to see the way others live their day to day lives.

The research that brought me to Italy in the first place was focused around women artists of the Italian Renaissance. Think for a moment. Name two, no, one female artist during that time. It’s nearly impossible. When I took a class about gender and art at Emmanuel College, I was struck by the fact that women have been pushed aside in the art world even during the most influential of times. I became determined to find women and to bring their stories to light. This has been a difficult process, since women have been kept away from notoriety. Last semester I received a scholarship that allowed me to study just this and to see for myself how few women have made it through the centuries into the art we know today. Some of my most memorable stops were the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Palazzo Pitti in Florence as well, and of course, the Vatican Museums. It was amazing to experience works of art that have been passed down through the centuries from family to family, pope to noble, until I saw them for myself. What was the most remarkable was how few places held artwork by women. Some of the galleries that held modern art had more variety, but still very few women were featured. It’s one thing to talk about the lack of women in the art world, but it’s an entirely different thing to see this stark difference for myself.

My time abroad was something that will stay with me forever. I was alone for a month in a foreign country and I learned to adapt to my surroundings. I embraced being alone, and that helped me focus on my research and myself. I learned so much about what I came there to research, but I also learned that I can handle 36 hour flight delays, delays on the Italian Metro, the internet being used up and not being unlimited, how to cook and care for myself, and how to be alone. This has been a life changing experience for me in so many ways. I am a stronger person because of my time there, and I want to use that to show others not only that being alone is an enlightening experience, but that women have endured much worse, and their legacy lives on.

Colonial Williamsburg = Disappointment by Dr. Jeffrey Fortin

img_3240This summer my family decided to go on a week-long vacation to Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was the perfect spot to vacation, surrounded by incredible golf courses, water parks, kayaking, Busch Gardens, and Colonial Williamsburg.  We had a fantastic vacation, save for the few hours we spent at the world renown Colonial Williamsburg living history museum.

We arrived at the visitor’s center with the expectation that we’d soon be immersed in what some consider to be the best living history museum in the nation.  And it started well as we walked from the visitor’s center along a paved path that had stone inserts counting backward in time from present to the 18th century (the period in which the museum recreates), noting that any time before a given date people lacked telephones, or cars, or whatever important invention or human achievement occurred in the past 250-years.  It was a wonderful way to “lead” a visitor back in time and prepare them for the somewhat foreign world they were about to step into.

The experience then turned slightly disappointing.  Between the visitor’s center and the main downtown living history neighborhood, one encounters a small farm.  Signs point out what buildings were used for, including slave cabins, and what kinds of crops were grown, etc.  All typical for a living history museum.  Except…except…except…there were no people.  None.  Not a one.  Supreme opportunity missed here to bring to life an 18th-century farm.  Look, I’m not saying there should be slaves working in the field or a slaveholder punishing his ‘property.”  Not at all.  But how fantastic would it be to have reenactors there to talk with guests about life on a small farm?  Instead, it was an abandoned farm that did little to pique my kids’ interest.

Onward we walk, wondering what the “city” part of the museum would be like.  Well, it’s beautiful and exactly like the promotions promised: red brick colonial structures everywhere, vintage colonial Virginia! Yet, it wasn’t vintage at all. We looked up in awe as we walked into the Governor’s Mansion.  That awe was soon blown apart when we began our guided tour.  Nothing of substance was taught.  In fact, the tour guide only spoke of white, Anglo settlers in Virginia and not once about slaves or Native Americans (only in passing) and the extent of our learning about women in Colonial Williamsburg came when the tour guide taught all of the women in our group to curtsey.  Yes, curtsey. My wife looked horrified as she had to curtsey in front of me.

And no mention of Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation.  Lots of facts about Lord Dunmore and his family and an erroneous statement as to why he was eventually run out of town during the American Revolution, but nothing about his Proclamation, one of the most important moments in the Revolutionary Era!

Ok, ok, it can’t all be like this. We walked on, expecting to be immersed in Colonial Williamsburg and surrounded by living history experts and reenactors.  Nope.  Most of the structures, come to find out, were replicas built in the 20th-century and almost every building that was open to visitors also sold trinkets and gifts.  The commercialization of the place was truly unbelievable.  It truly felt like Disney World or nearby Busch Gardens in terms of its tacky commercialization.  Every reenactor we tried to talk to spoke to us about the weather, about current events, etc.  No one was discussing history.  Even the Native American reenactors spoke with a few guys for 20-minutes about modern guns — not modern guns compared to colonial guns — modern guns, like they were at a gun show!

Thankfully, as we decided 2-hours was far too long to have already spent there, we headed for the exit and happened upon the Peyton Randolph House on our way out.  This place was excellent!  Our guide, Edwin, spoke little of the Randolphs and instead led us on a tour of the house as one of their slaves would have experienced it.  It was a long, hot, and humid tour, but I learned more about slavery in Virginia than I have in a long time — and I study slavery! He brought to life elements of slavery that often do not come alive in history books.  He is a truly gifted storyteller and historian.

Upon reflection, perhaps I expected too much from Colonial Williamsburg.  I expected the experience one gets at Plimouth Plantation, where reenactors do not break character and will only engage with visitors as though it is still the 17th-century.  I once had a reenactor explain the Universe to me from his 17th-century perspective.  It was incredible and it helped me to understand that worldview so much better. That is what a true living history museum should be like, not some commercialized, watered-down version of our past.  Then again, I guess I wasn’t expecting too much from Colonial Williamsburg.  It is essential that anyone or any institution purporting to protect our past and educate the public do the best they can to provide a comprehensive, multi-dimensional story that doesn’t provide the Fox News version of the American Story.  Take my advice and stay away from Collonial Williamsburg.  Head to Jamestown instead.

A Yankee Living Below the Mason-Dixon Line ~ Haley Lynch, Class of 2018

In late May, I headed towards the exit of Orlando International Airport bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and already covered in a thin sheen of sweat. Wheeling two oversized suitcases that were respectively filled to the brim with twenty-two years worth of clothing, shoes, and other essential items, I was already out of breath before the doors swung open. Once they did, I was struck by the hair-curling humidity of Florida in the summertime. Having more luggage than limbs, I painstakingly fumbled all five of my bags across the uneven concrete walkway of the airport’s pick-up area.

Profusely sweating through the ripped patches in my denim jeans (a necessity for the unseasonable cold in Manchester, New Hampshire but definitely not for central Florida), I watched my aunt slowly inch her car up towards the curb. If I have learned one thing during my brief stint in the south, it is that nothing moves fast. Or moves at all. To put this into perspective, Amazon Prime, who normally has your package on your doorstep within two days, takes three days to deliver. Welcome to life below the Mason-Dixie Line y’all.

As a newly minted college graduate, I arrived in Florida with high spirits, even higher hopes, and a thirst for adventure and new beginnings. This fresh start took the form of law school. Before I packed my bags from the comfort of my childhood home in Massachusetts, I enrolled at Barry University School of Law in Orlando, FL as a 1L (first-year law student). Why would any self-respecting born and bred Bostonian under the age of sixty-five choose to relocate to Heaven’s waiting room? Well, the sunshine and year-round warm weather, along with the close proximity to my extended family and my boyfriend, all lured me to the Sunshine State. I enjoyed many pleasant experiences amongst my own millennial generation (yes, younger people do live there) during my countless visits in the years prior and I grew fond of the relaxed atmosphere.

Orlando was not my top choice for residency after post-grad, neither was it my second or third, but since I was broke and a horrible test taker it was one of the few places I gained admission with a decent enough scholarship to put me into debt for the next fifty years instead of the alternative one hundred. So here I am- unemployed and stuck in limbo a little over one thousand miles away from home.

Whether it’s that Yankee pride or northern naivety, I expected the culture in central Florida to be hick bordering on Confederate, and less, well, diverse. Don’t get me wrong, I still do my fair share of rolling my eyes at MAGA baseball hats and reminding my relatives that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was important for a reason, but that occurs in my hometown as well. (My parents do live just south of the border of those “live free or die” New Hampshire folks though.)

As a history major who grew up in the land of the Pilgrims and the tea-partying Patriots, I was surprised to be assaulted by so much culture and history that occurred well before Paul Revere shouted profanities about the British militia to a town full of sleeping colonists. My education about the southern states, particularly Florida, was confined merely to the Civil War and snippets about Ponce de Leon and his Fountain of Youth in the fifth grade. Sorry my fellow Yankees, but after visiting Saint Augustine, a beautiful historic town on Florida’s Atlantic coast, I believe that this is a disservice to young elementary students in the northeast.

In the oldest city in the United States, which beats the Massachusetts Bay Colony by about two hundred years, I was actually schooled by the south. From touring old military forts and haciendas to walking through pirate museums and Spanish-style avenues, I learned more about Florida’s history in the two days I visited than I had in over sixteen years of education in the north.

Although I’m still getting accustomed to homesickness, the southern drawl, and traffic-lined industrial roads in a city that lacks public transportation and decent drivers, I think I can learn to become a Floridian. Many northerners still gape at me like I have three heads and question my sanity when I tell them that I relocated to Florida for higher education but it isn’t as bad as they believe. In short, I’m here to say that the land below the Mason-Dixie Line isn’t just a home for racists and retirees after all.

The New Blog of the Emmanuel College History Department

Welcome to our new blog!  On this site you will find entries by faculty, students, and alumni of Emmanuel College’s History Department, providing a glimpse into the life of the History Department community, the College, and our city of Boston.  Check back often to see what’s new and read about all of the innovative activities going on in the History Department.

Below is an architect’s rendering of our new 16-story dorm that is almost completed.  With the rise of the new Julie Hall, comes a new year of excitement at Emmanuel!