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An Interview with Gabby Farina, Herencia Crowdsourcing Intern

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A headshot of Gabby Farina wearing a gray sweatshirt with Wesleyan University in red text on the front.
Gabby Farina, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign. [Photo provided by Gabby Farina]
Today’s interview is with Gabby Farina, an intern working on transcribing the Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents crowdsourcing campaign at the Law Library of Congress

Describe your background

I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania where I spent a lot of time in high school organizing voter registration drives, working the polls during elections, and fostering dogs. Now I attend a small liberal arts college in Connecticut and am spending the summer interning at the Law Library of Congress and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In my free time I enjoy reading, painting with gouache, walking my dogs, and playing the cello.

What is your academic/professional history?

I’m currently a rising junior at Wesleyan University in Connecticut where I’m studying art history and English. At Wesleyan I work as an intern at the Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, I am a course assistant for the orchestra, and serve on the English majors committee. My primary area of interest is art and architecture from Islamic Spain, but I have also spent a lot of time studying medieval art and British literature. After getting a bachelor’s degree in art history and English at Wesleyan, I hope to work at an art gallery in a research position where I can examine the socio-political implications of art and architecture in Islamic Spain. The Library of Congress has provided me with the opportunity to think more about the legal trends occurring throughout Spanish history and about the influence religion plays in social and cultural aspects of society.

How would you describe your job to other people?

In this position I am responsible for exploring, transcribing, and reviewing a collection of Spanish legal documents whose subject matter ranges from domestic relations to criminal cases. The collection has texts in Spanish, Catalan, and Latin, and has illuminated a lot about life in 15th-19th century Spain.

Why did you want to work at the Library of Congress?

As a half-Cuban woman, much of my identity has been shaped by Cuban art and culture, but not many of my studies have provided me with the opportunity to explore Spanish history in a formal setting. By working on the Herencia Crowdsourcing Campaign I was given the opportunity to explore my passion for history, surround myself with Spanish culture, and have engaging conversations with my peers about these legal documents.

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

My most interesting find has probably come from looking at the use of marginalia in these texts. As someone who has spent time studying medieval manuscripts, I was very interested to see how marginalia was employed in Spanish legal documents–and in these documents, I have discovered a lot of interesting diagrams, notations, and marks. Looking at how people have interacted with these texts over the years can help contemporary viewers understand how these documents have been employed and appreciated.

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

I grew up in between the mushroom and Amish capitals of the world (Kennett Square and Lancaster, PA)!

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