History major Katherine DeFonzo in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.
Earlier this summer, History major Katherine DeFonzo reached out to faculty member Christopher Dietrich about the work she was doing at her internship at the Archives Center at the American Museum of National History (a part of the Smithsonian Institution). Katherine wrote:
I just wanted to share with you a project that I’ve gotten to work on during this first week of my internship at the Smithsonian. I remember watching a scene from All in the Family during your class, and the museum recently received many boxes from the collection of Jean Stapleton, who played Edith Bunker on the show. My fellow interns and I have spent much of this week organizing and cataloging them! It has been very exciting: in the collection we found her programs from the Emmy Awards, many newspaper clippings about her performances, and some letters written between her and other famous individuals, including Bill Clinton! It has been interesting to see how her roles reflected the changes that took place in the US during her lifetime.
We wrote back to Katherine to find out more about her internship and her experience this summer working as a Reference Intern at the Archives Center. She told us a bit about how she got the position, the work she’s been doing, and how it relates to her work at Fordham.
As a History major, I am considering pursuing a career working in a museum or archive. Hoping to gain experience in this area, I applied to several internships at various Smithsonian organizations through the Smithsonian Internship online Portal, including the Museum of American History Internship Pool. Mr. Joe Hursey, a reference archivist in the Archives Center at the Museum, reached out to me. I was offered a position as a reference intern.
I work 9-4 each day from Monday through Friday. During the hour before the Archives reading room opens, it is part of my job to tidy up the reading room for the day and re-shelve document boxes that were used the previous day. Each day, I have a two or three hour shift helping to staff the reference desk. When researchers come into the reading room, it is my responsibility and that of my fellow interns to pull and bring out the boxes that they have requested. I have also occasionally been tasked with responding to phone or e-mail questions from researchers. When not working on the desk, I work on processing and assisting with the upkeep of various collections. This has involved alphabetizing and sorting by date collection materials; copying newspaper articles from those collections; and sometimes rehousing photographs and slides from the collections. My fellow interns and I were also tasked with helping to come up with the series and subseries titles that would be used to organize some new collection materials. As part of my internship, my fellow interns and I also got to hear some curators in the museum share their experiences with us, and we were able to visit other historical institutions throughout Washington D.C. such as the Library of Congress Manuscript Division and the Archives of American Art.
As a student in the Honors Program who almost always has at least one book checked out of the Fordham Library, I am glad that this internship gave me the opportunity to better understand the extensive knowledge that librarians and reference archivists must have in order to serve the students and researchers who come to them for assistance. I have always believed that preserving and making accessible primary source documents is essential to the preservation of history, and I am grateful that this internship allowed me to see some of the ways in which that is done. While none of my Fordham classes have involved a hands-on component that could have prepared me for the actual processing work that this internship has required, the extensive amount of writing that I have done as an Honors Program student has prepared me to write the blog post that I have about the Jean Stapleton Papers, which I hope will be published. I hope that I will be able to utilize some of the research skills that I have improved over the course of this summer as I begin to complete research for my Honors Thesis.
Thanks so much for the update, Katherine. The History Department is proud to have one of its own helping out at at such an important repository of American history and culture.
“I LOVE HISTORY, BUT SURELY I HAVE TO MAJOR IN…”
“WELL, IDEALLY I WOULD MAJOR IN HISTORY, BUT ISN’T THAT ONLY FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GO TO DO HISTORY IN GRAD SCHOOL?”
CONSIDERING A MAJOR? IS IT SOMETHING OTHER THAN HISTORY?
Before you make such a momentous decision, stop by the History Department Major Fair. It will be in KE 105 between 1 and 3 pm, Friday January 29th.
Pizza will be provided.
On Saturday, December 5th, Professor Alex Novikoff took four Fordham Students to the 10th Annual Undergraduate Conference in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Moravian College. The four students, all History majors, each presented a paper. Erin Collier presented, “The Role of Menstruation and Impurity in the Characterization of Jews as ‘The Other’ in Medieval Soceity,” Arthur Mezzo presented, “God and Kind: Biographies of Medieval Frankish Kings,” Rita Orazi presented, “The Emperor as Classical Hero in Ana Komnene’s Alexiad,” and Kyle Stelzer presented, “The Tibyan: One Ruler’s Account of Christian-Muslim Relations in Eleventh Century Iberia.”
Nice work, Fordham historians!
The History Department is proud to introduce one of its newest initiatives, the Mannion Society. Named in honor of the late Professor Anne Mannion, an alumna of Fordham’s school of education who went on to teach at Fordham for 53 years, the Mannion society was established by the History Department to identify outstanding history majors and to encourage their development as specifically as researchers. At the center of the historian’s craft is the process of research and writing. Members of the Mannion Society, therefore work intensively with a faculty member to identify a suitable research question, work intensively in researching that question, and then turn that work into a persuasive argument. In the end, members will have an outstanding foundation when they turn to apply for jobs, graduate school or prestigious fellowships.
Cristina Iannarino (FCRH ’17) wrote to tell us about how her work in the Mannion society had helped her in the process of doing original research:
I had done research with Dr. Myers in one of my previous history courses (Honors Early Modern Europe), in which I had traced the origin of the tomato and its significance to understanding the nature of contact between regions in Europe (and by extension, the New World). For that project, I had traced the earliest known sixteenth-century Italian source to describe the tomato and its novel usage as a culinary ingredient. I found that herbalists surrounding European regions outside of Italy had appropriated the same description and usage in their own works, demonstrating the effect Italian writing and usage of the tomato at the time had on establishing the tomato as an essential culinary ingredient—its status today. This was an experience that I know I will never forget, especially as an aspiring historian. I knew from that moment on, I was eager to do this kind of research again and deepen my understanding of the art of historical research. I wanted to equip myself with the same skills necessary to produce that same “aha-moment” of research and realize that it is not simply due to chance, but also, a product of dedication and passion. With the Mannion Society’s goal to reproduce the same spectacular moment in which one’s research clicks into something of significance and answers the “So what?” question historians face, I have been thoroughly enjoying expanding my knowledge on the process with Dr. Stoll that had been introduced to me by Dr. Myers. Along with the help of The Craft of Research and Dr. Stoll’s advising, I have delved into the intricacies of the process of producing original research, making the path much clearer and seem less intimidating with each meeting. While I am still gathering the specifics of the project, the advice from Dr. Stoll and my peers in the Mannion Society have helped me focus my research to the Early Modern experience/conception of “melancholy” and how important communal figures at the time, especially clergymen, recognized this as an illness, or something that deserved to be addressed and treated. Members of the clergy acted as the period’s first physicians, producing a wealth of “self-help” material and giving sermons on the matter. I find this relationship between sufferers of melancholy and the clergy to be fascinating, and am hoping to contribute significance to the subject. Because of the Mannion Society, I feel that I am more prepared to do so.
We’re excited to see what other Mannion Society members are up to, and we’ll let you know about the progress of their ongoing research.
Congratulations to Jake Penders, FCRH, on being selected for a prestigious Fulbright award. Jake is a History and Political Science double major and a Humanitarian Affairs minor. He is also the Treasurer on Phi Alpha Theta, as well as a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (the Political Science National Honor Society) and Phi Beta Kappa. He is also the Captain of the Fordham Men’s Rowing Team, a Eucharistic Minister, and an Eagle Scout. He has been selected for a 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to the Slovak Republic. While there, he will be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) for one year in a Slovakian secondary school teaching English and helping students develop conversational skills in English. Jake is teaching at Spojená skola Nováky, a secondary school located in
Nováky, Slovakia. His grant period is 10 months long and he will leave in late August and return in June.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the United States. Jake will be representing the United States as a cultural ambassador while he is overseas, helping to enhance mutual understanding between Americans and the people in the Slovak Republic. He will be joining over 100,000 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni who have undertaken grants since the program began in 1948.
On behalf of the History Department and Phi Alpha Theta, well done Jake!
On November 6 Professor Michael Neiberg addressed history students at the Lincoln Center campus. His presentation entitled “Images of the First World War” was the annual event organized by the Department of History for students in Eloquentia Perfecta 1 history courses at Lincoln Center.
Michael Neiberg is one of America’s leading military historians. He is Professor of History in the Department of National Security and Strategy in the Army War College in Carlyle, Pennsylvania. Neiberg is the author of seven books, and the editor or co-editor of five others. His Dance of the Furies: Europe and the Outbreak of World War One, was selected by the Wall Street Journal as one the five best books ever written on World War One. Forthcoming next year is his study of the Potsdam Conference.
After his presentation Dr. Neiberg answered numerous questions in a lively exchange with students.
Ricky Bordelon (FCRH ’15) at the Landesarchiv in Berlin
This summer, thanks to a research grant from the Fordham College Dean’s Office, Ricky Bordelon (FCRH ’15), a double-major in History and Political Science was able to travel to Berlin to do research for his History senior thesis. Ricky wrote to us with some details of his fascinating project and the archives and sites that he visited in Berlin.
History major Dylan DeMartino has long been interested in international economics and Latin America. He combined hose interests to produce an article in the most recent Fordham Political Review.
It isn’t every day that an undergraduate student is acknowledged in a widely-read work of historical scholarship. That’s why the History Department was excited to learn that a Fordham undergraduate, Marlessa Stivala, was thanked for her input in Susan Bordo’s new book, The Creation of Anne Boleyn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). Continue reading