Thursday, February 7, 2013

Introducing the Spring 2013 Undergraduate Interns

Fourteen Loyola undergraduates are putting the skills they learned in the classroom to work in archives, museums, gardens, and even on the streets of Rogers Park this semester as part of HIST 398: the History Undergraduate Internship. They are learning first-hand from professionals about the many ways in which History can be put to work. In return for interning for a minimum of five hours a week, they earn three course credit hours and satisfy the college’s Engaged Learning Credit. Live vicariously through their experiences by following their weekly blog posts. Who knows? You might find a new place to visit, a new subject to study, or an internship to undertake yourself!

The Pritzker Military Library has become a favorite place for Loyola interns over the last few years and this semester is no exception. Shelby Helton is learning much about the Vietnam War, such as the training experience for flying helicopters, by transcribing oral history interviews with veterans. When Tom Knight isn’t working on a Patron Discovery Page on nuclear weapons for the Library’s website, he has been learning the ropes at the circulation desk and enjoying book talks with figures as diverse as historical novelist Lois Leveen and General Stanley McChrystal. At the Chicago Maritime Museum, another favorite internship site, Steve Sykes is working on cataloguing the museum’s collection.

Several students are approaching Rogers Park with a range of different questions this semester. Julia Lechowicz is researching the earliest families of the neighborhood for the Rogers Park Historical Society. She will be gathering this information on her blog to make it more accessible to the public. Under the direction of History Professor John Pincince, Sreeruppa Dey and Bridget Llewellyn are documenting Devon Avenue, the diverse boundary between Rogers Park and Edgewater. Sreeruppa’s blog is filled with images of the storefronts of Devon Avenue, documenting the competition among the Indo-Pak restaurants, clothing boutiques, and video rental stores. Bridget’s blog shares her experience conducting oral history interviews with the owners of many of those stores.

Other students are working closely with History faculty on different research projects. Under the supervision of Professor Steve Schloesser, Ed Englestad is researching an important map of the western frontier created in the nineteenth century by pioneering Jesuit missionary Pierre DeSmet. Ed’s deciphering of the map will be part of a major exhibition on the Jesuits in nineteenth-century North America at LUMA in Summer 2014. Evan Thompson is working with Professor Kyle Roberts on the digital publication of another nineteenth-century Jesuit accomplishment, Loyola’s first library catalogue (c.1875). Evan is learning first hand about how to digitize manuscript sources. The influence of business in public, research-intensive universities in the twentieth century is the subject of the research that Joe Kalina is undertaking with Professor Ellie Shermer. Joe is learning the ins and out of research databases in his search for evidence for this important study.

There might be several inches of snow covering Loyola’s Medieval Garden this winter, but that has not slowed down Isa Orozco-Vela and Anna Maria Siavelis. Isa shares a wonderful image of a Medieval snow-ball fight on her blog, but much of her research is into the flowers, vegetables, and herbs in the garden. She will be making this information available on a website about the garden. Anna Maria has focused her blog on Italian gardens, and has begun digging into the rich literature on ancient gardens, perhaps with an eye to bringing something new to Loyola’s Medieval garden when it begins to bloom again in the spring.

Several students have embarked on internships that allow them to explore different facets of history education. Matt Burmeister has plunged into the Social Science Department of the Chicago Public Schools, talking to High School teachers and researching sources that they can use in the classroom. Lydia Wassman is interning as Literacy Intern with Open Books, a nonprofit social venture that strives to spread literacy through the city of Chicago through community-based programs. Her mission, she writes, is to counter perceptions that reading history is “dull and boring and really old”. The Chicago Metro History Education Center is another important Chicago-based program aimed at turning students onto History. Sarah Shirey is interning there this semester, learning about the history of the organization as she digitizes their organizational files.

It is never too early to start thinking about the internship that you want to undertake this summer or next fall! Visit the undergraduate page or email me ( for more information

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