Over the past two semesters, I have had the honor to intern at the James Monroe Museum as part of the Albert J. Bowley scholarship program. As I intend to enter the field of public history after graduation, interning a such reputable museum with such an incredible collection (the largest collection of Monroe artifacts in the world) has been an invaluable learning experience. During my time at the museum, I worked with staff on projects related to education, interpretation, exhibit preparation, research, collections management, archival work, and digital history. Thus, it would be impossible for me to relate all of my experiences on this website. However, here are brief overviews of two projects to highlight my experience.
This semester, the James Monroe Museum worked with historian Joann Freeman to produce a short internet documentary film about the troubled relationship between Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe, who almost dueled each other in 1797 over a dispute involving the infamous Hamilton-Reynolds Affair. In preparation for shooting the film, I documented provenience on several Hamilton family documents in the museum’s collection and helped to write interview questions for Dr. Freeman. Later on, I appeared in the film itself, which you can view here.
I also had the opportunity to work on an upcoming exhibit focusing on the hundreds of enslaved laborers owned by James and Elizabeth Monroe during their lifetime. For the most part, I conducted research to find any possible information on the lives of these individuals. While information was scarce, I did uncover the stories of several people. For instance, Thena Hemmings became one of James Monroe’s most trusted enslaved servants before tragically passing away at an early age, leaving behind several children. Discovering and bringing to light the stories of individuals like Hemmings proved to be challenging and saddening, but ultimately rewarding.