Meet the Class of 2021 Summer Interns

LancasterHistory is thrilled to welcome this year’s Class of 2021 LancasterHistory NEH Summer Interns. Since starting on June 8, this class of intrepid interns have been working on individual projects as well as travelling to other museums and historic sites in our area to learn more about the fields of museum studies and public history. We’re excited to introduce each intern to you in this post, as well as tell you about their individual projects.

Maura Burrell, Archives

What Maura’s Working On:

Intern Maura Burrell in LancasterHistory's Coley Rare Book Room.
Intern Maura Burrell in LancasterHistory’s Coley Rare Book Room.

Maura’s internship project includes working on a new archival collection about the Gibbons family. The Gibbons family were abolitionists whose farm served as part of the Underground Railroad. In this new collection are many day to day journals, letters, and day books that show the daily life of the family. With the help of the Director of Archival Services, Heather Tennies, Maura is helping with the cataloging, transcribing, and interpreting of these documents.

About Maura:
Maura is a rising Junior in History and Spanish at Saint Joseph’s University. Her academic interests span from across all types of history and politics, in addition to her love of the Spanish language. A fun fact about Maura is that in high school she was a volunteer tour guide at Wheatland! Her hobbies include reading, watching cooking shows, and listening to music.

Favorite Internship Moment So Far:
Maura’s favorite moment so far in the program was the group trip to Philadelphia. Getting to explore the Museum of the American Revolution and the National Constitution Center was a great way to experience a day in the museum world! She enjoyed learning about what it takes to make a museum operate in addition to learning some more history along the way.

Autumn Allison, Curatorial

What Autumn’s Working On:

Intern Autumn Allison holds a woodblock plate from the Florence Starr Taylor collection.
Intern Autumn Allison holds a woodblock plate from the Florence Starr Taylor collection.

Autumn is conducting an inventory for LancasterHistory’s new Florence Starr Taylor Collection. Florence Starr Taylor, born in 1904, was a prominent Lancaster artist known mainly for her drawings of the Amish. The Taylor collection includes countless drawings, sketches, and paintings made by Taylor, as well as magazines and articles detailing her activity in the larger Lancaster community, which Autumn is examining and organizing.

About Autumn:
Autumn is an Oklahoma native and a rising senior at Franklin & Marshall College, joint-majoring in History and Studio Art. While she enjoys studying all types of history, she has a preference for studying urban life throughout history and changing architectural styles, motifs she incorporates into her art. Autumn hopes to continue studying history in graduate school and potentially go on to teach.

Favorite Internship Moment So Far:
Autumn’s favorite part of working on her project so far has been experiencing Lancaster through the eyes of Florence Starr Taylor. Taylor drew many famous Lancaster landmarks as well as smaller places with personal meaning to her. Since Autumn is not native to Lancaster, it has been exciting to see Taylor’s perspective of her hometown through her art.


Jacob Breighner, Library

What Jake’s Working On:

Intern Jacob Breighner leafs through a map book in the Research Center.
Intern Jacob Breighner leafs through a map book in the Research Center.

Jake is creating blog posts each week centered around a text or map in LancasterHistory’s Research Center. He is writing about the importance of each source while connecting it to a modern context. Jake has enjoyed honing his writing voice to present complex historical information to the public in a clear format. He also enjoys being able to read various unique works in the library, ranging from books from the early 1900s to new novels.

About Jake:
Jake is a senior International Studies and Philosophy double major with a Peace and Justice Studies concentration at The University of Scranton. His coursework has mostly focused on History and Political Science. He particularly enjoys studying revitalization history, including post-war settings and major cultural changes. He has recently become interested in Environmental History. Fun fact, Jake is on the Ultimate Frisbee team at his school.

Favorite Moment So Far:
Jake’s favorite thing about the program so far has been meeting people that have similar interests and goals. Jake is always game for deep conversations about the museum world and has enjoyed learning from his peers in the program.


Devon Lewars, Historic Site Management

What Devon’s Working On:

Intern Devon Lewars with the "Works of James Buchanan" in the Research Center.
Intern Devon Lewars with “The Works of James Buchanan” in the Research Center.

As the Historic Site Management Intern, Devon works primarily at President James Buchanan’s Wheatland. Her project for the summer is to research the furniture and materials presented in the rooms of the mansion. With the background information provided by LancasterHistory staff, she is able to make helpful guides for the volunteer tour guides. She is hoping to leave behind something that is educational, helpful, and interesting.

About Devon:
Devon attends Millersville University as a History major with a double minor in Archaeology and Theatre. After graduation, she is planning to get a Master’s in Public History or History. Working at Wheatland has sparked her passion for living history and interpretation and she looks forward to pursuing these interests further in the future. Fun Fact: Devon DJs for her university’s radio station, WIXQ 91.7 The Ville!

Favorite Internship Moment So Far:
Devon’s favorite thing in the program was our day trip to Philadelphia. She said it was a completely different experience from her last visit, which was back in 6th grade! The places we visited and the people we met this summer have impacted Devon in many positive ways. She is also happy to now call the other interns friends.


Cassandra Wilk, Museum Education

What Cassandra’s Working On:

Intern Cassandra Wilks holds a medicine jar from the Heinitsh Pharmacy chest.
Intern Cassandra Wilks holds a medicine jar from the Heinitsh Pharmacy chest.

As the Museum Education intern, Cassandra’s project contains two types of educational tools. For the first part of her project, she has researched apothecaries in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and learned about the Heinitsh family. She is creating an interactive timeline following the family’s apothecary from its opening day to its closing day 152 years later, through multiple ownership changes within the family. To introduce children to the idea of apothecaries, she is creating smelling jars. Apothecaries sold more than just medicine and drugs, they also frequently sold spices and extracts. To create these smelling jars, she is poking holes in the top of a mason jar, painting the mason jar so the contents on the inside can’t be seen, and then putting each of the following spices into a jar: cinnamon, saffron, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract. All of these items could at one point be purchased at the Heinitsh family’s apothecary.

About Cassandra:
Cassandra is a rising senior at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. She is double majoring in Biology and Anthropology & Sociology. She runs cross country and track & field at Lafayette. When she started college, she did not originally envision herself at a museum, but classes and learning opportunities drew her to the museum field. During the school year, Cassandra works as a supplemental instructor for introductory biology classes. She also works with a professor to curate an ornithology collection. When she’s not running, studying, or working, Cassandra love to go bird watching. Her bird watching goal is to see an owl in the wild. The most exciting bird she has seen so far has been the Tundra Swan.

Favorite Internship Moment So Far:
Cassandra’s favorite part of this internship so far, aside from all the amazing field trips, has been being able to touch and look at a medical chest owned by John F. Heinitsh and Charles A. Heinitsh – with medicines from over a hundred years ago still in there. This experience has helped Cassandra realize how much medicine has progressed over time and she has really enjoyed getting to have hands-on experience with this object.


Abigail Baxter, McNeil Center for Early American Studies C. Hallett Hemphill Intern

What Abigail’s Working On:

Intern Abigail Baxter reviews some historic furniture and decor in the Collections Classroom.
Intern Abigail Baxter reviews some historic furniture and décor in the Collections Classroom.

As the McNeil Center research intern, Abigail is doing work for the forthcoming Thaddeus Stevens & Lydia Hamilton Smith Historic Site. She is researching who lived in the house at what time and exploring whether any family members, domestic staff, or other individuals lived in the home with Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Hamilton Smith. In addition, she is also looking into who lived on the street during Stevens’ time at that location. Overall, Abigail’s goal is to get a sense of both the historical timeline of ownership of the property and a conception of the atmosphere of the block as a whole.

About Abigail:
Abigail is a rising junior at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., majoring in History. She enjoys learning about a wide range of historical periods and recently has taken history classes ranging from “The Mongols: World Destroyers or Civilization Builders?” to “The Beatles in the US and the UK.” One of Abigail’s particular interests is historical dress, a subject which she loves to research and learn about in her free time. One fun fact about Abigail is the amount of states she has lived in: five, including Georgia, Arizona, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee.

Favorite Internship Moment So Far:
Abigail’s favorite event of the program thus far has been visiting the Museum of the American Revolution. She found the exhibits to be very innovative and engaging! In terms of research, her favorite discovery has been the history of the Hubley Hotel (the White Swan) which, for several years, was owned and operated by a fascinating woman named Rosina Hubley and was one of the most popular taverns in town.

Our interns are finishing up their program this month, and we will surely miss their presence on campus. However, we wish them all the best in all their future endeavors (and to visit us again soon)!

If the LancasterHistory NEH Summer Internship program sounds like something you’d be interested in (or a college student you know!), you can learn more about the program on our website here.

Support for the LancasterHistory NEH Summer Internship program provided by a
National Endowment for the Humanities We the People Challenge Grant.

National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed on this website, do not necessarily represent those of
the National Endowment for the Humanities.

From Notes From The Library