Staff Spotlight: Get to know Kate, the SML’s Archives & Special Collections Intern

This spring, the Scott Memorial Library’s Archives and Special Collections department added a third (temporary) member to their team – intern Kate!

Read on to learn about what attracted Kate to the internship and what her favorite item from the Archives has been so far.

Check out the SML’s archives and special collections.

What made you want to apply to be an intern in the Thomas Jefferson University’s Scott Memorial Library and specifically work with the SML’s Special Collections/Archives department?
I’ve always been interested in the history of science and medicine, so I was intrigued by the library’s collections. I also love the more personal, human stories related to this history, which of course one finds a lot of in an archive stretching back as far as Jefferson’s does. As a relatively new resident in the area (I live in Haddonfield), the chance to learn more about local history appeals to me as well!

What type of projects will you be helping out with?
I’m currently working on a couple of different projects. The first is a transcription of notes taken by student William H. E. Wehner during lectures given by Jacob Mendes Da Costa. The notes cover various infectious diseases and their treatments. It’s fascinating to see how medical knowledge and recommendations have changed since the 1880s when Wehner made these notes.

My second project involves updating metadata for Ariel, the Jefferson student newspaper published between 1969 and 1986. Mostly, I’m collecting key words. These will make it easier for researchers to find the specific issues and articles they need. This is a really interesting project so far – the articles cover the major political events of the day, as well as all of the goings-on at Jefferson, from academic matters to social and sporting events.

What are you hoping to learn and get out of this internship experience?
I hope to gain some firsthand experience working with different archival materials and helping to make them more accessible to wider audiences. The transcription and metadata projects are great opportunities for this. I already feel like I’m starting to get the hang of it! I also hope that my experiences at Jefferson will help me gain knowledge that will be useful in graduate school.

Is there a specific type or genre of archival documents or special collections that are most interesting to you? What is something you’ve learned so far that is interesting or something you weren’t expecting to learn about?
As I mentioned above, I have a strong interest in anything and everything related to the histories of science, technology, and medicine. I am especially interested in the social and cultural impacts of changes/advances in scientific and medical knowledge. You really see this in the different issues of Ariel. Notably, the editors of the paper devoted plenty of page space to discussions of disparities in healthcare access and proposals for national health insurance. The student journalists, along with other students and faculty who wrote letters to the editor, talked about issues that still challenge us today, and it is interesting to see how the authors of these pieces advocated for the causes they believed in.