Meet Gwen, JWA Summer Intern
This summer, I was lucky enough to spend six fabulous weeks as an intern at the Jewish Women’s Archive. I hail from Lancaster PA, and I’m a rising senior at Smith College, with a major in History and a minor in Archival Studies. My primary historical interests are the social and cultural history of modern Britain and Ireland. And what, you ask, is someone who studies places that aren’t exactly renowned for having a huge Jewish population doing at the Jewish Women’s Archive? The reasons are many!
I’m learning about an important piece of my own heritage, and exploring history from a different perspective than I’ve had in the past. Also, as someone who’s interested in public history, I’ve had an unparalleled opportunity to be on the cutting edge of what an “archive” can be. My idea of an archival collection has expanded to include blog entries, oral history interviews, and collections of physical landmarks.
It was also a privilege (and great fun!) to help with preparations for JWA’s summer Institute for Educators. Interacting with a group of what must be twenty-six of the most dynamic and enthusiastic Jewish educators in the country was one of my favorite parts of the summer. Even in my brief time here, I got a sense of the magnitude of the work that goes into creating an event such as the Institute, and it was very special to be a part of that process.
My summer at JWA was an incredible learning experience in so many ways. JWA’s welcoming and enthusiastic staff included me in everything that was happening throughout the summer, and I now know how to create HTML tags, write a pithy blog entry, and help the wheels of a conference run smoothly. But I’ve learned other things as a JWA intern that will stay with me long after I’ve forgotten these skills. I’ll remember stories of women like Esther Brandeau, the first Jew to come to Canada who was deported for her refusal to abandon her faith, and Sophie Tucker, the nice Jewish girl from Hartford, CT who grew up to become a charismatic “red hot mama” who wowed the crowds all over America. These women and many others whom I “met” at JWA will always fascinate me, and they’re particularly inspiring as I prepare to enter a time of life with many uncertainties. It’s hard to leave JWA after spending such an amazing time here, but exciting to know that all the resources and stories JWA has to offer are just a click away!