Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to work in some archives in Salt Lake City on a women’s history project. This internship has resulted in some interesting research projects for me on women, technical communication, and communication design. My formal assignment is to do research for a team of women working on a book of women’s discourses from 1820 to present. I work on the first half of the book, which covers 1820 to 1920.
I consider the most valuable aspect of this opportunity to be the friendships and associations I have developed through my time there. I get to rub shoulders with highly educated women who have encouraged and guided me on learning historical research. While my time there is occasionally overwhelming because of everything else I am doing right now, I think of it as a precious way to gain an education in history and research. And I enjoy being there.
The women I associate with have broader associations with women historians outside of the archives where we work. They have a formal organization and put on seminars, conferences, and lunch groups. My favorite part of this networking and socialization is our “conversation group.” Once every two months, we gather in someone’s home, where a member of the group presents her research or insights on the history of women through the religious lens of the archives. I’ve met many wonderful people by being a part of this group, and I’ve even had the opportunity to present what I’ve learned in researching for the book on women’s discourses. This is a group of supportive, caring, intelligent, and encouraging women. I benefit in many ways by associating with them.
Last week, we met at a home with the most interesting decor. It was a mishmash of historical artifacts: pictures, books, statues, tables, plaques, instruments, and collectibles. The owners of this home had all of these interesting items displayed throughout the living room. My eye was drawn to their bookshelves.
And upon closer inspection, I noticed some of my most beloved books on their shelves. They had a healthy collection of Wallace Stegner novels. Stegner is one of my favorite authors. He’s a master of American literature.
These bookshelves epitomize beauty. I could not resist taking a picture. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Maybe you’ll see some titles you recognize.