Meet Our NEH Summer Intern Class of 2022

This summer, LancasterHistory welcomed six students from colleges and universities across Pennsylvania into our NEH Summer Internship Program. Starting in early June, the interns worked on various individual projects as well as participating in workshops and traveling to other museums throughout the region. In this post, you’ll get to meet each intern and learn about their projects!

Ahmed Abukwaik, Curatorial

What Ahmed Worked On:

A young man gestures with a smile to a large antique clock.
Intern Ahmed stands proudly next to the historic clock he got to wind frequently.

As the Curatorial intern, Ahmed worked under LancasterHistory’s Curator & Director of Collections, Dr. James McMahon. Ahmed’s first project was to catalog collection items in PastPerfect, a museum collection database software. By the end of the seven weeks, Ahmed logged over 200 items. His second task was to research several silver items that are included in the Lancaster in the 60s exhibit on display in Groff Gallery. He cleaned the silver and wrote the label copy that is presented with the items. Ahmed’s final project was working with a set of ceramic plates that are part of a series made by William Adams. Co, a firm that was based out of Stoke, England from 1794 until the 1860s.

About Ahmed:

Ahmed Abukwaik is currently studying Economics and Art History at Franklin and Marshall College. His joint major led him to want to understand material culture and how it can be studied to make inferences or suggestions about political life. Although his courses have focused on arts in the western tradition, he hopes to eventually learn more about arts in the Middle East and North Africa. A fun fact about him is that up until he was13 years old, he thought he would grow up to be an exterminator that specializes in catching snakes, especially poisonous ones.

Favorite Internship Moment?:

Ahmed’s favorite part of the internship was traveling with LancasterHistory staff to assess historic items at a local museum to see what items might be relevant to LancasterHistory’s collections. It was extremely hot and sticky, as it happened to be during one of the more recent heat waves of 90 degree + weather. Ahmed experienced first hand how museum work is not always done inside perfectly climate controlled rooms. It can include sometimes working on the third floor of a historic house without any air conditioning or improvising ways to open the lock of an old, rusted chest!

Ali Murphy, Archives

What Ali Worked On:

A young student sits in a room lined with books. Historic documents are scattered in front of her.
Intern Ali pours over historic documents related to the Gen. Thomas Welsh Collection.

Ali worked under the Director of Archival Services, Heather Tennies, in the Archives. This summer Ali analyzed, arranged, and cataloged additional material for the General Thomas Welsh Family Papers collection. Series G of The General Thomas Welsh Family Papers contained letters, newspaper clippings, documents, ephemera, and photographs from the family of Gen. Thomas Welsh and the family of his son, Blanton C. Welsh. Ali sorted the documents, placed them in acid free folders, sleeves, and boxes, labeled folders, entered data into PastPerfect using controlled vocabulary, and conducted further research on the family and documents when necessary. She hopes to write an extended blog post about her internship experience and a social media post about one of the items in the collection she worked with.

About Ali:

Ali just graduated from Millersville University with a degree in Anthropology (Archaeology) and Fine Arts (Ceramics). Her academic interests include history, fine arts (specifically Italian Renaissance art), world cultures, and political movements regarding equality. A fun fact about Ali is that she is an avid animal lover. Her hobbies include swimming, watching her favorite television shows, spending time with her family and cats, and collecting stickers.

Favorite Internship Moment?:

Ali’s favorite internship moment was when she first handled the General Thomas Welsh Family Papers collection and came across an old newspaper from 1800! The Ulster County Gazette, Vol. II, No. 88, dated January 4th, 1800, included reports and commentary on the death and funeral of George Washington who died December 14th, 1799. The newspaper was probably passed down through Emilie Benson Welsh’s family, the wife of Blanton C. Welsh. Ali says that it was incredible to be handling a document that is 222 years old that has to do with such a prominent moment in history. Unfortunately, later she discovered that the newspaper was actually a reproduction. Ali was disappointed, but the feeling she had when she first handled and learned about the item is still her favorite moment from the internship.


Connor Pearson, Historic Site Preservation

What Connor Worked On:

A young student stands in the bedroom of Buck Henry at Wheatland.
Intern Connor stands in Buck Henry’s bedroom in Wheatland. Connor cataloged many items in this room.

Connor spent much of his internship working in Wheatland, the former home of President James Buchanan. Connor worked primarily with updating, revising, and creating accession records, both digital and physical, of numerous objects on display in the mansion. An accession record is the complete documentation of an object’s history, provenance, a description, and any other information that is relevant or beneficial to have on record. Working with Patrick Clarke, the Director of Wheatland, Connor conducted archival research and used a variety of museum sources to make sure each record was as accurate as could be, while learning about each object and what they mean to the site at the same time.

About Connor:

Connor is a Senior at Millersville University, and is studying Anthropology with minors in History and Geography. His own personal interests and schoolwork in history led to his discovery of the field of anthropology, which helped foster his interest in human and material culture. Museums are a great way to work with both those subjects, so Connor was very excited to take up this internship opportunity. A fun fact about Connor is that he and his family are from the United Kingdom, so he’s had opportunities to travel about the British Isles visiting several historical and cultural heritage sites, furthering his passion for the preservation of historic places. Connor hopes to graduate in the winter of 2022 and is considering graduate school to continue his interest in museum studies.

Favorite Internship Moment?:

Connor’s favorite experience during the internship was being able to meet with different professionals and staff members on the field trips, which let him get a much more personal insight into what it’s like working in the museum field. A standout interaction was having a professional conservator give a lesson on furniture restoration and conservation in Wheatland, another field that interests him.


Jia Colon, Library

What Jia Worked On:

As the Library Intern, Jia created an index of the map collection in the Research Center. The collection is comprised of historical maps of Lancaster and the surrounding boroughs and townships. Jia also looked at advertisements from a German-English newspaper that will be used in the Lancaster in the 60s exhibit.

About Jia:

Jia is a rising Junior at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in History with a minor in German and a certificate in Western European Studies. She enjoys studying the Cold War era of Germany and America. A fun fact about Jia is that in her free time, she enjoys ice skating.

Favorite Internship Moment?:

Jia’s favorite part of the internship has been visiting all of the various museums in the region such as the Tenement Museum and the Museum of the American Revolution. These trips were very insightful in getting to know how museums work behind the scenes.


Rachel Dougherty, Museum Education

What Rachel Worked On:

A young student sits at a desk with a historic book in front of them.
Intern Rachel thumbs through “Goedy’s Lady’s Book” in LancasterHistory’s Coley Book Room.

As the Museum Education intern, Rachel’s project was two-fold and focused on education for different age demographics. First, she helped oversee Storytime for school-aged children in the community. For the program, she selected relevant, historically themed children’s books and designed an accompanying craft for each week in July. The second part of Rachel’s project was working with Dr. Mabel Rosenheck, the Director of Education and Exhibition Planning, to create a hands-on, advertising-based addition to the Lancaster in the 60s exhibit. She researched very different types of advertising from each decade and located primary pieces of advertising (including copies of Godey’s Lady’s Book and ads from Life and Ebony magazines) from the 1860s and 1960s that will be put on display with which visitors can interact.

About Rachel:

Rachel is a rising Junior at Messiah University, where she majors in History with a dual minor in Art History and Studio Art. She also plays tennis and works on the Student Activities Board. She is very interested in pursuing the research of visual and art histories and the study of material culture. A fun fact about Rachel is that she will be studying abroad in Greece and Italy in 2023!

Favorite Internship Moment?:

Rachel’s favorite internship moments have involved getting to know the other interns, contributing to a meaningful exhibition project that aligns with her personal and research interests, working with and getting to know LancasterHistory staff, and taking the tiny James Buchanan figurine on all of their field study adventures!


Will Esposito, Scholarly Research

What Will Worked On:

A young student sits at a desk in the LancasterHistory Research Center.
Intern Will examines the Hubley map in LancasterHistory’s Research Center.

Over the course of the internship, Will researched the 18th century history of Lancaster, more specifically the history of one particular neighborhood in southern Lancaster city. Bethelstown was a neighborhood along South Queen street that ran from a few blocks south of the city center to the banks of the Conestoga river during the 18th and 19th centuries. Will analyzed a recent acquisition to LancasterHistory’s collections, a 1764 map of Bethelstown made by notable Lancaster citizen John Hubley. Hubley made the detailed map showing every resident of the neighborhood when he was only 16 years old! You can view Will’s map of Bethelstown here.

About Will:

Will just graduated from Gettysburg College with a History and Music double major and an Africana Studies minor. While in school, Will was a part of the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, where he studied and took courses in trumpet performance, music theory, and musicology. As a History major, Will took a particular interest in studying the history of letters and letter-writing, studying several collections, including some of the letters of James Buchanan! Outside of school, Will enjoys listening to the radio and spends his free time in college DJing for 91.1 WZBT, “Gettysburg’s Address for the Best New Music.”

Favorite Internship Moment?:

His favorite part of the internship was getting the chance to continue conducting scholarly research after graduating and conducting research on an object that was only recently acquired by LancasterHistory. Getting to see Bethelstown through the eyes of the 18th century residents who lived there was a unique and rewarding experience, one that he could only get by interning with LancasterHistory.

Our interns finished up their program at the end of July, 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 an undergraduate 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