This post was written by Abigail Sears, a 2022 alumni of the Library of Congress High School Summer Internship program who returned as a volunteer for the program in 2023.
During July of 2023, the Library of Congress welcomed twelve teenagers from various parts of the country to participate in its High School Summer Internship program, administered by the Informal Learning Office. The interns spent their time researching the library’s vast and diverse collections and meeting with experts across the Library, organized by Program Specialist Jennifer Ezell. The teens then shared their research by creating primary source boxes for families to explore in the Young Readers Center-Programs Lab onsite at the Library. The internship followed a hybrid approach, with local interns working on-site at the library while others participated remotely from several different states. Informal Learning Office staff Jennifer Ezell, Rachel Gordon, Lauren Windham Roszak, Alli Hartley-Kong, Monica Valentine and Junior Fellow Amanda Roberts each mentored a pair of teens. Each pair successfully completed the internship with a prototype of an interactive physical box which may be selected for inclusion when the The Source: Creative Research Studio for Kids, a new education center at the Library for kids age 8-13 that is part of the Visitor Experience Master Plan, that will open in the next few years. Until The Source opens, you can follow along at home with our project summaries below.
Sam & Doug: Basketball
Sam and Doug were onsite interns. During their four weeks with us, they delved into the origins of basketball and how the game has evolved over time into the sport we know and love today. Their sources included a photo of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, an 1893 article discussing the sport’s benefits, and the video below documenting a girls’ basketball game from 1904 filmed at Missouri State College. After completing their research, both researchers discussed how the sources they found helped them learn about the origins of their favorite sport. “Now, whenever we watch basketball on TV, we are reminded of how far the game has come.”
Cecilia & Gabriella: Voting Rights
Onsite intern Cecilia and remote intern Gabriella were assigned the broad theme of activism and human rights. They centered their research on voting rights advocacy, as both had experience writing about and volunteering for voter registration drives. The duo curated a diverse collection of materials for their box representing different movements for voting rights including women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement. They selected items that they thought younger children might relate to, such as a photograph of a 13-year old suffrage activist from 1910, photographs of young activists in the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965 and even a recording of the popular women’s suffrage anthem “Daughters of Freedom” made in 1998 by performers who actually worked at the Library! Additionally, the group developed a reflection activity for the public, allowing visitors of all ages to experience the significance of voting by voting for the most popular hobby. Gabriella explained that selecting this topic made it feel “more personal to an audience of kids and students like me.”
Stay tuned for part two of this blog next month, where we’ll delve into the research from the other pairs, on topics such as music during the Civil Rights period, the real-life events behind “Little Women”, the fascinating history of the Cherokee Nation, and American trailblazers! Teens attending the National Book Festival on August 12 can network with current and past Library’s high school interns during teen meetups at 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Story District, Hall DE (Level 2, North Building). Visitors of all ages will also have the chance to hear the teens deliver research talks at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. at the Informal Learning Office table in the LC-Adams Hall. Finally, if you visit the Young Readers Center-Programs Lab in the Thomas Jefferson Building in the next few weeks, keep an eye out for prototypes, which should be on display soon!