This past summer had me, Chris, interning at the Rundel Memorial Library here in Rochester. I’m currently a senior at the Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in Museum Studies (yes, that’s a real thing). I was working with a collection of personal letters containing correspondence between members of the Gleason family, a prominent family in Rochester and founders of Gleason Works. The letters span the time frame of around 1880 to 1930.
Overall I had a fantastic time working at the library. I was tasked with transcribing the letters, reading through incredibly slowly and deciphering the 100-year-old style of writing. At times it was difficult to do. There are some letters that still stick out in my mind because I literally spent entire days fumbling through them. But then there would be days where I would really hit a stride and knock out five or six. The more time I spent reading through the letters, the more comfortable I felt with it. It really began to feel like I knew these people.
I think my favorite thing that I took away from working with the collection was realizing that though these people lived over one hundred years ago, they still talked about many of the same things that we would today. Gossip about neighbors, inside jokes, complaints, talk about pretty girls; it’s all present in the letters. These were real people that had their own lives just as complex as ours are today.
Working here over the summer has been an excellent experience. It really helped to solidify my confidence in the fact that I want to continue down this path of study and eventually make a career out of this type of work. I thought that it was an great opportunity, and I would recommend to anybody interested in public history to consider working here.
- Chris Fisher, Student Intern