by Laura Stagliola, Tom Desilets Memorial Intern
As I mentioned last week, this would be my last blog because my 10 weeks with the Framingham History Center have come to an end. I want to use this blog to say good-bye to the people I have met, remember the great experiences I had here, and share the impact the Framingham History Center has had on me.
This summer, I was the first recipient of the Tom Desilets Memorial Internship, and I was part of the first group of CHOICE internship students from Framingham State University. I am proud to represent both titles for their unique opportunities, and fortunate that the Desilets’ family allowed me to honor Tom’s legacy in a small way.
Throughout the past 10 weeks, I have realized that I cannot work alone. I truly enjoy being part of a group and the atmosphere at FHC has been so team oriented that I didn’t realize I was working because I was having so much fun. Working alongside Annie, Dana, Jennifer, and Charlene everyday has been so great, and it was wonderful to see Pat, Sue, the greeters and volunteers on a weekly basis. In the past, I had a few jobs that required individual work and I was not as motivated and excited to go to work every morning because I was by myself. I can honestly say that I did not want to skip a day of work for the beach because the people who make up FHC have been the highlight of my summer.
Working with the Dennison Manufacturing Company Archives has been full of surprises. Starting out, I did not know what to expect, knowing only that it was a huge company in Framingham that made crepe paper products. When I came to FHC, I found 18 boxes of scrapbooks that needed to be dissected! After sorting and organizing 40+ boxes from the Dennison collection, I took on the scrapbooks as my challenge for the summer. The contents of those scrapbooks were so diverse and interesting, that I was immediately hooked. I began taking pictures of all the cool and fun products I found (as you have seen in previous blogs) and most were advertisements Dennison created. However, the most interesting piece I found was not a graphic or an ad. It was a small, 5 x 7” handwritten letter to Mrs. E.W. Dennison, thanking her for the copy of E.W.Dennison’s memorial book that was sent out in 1909. A black man named Warner Webb, from Chicago, was so thankful to Mrs. Dennison and he took that opportunity to talk about the interesting connection he made to the Dennison family and his own. Webb had worked for Dennison for 22 years, and he met Mr. C.S. Dennison (E.W. Dennison’s son) several times. Sometime later, he saw C.S. Dennison’s photo in a newspaper and it revealed his full name, Charles Sumner Dennison. He wanted to express his gratitude and gratefulness to the Dennison family for naming one of their sons after a Civil Rights abolitionist and taking an interest in the welfare of his people, as he said. Webb went on to mention people including Abraham Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown, and it was so cool to find this unique piece amid letters from the Young Man’s Christian Association and friends of E.W. Dennison.
This internship has been life changing for my college career. I came in June thinking I wanted to pursue one aspect of the museum field. Now, it’s August, and I found I’ve drifted away from that idea of my future career. The great part about it was that I did not have to change my major, quit a job, or consult a career counselor to figure it out. I came to the decision on my own, as I was able to explore different aspects of a museum, all within the safety of FHC. I feel not many people have the chance to change their mind without worry about the impact it has on the rest of their life. Internships are a “life experience” that all college students should be able to take advantage of, because in today’s world, we have so many doors open to us. Being able to change my mind freely has been the most significant impact the Framingham History Center has had on me this summer.
FHC has given me so much knowledge and help in defining my skills. Going forward, I feel confident I can obtain my dream museum job. I don’t know if that will be program director, museum education, or director of a nonprofit, but I believe this internship has me headed in the right direction. In July, we had a 3-day teacher training workshop for local teachers to learn about primary sources and the history of Framingham. That workshop reminded me that I enjoy planning and teaching people that are really interested in the topic you are presenting. I had not chosen secondary education for my major because I’m not convinced (sadly) that a large number of young people have a keen interest in history, and I would want my students to be as excited as I am. Museum education, however, is the perfect outlet for me to plan and teach an interested audience, and I see that as a potential career.
As I move on to my senior year of college, I will not forget the memories I made with the Framingham History Center, and I will definitely drop by every now and then because Annie will need some computer help soon after I’m gone! I can’t thank the staff of FHC enough for making this a wonderful internship and I can only hope my next internship (or job!) is as amazing as this summer!
Here I am with a pile of boxes taller than me! Those boxes are the culmination of my entire summer working on the Dennison archives. Taking 18 boxes of scrapbooks, removing their contents, and placing them into manila folders filed 7 boxes.)