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Four teenagers stare up at the grand dome of the Library of Congress.. The students are standing on an overlook and wearing business-casual clothes. The beautiful windows and arches of the dome are visible.
Library of Congress high school teen internship programs stare up at the magnificent dome of the Library of Congress. (Staff photo/Jennifer Ezell).

The Library’s High School Internship Program 2023, Part Two

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What did you do this summer? Over forty teenagers can now answer that question this summer by sharing about their volunteer experiences at the Library of Congress.

30 of these teens volunteered at the National Book Festival on August 12, 2023. They assisted several states in the Roadmap to Reading area, oversaw activities at the Story District children’s reading stage, and reported on author sessions. The teens also curated a list of must-see activities for teens at the National Book Festival which they passed out around the Festival. We thank the contributions these teens made to this year’s National Book Festival and look forward to highlighting more teen activities at next year’s book festival.

In addition to the teens who volunteered during the National Book Festival, 12 participants in the Library of Congress’s high school summer internship program spent four weeks of their summers to creating primary source boxes for an upcoming Library of Congress education center. A few of those teens were able to share in-person about their projects at the National Book Festival. For readers who missed that presentation during the hustle of the National Book Festival, Part One of this blog post introduced some of their projects. Here in Part Two, we’ll dive into four more projects.

Khadija & Caroline: Political Trailblazers

Though both onsite intern Khadija and remote intern Caroline had an interest in politics, they were both slightly intimidated about running for student office. Their research goal was to find inspiration in politicians who broke barriers as the “firsts” to hold office—from Sharice Davis’s exploration of her “big voice”  as one of the first two Native American women to serve in the House of Representatives to a poster from Shirley Chisholm’s  groundbreaking 1972 Presidential campaign. They were most excited that their research uncovered figures that they had never heard of before–such as Octaviano Larrazolo, the first Mexican-American to serve in the Senate. As they reflected, “None of the figures we studied would have made history if they didn’t first make the decision to run for office.”  After a summer studying groundbreaking political leaders, they both decided to run for student government this year.

Daniel & Brianna: Cherokee Culture

Eleventh grader Briana has Cherokee and Choctaw heritage, while senior Daniel recently completed a project about the Cherokee Nation for National History Day. Because of this common interest, they created a primary source box that pulls together different representations of Cherokee people in the Library’s collection. They explored the history of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, with a little help from specialists in the Serials and Government Publications Division who helped Daniel examine collections items onsite. They also looked at contemporary images, such as this Carol Highsmith photograph. Ultimately, they hope that their project challenges stereotypes about indigenous cultures by highlighting the ways that Cherokee people fought for self-determination and expressed their identities, today and in the past.

An ornately decorated border surrounding characters of an alphabet
Cherokee alphabet, characters as written by Sequoyah. (Library of Congress/Rare Books and Special Collection division)

Vivian & Aiden: Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Onsite intern Vivian and remote intern Aiden were both interested in how music and society intersect. They tried to find connections between music and musicians in the Library’s collection, and the Civil Rights movement. Their sources included a photograph of Tina Turner performing for a segregated audience, and the text of a bill for a Congressional Gold Medal posthumously honoring the legacy of Aretha Franklin. As a conclusion to their project, they want young people learning about this topic to ask “What’s your favorite song? What is it REALLY about?” as they make connections between the music we listen to and the world we live in.

Two African-American women wearing short white dresses clap and dance in front of a band in a black and white photograph.
Tina Turner and one of the Ikettes performing at Club Paradise, Memphis / Ernest C. Withers, photographer. (Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress).

 

Kristina & Sophia: Little Women

Voracious readers Kristina and Sophia rounded out our internship cohort. They researched the real-life history behind one of their favorite books, “Little Women”. They explored collections items related directly to author Louisa May Alcott’s life – such as this photograph of Orchard House where she lived. Other items that represented the general time period she was writing in included fashion plates, and photographs of Civil War nurses. They even worked with Informal Learning Office Educational Specialist Rachel Gordon to make a replica of a handkerchief given to Mrs. March in the novel, which they paired with information about this famous handkerchief in the Library’s collection. As they learned how the author was influenced by events she personally witnessed, they wrote a poem inspired by their own experiences—a summer at the Library of Congress.

A photograph of the exterior of Sophia and Kristina’s primary source box. (Alli Hartley-Kong/Library of Congress)

 

Conclusion

The work the teens completed will have a lasting impact on the Library. The materials the teens created will be considered for inclusion in The Source. This is a new education center that will open at the Library in the next few years and provide children and their families a space to discover how research can nourish curiosity, creativity, and change. We are excited to feature teen voices in the new space, and even more excited to have heard from teens enthusiastic about the collections this summer.  The work the interns did helped us see the Library through the eyes of young people. Like all our Library alumni, we hope they will be lifelong advocates for using the Library and its collections—no matter where their future career paths take them.

Comments (6)

  1. Many thanks for creating these extraordinary opportunities for our NextGen, the leaders & visionaries of tomorrow..today!

    • It was our honor to work with such talented and vibrant students this summer.

  2. These capsule summaries are inspiring! I can imagine teachers using them for a reading activity in a class, to see which project resonates most with each student (and therefore which links in this treasure trove of further detail those students will follow), and then to challenge the students to think what would be the box they would want to work on for a Library of Congress internship.

    • Thank you Alison! I agree.

  3. Can you please share with me the contact info for this awesome teen program, as I work w local gifted teen that would be interested in this? Thanks!

    • Hi Jenna! When the call for summer 2024 teen interns go out, we will post it on the following page: https://www.loc.gov/internships-and-fellowships/overview/

      We will also post here at the blog. If you click on the subscribe button, you will get the post directly in your box.

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