Sunday, July 10, 2011


If you are wondering why it has taken so long for me to update this blog, it is not entirely because I am lazy. I have packed a lot of activity into the past couple of weeks, and now here I am to tell you all about it!

I think I will back track a little and start by talking about the lecture I went to at Monticello on June 23rd. The speaker was Michael Kranish, a journalist and former fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies (located next to the library). Kranish was discussing his book, Flight From Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War. I have not gotten the chance to read it yet, but after hearing Kranish speak, I think I will have to get around to it soon. The book is about the low point in Jefferson's governorship of Virginia during the Revolutionary War. Jefferson was accused of being a coward because he fled from Richmond when the British invaded Virginia, in a mission led by Benedict Arnold who was attempting to capture Jefferson. Kranish tried to redeem Jefferson somewhat by showing how most of his actions can be explained by a desire to protect his family, not himself, and if you really look at the details, Jefferson actually acted quite bravely. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, and there are many things Jefferson could have done differently. Kranish shared all sorts of amusing anecdotes, which he assured us were included in the book. One story he shared with us was Jefferson's meetings with British officers who were prisoners of war - for the purpose of playing music with them. If you are interested in the Revolutionary War in Virginia, and Jefferson's role in it particularly, this would be a good book to check out.

The Friday after Kranish's talk, I decided to take a nice historical trip to Philadelphia. My boyfriend, Richard, was kind enough to accompany me on this trek through the city. We visited the Liberty Bell Center, glanced at Independence Hall and the Betsey Ross house, and stopped by the Declaration House and the old courthouse. The old courthouse was probably my favorite part.
  The Old Courthouse

All of our other stops were a little bit disappointing. the Declaration House, especially, was a little bit lame. The liberty bell was a little smaller than I anticipated and in order to reach it you have to walk through an endless stream of exhibits telling you a variety of interesting and trivial facts about the bell. I was glad that I went to Philadelphia, but overall, I was not too impressed with the historical sites I visited.
 Richard in front of the Liberty Bell

When I returned to Charlottesville, I had a couple days to recover and then my mother and two brothers came for a visit! While they were here, we visited Ocean City, Maryland - where I got an atrociously uneven sunburn, because apparently I am not capable of applying sunscreen properly. Oh well. On our way back from Maryland we stopped by Washington D.C. for the day so that my younger brother could see the monuments. This time I got to visit the National Archives and the Air and Space Museum, both of which I enjoyed very much. I really enjoyed the exhibits at the National Archives, but the part where you get to see the original Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, was not quite as compelling to me. My father joined our group on Saturday in Charlottesville and was able to spend the 4th of July with us! I went with my parents to the Naturalization Ceremony that the Foundation hosts on the West Lawn every year. The speaker this year was Muhtar Kent, the CEO of Coca-Cola. It was a hot and humid day, which made it a little difficult to completely enjoy the ceremony, but I did really enjoy the part at the end where some of the new citizens were asked to share their personal stories. It seemed like a large percentage of them had already been living in the US for a couple decades. Unfortunately, thunderstorms prevented us from enjoying a fireworks show that evening, but overall I had a pretty good 4th!

Now, my family has left and I am getting used to my old schedule at work again. The summer is going by so quickly - I only have four weeks of my internship left! :-( I think I am sort of getting the hang of cataloging, but I'm pretty sure that is not the direction I want to pursue in my career.  I'm becoming more and more grateful that reference is the department that selected me for this internship. I love answering reference questions and working on the encyclopedia articles! Speaking of which, I finally finished a draft of my Barbary Pirates article, so hopefully that will be revised and online within the next couple of weeks!

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