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An Interview with Sophie Higgerson, Junior Fellow

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Today’s interview is with Sophie Higgerson. Sophie is a Junior Fellow in the Collection Services Division at the Law Library of Congress.

Sophie Higgerson standing with a bookshelf in the background.
Sophie Higgerson / Photo by Kelly McKenna

Describe your background.

I grew in Vermont and Rhode Island, but went to middle and high school in New Hampshire. Since I moved to Virginia for college, I have found it is easiest just to tell people that I’m from New England. I have loved my time in Virginia and D.C. but there are some things I always miss about home – especially the weather!

What is your academic/professional history?

This past May, I graduated Phi Beta Kappa from William & Mary, where I majored in European Studies with extensive coursework in French and art history. My academic focus is on the architectural and urban history of Western Europe, and I wrote my senior honors thesis on the logic of preservation behind the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Strasbourg, France. I am passionate about historic preservation, material culture, and public engagement with history, and am taking some time to explore potential career fields before seeking an advanced degree. I will be interning at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for eight months after my time at the Library of Congress.

How would you describe your job (or research project) to other people?

I am working on the collection of 44 boxes of 18th century French legal statutes that the Law Library acquired in 1939. I am documenting the key data points, such as titles, dates, and the public officials involved. The collection is a rich repository of decorative woodcuts and printer’s devices, which I am also documenting. So far, I have reviewed two of the boxes, the contents of which primarily deal with taxation and public service. I will be presenting some of my most interesting findings at Display Day, where all the Junior Fellows have a chance to present their work and research to the public. My presentation will probably have to do with private citizens (and sometimes whole towns!) running afoul of the law.

Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

In my time as an undergraduate, I had two internships in libraries and archives- one at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture in Strasbourg and one at the Preservation Society of Newport County in Newport, Rhode Island. I knew that working in the Law Library would be a fantastic opportunity to apply my language skills and historical knowledge, but also a challenge. I have already learned so much, not only about cataloging but also about French history!

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

I was surprised to learn that the Law Library not only has many collections on foreign and international law, but also employs specialists in those various legal traditions.

What’s something most of your co-workers do not know about you?

I also speak German, but not as well as French, so luckily I don’t need it for this project!

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