As summer comes to an end and the start of the fall semester draws near, it is time for the two of us to say our goodbyes to the Chemung County Historical Society. We have spent the last few months interning here and as our last days approach we wanted to share with everyone what our experiences were like. Before we get into that, let us both introduce ourselves.
Hello! I am Phoenix Andrews. I am 21 years old and a senior history major at Alfred University. I transferred to Alfred University in the fall of 2021 after getting my Associates degree at Corning Community College. I plan to graduate in the spring of 2023 and am hoping to start Grad School the following semester.
Hi there! My name is Kevin Earley. I am 23, almost 24 years old, and going into my senior year as a history major at Alfred University! I transferred over from Alfred State last semester, after transferring from Corning Community College in the fall of 2020. I will graduate in the spring of 2023, and I hope to attend Grad School at some point. I am still working out my next steps, but I have all the faith in the world that the next chapter is going to be amazing!
The two of us grew up and live in Chemung County so having the opportunity to intern at our local historical society was something neither of us could pass by. During our time here, we got to work on many different projects with the amazing staff at the Chemung County Historical Society. Ahead we will be describing some of those projects, what our goals were, and anything we may have learned from that experience.
Updating Education Cases
Separately we worked on updating two of the cases available for schools to borrow.
Phoenix- I worked on the Westward Expansion case. Some material was outdated or contained things not as helpful in modern classrooms, like CDs. I proposed some changes that could be made to current activities and created a lesson plan for a new interactive activity. It was a nice experience creating something that I know might be used in classrooms at some point.
Kevin- I looked through our case on Pop Culture. I ensured that everything was accounted for and looked over the potential that the case had. The case has a lot of potential for lessons; however, nothing new has been set in stone.
Representing the Museum
We both had opportunities to get out into the community.
Phoenix- One of the first things I did as an intern was represent the museum at the Early-Childhood Education Fair held at the Arnot Mall. I, along with a museum volunteer, got to meet many local families. In addition, Kevin and I attended the Brand Park Tuesday market together to help get the word out about new exhibits and the museum’s summer walking tours. Being able to work with the community and show children that museums can be interesting to them is one of my favorite parts of going to events.
Kevin- I had the opportunity to represent the museum at the Juneteenth Event. I heard many wonderful stories and appreciated being out in the community. Starting in June, I had the opportunity to be at Wisner Market weekly. Along with another volunteer, Bob, we represented the museum to the community.
You may have noticed that this is not a first blog for either of us!
|Phoenix researching in the archives|
Kevin- I wrote a blog on the history of hockey in the City of Elmira called “Our Town, Our Teams: Hockey in Elmira.” I wrote it based on statistics and newspaper articles from The Star Gazette. It ranges from the Elmira College teams to the professional teams that used to call our area home. I also wrote an article on the history of football at Notre Dame High School which is being considered for the Chemung Historical Journal.
We’ve gone out into the community and documented local history.
Phoenix- When The Moving Wall was at Eldridge Park, I took our camera to take photos and document this event for our records. It was interesting doing something like this because in the future people can look back and see what took place.
Kevin- As the result of a research request that we had received, I visited the War Town Monument (Sullivan Expedition) to record and confirm that the information gathered was accurate.
Together, we worked with Monica, the Curator, to assist her with the installation of the new exhibit “Receding Waters: 50 Years After the Flood.” We de-installed the previous exhibit, returning objects to storage. We retrieved and helped prepare artifacts for the new exhibit. We worked in collections and became familiar with the software that organizes everything. We printed and assembled panels for the exhibit, and learned how to navigate various technical issues. It became an opportunity to improve our troubleshooting and creative problem-solving skills.
We had the chance to work on smaller projects too, things that are often overlooked or not thought about as much but showed us just how much goes into being a Curator or Archivist.
The two of us worked with Rachel to pre-catalog new and previously donated books for the collection.
Phoenix- Some of the other smaller projects I worked on included verifying dates for recently donated technology and artifacts to be included in the new exhibit. I also created a 1972 Flood Photo Album on Chemung County Historical Society’s Facebook page using photos from the archives.
Kevin- I assisted our archivist, Rachel, in clipping and filing newspapers. It has prompted me to start my own collection of magazines and articles that I receive to save for my own use.
As a collective with the Museum staff, we
hosted visitors from local elementary schools and summer cohesion groups. We
gained a lot of experience working with children and confidence in how to
improvise solutions; learning when it is okay to move on and scrap an idea that
is not quite working out the way we previously planned.
Kevin guiding 2nd graders
The museum’s Director, Bruce Whitmarsh, took time to share how grant funding works. He walked us through the process of applying for grants and talked about the importance of grants in operations at a small institution.
Overall, as our time here comes to a close, we both want to express our gratitude for the opportunities we were given. We both were able to experience and learn so much in the few months we were here and none of that would have been possible if it were for the amazing people who work and volunteer here. Everyone accepted us with open arms, and we can both agree that we already miss interning at the Chemung County Historical Society.
Phoenix Andrews and Kevin Earley