So, I have completed my first week at the library. This week I mostly just got an introduction to the library's collections and on how to run the reference desk. I got a chance to answer a couple reference questions and I learned just how varied these questions can be. It is an interesting experience working at a library that revolves around one historical individual. Because Jefferson is the focal point of the library, detailed questions about his life are to be expected. One patron wrote to us requesting Jefferson's favorite mac and cheese recipe and flower arrangement for his dinner table. This patron had heard that Jefferson loved mac and cheese ( if that turned out to be true, he and I would have had something in common!). However, I could not confirm that this was the case, and after some research I found that Jefferson actually referred to all pasta as "macaroni." Several cookbooks that I consulted that are associated with Jefferson's time at Monticello suggest that "macaroni" was typically used in soups; however there was one baked mac and cheese recipe that was common during the time period.
I then turned to the flower arrangement question. It turns out that the use of flower arrangements as a decoration for dinner tables was not that common in Jefferson's era. Instead, elaborately displayed food dishes were the focal point of the table. So, it is possible that Jefferson never incorporated flower arrangements into his dinner parties. Of course, Jefferson was extremely interested in growing all sorts of plants, including flowers. The staff at Monticello have worked hard to recreate the gardens that were so important to Jefferson. If you want to learn more about them, the historic gardens section of the Monticello website is a very interesting source.
I have also found some time to do a few things outside of work. Last Saturday, I went to Washington D.C. with my brother. As this was my first trip there, I wanted to see all I could, but we ran out of steam after seeing a few sites. Our trip included the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
Hopefully I can get back to D.C. someday and see more of the city.
I also took another fun side trip to the Shenandoah National Park. My brother and I hiked the Jones Run Trail and were rewarded with this view:
Yes, the waterfall is pretty, but if you want my advice, you should admire it from afar -unless you want to slip and fall into freezing water. But then again, if you are a little less clumsy than me, go for it!