Monday, June 8, 2009

Walking "The Street"

Today began the orientation to Historic Deerfield. The Main Street that all of the museum houses are located on is the Old Main Street, called "The Street." Apparently, unlike what most people think about New England, several towns in the western areas of the colonies are set up along a mile long main street instead of a town square. Deerfield has this lay out. We all had a walking tour this morning with the program tutor, Josh, and the co-tutor, Niki. As we walked, Josh pointed out different architectural patterns of the different houses, the general histories of most of the buildings, and just general information about the collections and other museum knowledge. This is going to be such a learning experience since I have never studied architecture before. I also have never had a class on the colonial period, so I am really out of my comfort zone here. After all, we don't talk about the 19th century in Deerfield...That isn't to say that my final paper can't cover this period, since Josh told us anything goes for the final paper so long as it is about New England and can use the library's resources, but more on that in a second.

After the tour and lunch, we went to the sister museum in town. It was really nice just to be able to wander around the museum and become familiar with the history. The lady working the front desk was also SUPER friendly and great to talk to. After having an hour and a half to wander the museum, Niki took us to the library for the orientation. Today I realized how spoiled I was at the Newberry. The reading room is so small, the collections aren't as large as the Newberry, and it generally isn't as fancy. That isn't to say the library is disappointing, because I know it will be useful; it's just very different from where I was eight months ago. I hope to find sources for the Irish in the area, but unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to have the time to try and tackle that project. There weren't many Irish settlers in western Massachusetts, and what sources are here would have to be sorted through by me, which I don't have free time to do. I really hope I can find a diary or something from either the Revolution, the railroad, or the Lowell mill and work with that so I can at least mention the Irish, but I will see what I can find.

This evening we had a cookout for supper. After about half an hour, we finally got the charcoal started, and finally had burgers, but it was nice to just sit and talk with the group. I really enjoy all of my fellow fellows. Unlike at the Newberry, I don't feel inadequate, though slightly out-of-place. It could be because I have never been out East before, and even though there are two other girls from the Midwest (Deerfield, IL, and Kalamazoo, MI), they have both traveled and are more familiar with this region. Nevertheless, people aren't judgmental and we all are obviously history (especially public history) nerds. I mean, we WANT to do this for our careers. It's so great to just get to know everyone, share college stories, family experiences, etc. We have two articles to read for tomorrow about how to look at objects. Tomorrow, after pictures for our museum ids, we get to select an object to write our object study on. I'm kind of nervous since I have never really done this before, but this entire summer is just going to be a learning experience, so I will take it all in stride. I am off to do and read, but I will say, this is going to be more intense (in a very different way) than the Newberry. The research paper isn't as long, but the days are fuller and just as mentally draining. This is going to be an fun summer, but very, very busy. More details to follow...

Oh, and I realized that a.) I haven't a chance to take pictures yet, and, b.) I have to wait for my mom to send the cord for the camera, so you will have to wait for the pictures that I will eventually take to be posted.

Also, I will try to walk somewhere with internet everyday (even though I will probably be walking a minimum of two miles a day anyway), so we shall see if I can keep this up. Until tomorrow!


  1. Sounds like a very interesting day, and the start of a very interesting summer.
    My thing with architecture is that I really enjoy looking and it, and I think I would really enjoy building it, but I'm not sure how I feel about listening to people talk about it. Was there anything particularly interesting Josh told you?
    The object study sounds kind of fun actually. I'd be interested in hearing about what you select and what you learn about it. I'm sure the instructions will take you through it step by step and give you enough direction to do well.
    Oh Margaret, you and your Irish. Good luck finding sources for your paper! (By the way, that wasn't supposed to be sarcastic... this is one of the rare instances where I'm not employing sarcasm.)
    How did seminar and your discussion of John Williams go today?
    Glad to hear your hitting it off with your peers. Once you spend more time together, I think your differences will become less apparent and you'll enjoy collaborating with a group of people who share your interests.
    I guess that's about all I have to say. I think I'm going to go do a little reading. The girl who did the KCCDD internship last year sent me the report she wrote about sexuality in the DD and MR population, and I've been intending to read it for a few weeks now. Also, my Uncle Keith sent me an article he wrote about how playing tennis builds neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex. Yay psychology!
    I am also considering reading "Man and his Symbols" by Carl Jung over the summer. It's about 300 pages, but it has a lot of pictures. :) Ok, I'm going to go be a nerd. I'll talk to you again soon, I'm sure.
    - Erin

  2. I'm glad you're having a good time, and learning so much! Perhaps you should set aside your interest in the Irish for this summer and let something suggest itself to you as a paper topic that's organic to the place you're in. Trying to look for the Irish in a place that really didn't have Irish people means you'll be forcing the archives to meet expectations that don't fit the opportunity you have. Keep an open mind - let Deerfield tell you what paper to write.

  3. Yeah, Catherine, that's probably what will end up happening. I was hoping to maybe get a little head start on the honors project, but I will try to find a document or interesting artifact from the library and go from there...