After taking a freshman writing seminar on visual depictions of women reading throughout history, Ellie O’Reilly’s ’20 passion for feminism, art history and English grew.
Thanks to an Arts & Sciences Summer Experience Grant, O’Reilly is spending her summer researching representations of women in early New England. O’Reilly, an English and history of art double major, is working at the Atwood House & Museum in Chatham, Mass as an intern and also working with their early 19th century collection. Summer Experience Grants are awarded by the College of Arts & Sciences Career Development Center and help students to complete summer unpaid or minimally paid career-related experiences.
“Although my project this summer doesn’t deal that much with any literary information,” O’Reilly said, “I still love looking at women of centuries past who had both similar and vastly different life experiences than I’ve had.”
The Atwood House is part of the Chatham Historical Society, which preserves records of earlier generations in Chatham and educates people about the history and culture of Chatham. The Atwood House, built in 1752, is unchanged from when it was built and is furnished as it was during the 18th and 19th centuries.
O’Reilly is studying the archives at Atwood, which are centered around a few families that are important to Chatham history, including the Atwood, Nickerson and Mayo families. O’Reilly is looking into the women from these families, how early photography played a role in their lives and what we can learn about them from their photographs.
“There are so many women whose stories have gone untold thus far, but who have fascinating information to share,” O’Reilly said. “I’m just trying to help them get their stories heard.”
O’Reilly is thinking of a museum career focused on public programming and educational outreach and is a student assistant at the Johnson Museum of Art.
Yvette Lisa Ndlovu is a communications assistant for the College of Arts & Sciences.