me in the Land of Lincoln

me in the Land of Lincoln
my alleged work face

my work desk

my work desk
my junky work desk where I do my research at the office

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This is my final blog entry for my internship experience. I will do an update when I return in February since that will be an extension of the internship. I have truly enjoyed myself. I wouldn't mind returning there every once in a while. I learned that I really enjoy doing research and presenting it for others to learn from. So I guess I will start taking the path towards historian. Of course, with a few letters attached. Ok, Dr. Camesha Scruggs, PhD. sounds quite nice. Enough daydreaming. On with the blog.

Monday - Started my final day in Springfield. I went to my last staff meeting. It was kind of sad. I sat through the meeting and started remembering everyone and how I changed throughout this experience. The walks through the park and talking to the rangers and maintenance. Spending time in the visitor center with the volunteers. Talking with Nikia via messenger. A daily "rambling report" with Tim. All of my devices at my work desk along with my workstation. After work events with the rangers. I really will miss everyone. They have made my life richer. I went to my desk and started packing things into a box. All of my research notes, post it notes, and other stuff at my desk. I went around and delivered the last of my thank you notes. I came back to my office to my completed site bulletin. I finished my presentation packets so they could be fedexed out. I ordered another debit/credit card. My boss called me into his office. He gave me a gift bag full of Lincoln home goods. I went to lunch with Nikia. My boss gave me a goodbye hug. I turned in my keys and left the Beedle house/office for the last time. I walked slowly from my office through the site on my way home. I had to remember that I will be back in February. Josh and I went to the mall to find a suit. I have to admit, he was a helpful guy. We did laundry. I came home to pack luggage and things to ship home. Sam came over and helped. I realized that I was actually leaving in a few hours to go to DC for the rest of the week.

Tuesday - Sam took me to the airport. He stayed with me until I had to go through security and get on the plane. Made it to St. Louis for a 3 hour layover. I got on my plane and headed to DC and finally made it. Brandon, a friend of mine from home was there to pick me up. Since I still needed a suit, we headed straight for the mall. The first suit he found fit perfectly and was in the price range I wanted. We left the mall and he showed me his place. We talked about old times. He took me to my hotel and I checked in. The hotel was beautiful! My room mate came and we walked to our intro dinner. The restaurant was cozy. Enjoyed the ambiance. Met the other interns. We were concerned about presentation order for the next day. We finally walked back to the hotel. I caught up with Kevin, a friend from home who went to the same church I did as a kid. We went for drinks and karaoke. Enjoyed it! It was like old times. we drove around and sang at the top of our lungs through DC. I finally made it back and settled in for the night.

Wednesday - Rocking the fly suit, took the metro to the National Park Service headquarters. We got settled and started the day. Went through introductions and started doing our presentations. I was afraid that I didn't follow the format. Everyone in the room got a presentation packet. I have to admit, I did an awesome job on the presentation. I got a lot of good and positive feedback. We went to lunch and networked with various folks that work with the National Park Service. We went to the Frederick Douglass home. It was great to see the home of another great American. There was a contrast between his home and Lincoln's, of course. Another NPS historic home to add to my photo collection. We arrived back at the office and went back to the hotel. I settled in because I was beat.

Thursday - Day 2 of the workshop. We spoke with employees of NPS. They told us of the career options within the organization. A small career day of sorts. We walked over to the Smithsonian.We walked into the museum of the American Indian. The building was beautiful! We had lunch at the museum. I ate my first buffalo burger. I may see this as another meat option. We had a personal tour by the head curator and an intern. The interpretive staff were Native American. They gave a personalized aspect to the tour, which was different from someone who simply researched and recited information. After our tour, I hung out with a few of the interns. we browsed an outdoor black bookstore. It was truly exciting. We took the metro back to the hotel to prepare for the farewell dinner. The Indian restaurant had some great nan and lycees. I have expanded my culinary horizons this year. I will have to do that more when I return back to Houston. After the restaurant, we decided to go out and explore the city for a while. A few of us went to a bar/club. Enjoyed a few drinks and danced the night away at the club in the back. We made it back to the hotel and settled in for a nap before our last day together as a group.

Friday - Another day of workshops. Today was a round table discussion session. Even though the tables were set up in a rectangle. :) Today's topic was about careers outside of National Park Service with people who once worked for or were associated with the National Park Service. Every opportunity was available, from museum curator to adjunct professor, the possibilities seem endless. I met Bob Stanton, first African American and former National Park Service Director. He told us that we have a responsibility to tell the truth. I agreed with that statement wholeheartedly. We discussed that we also have to recruit other brilliant folks like us to do this internship. I was motivated to come back to TSU and try to find a few. We left the workshop and went to lunch at Ceiba, a Latin American restaurant. Then we went to the Newseuem. The entrance was a display of daily newspapers from every state. The museum covered every aspect of the news from radio, print, television, and the internet. There were so many things to see. An FBI 100 year exhibit, a portion of the Berlin Wall, and the news antenna from one the 9/11 twin towers were just a few of the things to see. The entire museum was a great experience. Not to mention, a great view of the capitol building from the 6th floor terrace. Everyone went their separate ways. Corri and I went to dinner and then I headed back to my room to pack and prepare for my flight back home.

Saturday - Got up extra early. Brandon took me to the airport. Just a sweetie pie. Went through the whole ordeal of security. Arrived at my gate just in time to board. Sat next to a couple who said that they should have gotten the first class upgrade when they were checking in. I actually thought about it, but didn't have the extra $100 on me. I plugged myself into my cell phone, listened to Kayne West's "homecoming", read my Essence magazine, and enjoyed my flight to St. Louis. I got off the plane to CNN reporting that Bernie Mac died. I returned calls and texts during my layover. Finally got on the plane headed to Dallas I was so excited! I was on my way back home, or at least to my home state. I finally arrived at DFW. Went shopping and did lunch with my mom, sis, and aunt Diann. Enjoyed it! Finally came home and crashed!

Sunday - Went to Zion, my real home church. My best friend Kevin showed up. It was if we were kids again. I chatted with my senior pastor. He told me, "stay with the ship". That was all the inspiration I needed. I got lots of love from my senior first lady. It was as if they were all proud of me. I got to see people I haven't seen in years. It was kind of like a homecoming. I hung out with a couple of friends. It was a great start to a week of rest

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Week 9

I am going to have to do a little adjusting. This place has grown on me. I can see myself occasionally coming back to visit. Actually, I will try in February for the bicentennial. Lincoln kind of has that effect on me; not the "fear of five dollar bills" (a fear that I would not want to see a five dollar bill after spending an entire summer around the Abraham Lincoln home) that I predicted that I would have. Ok, enough rambling. Here's the blog.

Monday - More corrections to my manuscript. I got an interesting call from the Lincoln Public Library. The local collection called to tell me that they found a new article. This article talked about a woman who worked for the Lincolns in Springfield. Mind you, I have spent hours reviewing microfilm looking for newspaper articles. Needless to say, I was excited to find this one. This woman brought my grand total of researched hired girls to 18. I went over and got the copy of the article. There was also another article that confirmed one of my previous hired help that I had researched. A good day overall. Added the information. Went home, settled in and prepared for the next day.

Tuesday - Today was TV interview day. I was going to be on a show titled, "Pamela Speaks". After a few wardrobe changes, I finally decided on a dress shirt and silk skirt. I wanted to look professional as well as diva. I went into work and Marie, the admin assistant for the Student Conservation Association came into my office. I knew she was coming, but I thought it was going to be in the afternoon. She brought gifts for me and Josh, tshirts and maple syrup from New Hampshire. I thought that was very sweet of her. Josh mentioned to her that I was doing an interview. I didn't really think anything of it. I knew that I would mention them. So, I went home to try to find a SCA logo to put on me somewhere. I was already wearing my National Park Service badge. I went to my welcome kit. I found a croc ornament. It happened to fit within my buttonhole on my dress shirt. I felt like I was a walking billboard. I left the office with entourage (Josh, Marie, and her husband) in tow and walked from the Lincoln home to the Old State Capital. I get there and my PR guy is filming. Just great! But he made me feel comfortable and it was nice to see him. Dick Hart is also there as a part of the taping as well. So, I had a support staff. The interview went well. I talked about my research and how I think it would impact the community. Marie said that she was proud and that I have to get that information back to the home office so they can know about it. After the interview, I went to lunch the host of the show and my PR guy. It was very pleasant. Nice conversation about everything from religion to the stereotype of historians. She mentioned that she wanted to take my research and develop it into a one act play to present to the community. I was a little surprised by that. We exchanged business cards and parted ways. I finally went back to my office. I talked with my boss, Tim and I got overwhelmed for a moment. Interviews, meetings, etc. was a little much for me. I consider myself to be person who doesn't want to be in the spotlight. I like to provide support behind the scenes. I thought I was supposed to just do the research, write a manuscript, and go home. So, I voiced my concern to my PR guy. I know that he has a job to promote my work. But, I just want to do the work and present it for the greater good; not have a lecture circuit, books, and a bobble head doll. Nor do I want to become possessive and refuse to relinquish or release my research for anyone to gain from it. Which is why I think I want to do public history or a start research consulting firm. I shall see what the future holds. Tonight was the weekly flag lowering ceremony at Lincoln's tomb. Me and my entourage went out there. The weather starts to look a little unpleasant. Next thing I know, there is a small dirt storm and a heavy downpour. It was just horrible. I just knew that everyone would have to find shelter inside the tomb. After a few minutes, it finally subsided. The ceremony started a little later than usual. At the end of the ceremony, the flag that has flown over the tomb is raffled off and given away. Marie was the lucky recipient. I think that really was a memorable part of her trip to visit us in Springfield. We went to dinner afterwards. We talked about career opportunities within the organization. After this long day, I finally made it home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - I got into work a little early. Susan, the curator gives special tours for the park employees called "behind the rail", which lets us actually touch the artifacts. After donning the special government issued white gloves, we were able to go through the house. It was great to be able to touch things that Abraham Lincoln owned. For example, to actually touch the desk that he used in the house to write was an experience that I will never forget. I also had a chance to see my boss Tim work in his capacity as a historian. He gave a tour to a group of young people who were visiting and preparing for a debate contest. It was nice to see and makes me really want to consider public history. I went back to my office, worked on the manuscript and the power point presentation that I had to give to the park rangers on Thursday. I finally went home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Thursday - I gave my power point presentation to the park rangers. They appreciated my work. they also gave me suggestions for my presentation. I considered this to be my rough draft, or dry run for my DC presentation the following week. After my presentation, my boss tells everyone that I will be going to DC. He also tells them that I will be coming back in February to do a lecture for the bicentennial events at the Lincoln home. I was shocked! Once again, I thought I was supposed to just do the research, write a manuscript and go home. Obviously, not the case. So, I will be back in Springfield to celebrate the bicentennial. I am excited! I came back to the office and made changes per the suggestions from the rangers. I added a few lines to my manuscript. I finally left the office. I was walking home and realized that I would be leaving the site in a few days. I started to realize that I was going to come back as a different person than when I left to come here. I went home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Friday - I came into my office. Printed up a quick summary of my research. I had a meeting with a Nikki from an organization named "Looking for Lincoln". This organization has signs all over the state that tells stories about Lincoln that children that understand and learn from them. The meeting went well. We discussed making another wayside sign that talks about the hired girls. Also, she was going to add the information to a production reenacting Lincoln's farewell address in Springfield. Once again, surprised that my research is being used in so many different ways. I left that meeting and went out into the site. I had park rangers telling me that they were already using my information in the tours and the response has been great. That made my day. Today was a lunch meeting with Tim, Katharyn Harris (library mom) and Dick Hart. We met up at a downtown restaurant. I have to admit, I will miss that part of Springfield. I will have to take time to discover the non-franchise, locally owned restaurants in Houston when I return. I enjoyed my lunch. I gave my "mom" a thank you note. She appreciated the thought. I got back to my office. Josh and I decided that we should visit New Salem before I leave. New Salem is the town that Abraham Lincoln lived in before he came to Springfield. We went out there in the heat of the day. It was an entire area that was recreated to look the way it did when Lincoln was there. That seems to be a fascination with historic sites. Ok, the whole purpose would be the better term. Historical accuracy is the professional term. This site is a state operated site, which received budget cuts through laying off, or firing seasonal employees. It is sad that the site has to suffer due to the whims of a state's government. One would think that the Lincoln sites would remain open in anticipation of the bicentennial. or be staffed to the max because it is summer travel season. I would think that these sites impact tourism and the local economies. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyhow, this is a couple of miles of log cabins, farmland, and roads that are set to look like 1830's central Illinois. The scenery was beautiful. I realized that I was not prepared for this visit. Not to mention, out of shape. Motivation to do better. Get more exercise so I can feel and look better. By the end of the visit, I felt gross and my feet were sunburned. I didn't think that was possible for me. Lesson learned: get sunscreen. We left the park and returned home. I ran straight for my shower to get all of the humid nastiness off of me. I was invited to go to hear a friend play downtown that night. I left my house and walked downtown. I made it in enough time to catch the last set. It was truly a joy to watch. I sat at the table with Mr. Lockhart, the glass maker I met last Friday. After the set, I sat and talked with the band. I walked home, settled in and prepared myself to enjoy my weekend.

Saturday - I finally woke up and did my usual Saturday morning ritual. HGTV and Food Network. Nikia and I went to lunch. I went back into my office to start working on my presentation packets for DC. I wanted to make sure that the people attending the workshop next week would have something to remember my research and internship by. My plan was to finally check out the mass transit system and go to the mall. I needed a suit for my presentation that I would be giving next week. I went to the ATM to get cash so I can get change for the bus. I got the cash and the receipt, not the card. I didn't realize until I got on the bus that I didn't have my card. By then, it was too late. I went ahead and rode the bus out to the mall. Of course, Springfield's mass transit is not like Dallas or Houston. Then again, there really is no need to have several buses and light rail. It was a nice break outside of my apartment. I finally made it back downtown. I went home for a few minutes to grab a blanket. This was the night that the movie in the park was rescheduled to. The attendance was sparse. Then again, the night before, a movie night in the park event was done at a bigger park with 3,000 people coming to watch the "wizard of oz" on an outdoor screen. That was fine with me. I finally saw "the bee movie". It was a cute movie. After the movie, I walked home, settled in and went to bed.

Sunday - My final worship service. I was a little saddened. I'd started to feel at home and it was time to go. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the FOH. But this was like my summer home. If I come back, I also want to visit other churches. Especially the historic African American ones. No matter where I go, I have to find my center. Churches are historically known as a cultural center. Churches held an important place in the Civil Rights movement, for example. This was the place where community meetings were held and to get information or instruction on the plan of action like marches and boycotts. Sorry, had a history nerd moment for a minute. But for me, it is a spiritual center that I have to have. I came home and started to pack. My goal is to only take one suitcase when I leave Springfield headed to DC. I refuse to give airlines extra money for luggage. I finally settled in, and prepared myself for my last day in Springfield, Illinois.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Week 8

2 months. it seems like I have been here for quite a while. Just one more week and then off to DC and then back home. Back to the things I was doing before I came here to Springfield. Here's the blog.

Monday - In the wee hours of the morning, I FINALLY finished my manuscript. I took a nap and got up for work. I read it to make sure that everything made sense. I know I was up late typing and some things may have been out of place. The work came to 15 pages. Very few footnotes. So a majority of it was actual writing. Now, I have to put that same type of work into my senior seminar for the fall semester. Now I know that type of work can be done. Maybe I can take some of this info and use it for my senior seminar. After printing copies, I made it a point to personally deliver copies to historians and researchers that ave helped me with my project this far. It was nasty and humid. Not to mention, I felt like I was a girl scout delivering cookies wearing khaki and white. Of course. I had to add a bit of flair with a scarf. Ok, maybe I wasn't a girl scout. A diva esque troop mom. Coincidentally, Josh had the same color scheme in mind when he got dressed that morning. It was funny. I think we've been hanging together too long. We were coordinated. Kinda scary. Anyhow, I delivered all copies of manuscripts. By the time I finished, it was time to go home. Josh and I went to walmart. I needed crazy glue to fix my faithful laptop bag. We came home to watch the show, "History Detectives." The top story was to find out if someone had a document actually signed by Abraham Lincoln. Nerd, I know. This Lincoln thing sticks with you. Once you start researching, you keep finding things. The woman found out that the document was fake. However, the person that signed the sheet music was a guard of Lincoln. The schemers had him sign the document in his older years. Then, they forged Lincoln's signature. That was just mean! The things people do to change history. Which is why I appreciate my job. I take only the facts, and present them for others to see, or tell a different side of the story. After that, Josh went home. I settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Tuesday - With the weight of the manuscript lifted for a moment, I started to work on the site bulletin. This is a snapshot of my work that the public can get their hands on. When someone comes to the park, they can get a pamphlet that tells about a certain thing or event. Of course, mine will cover the story of the hired girl and the hired help that worked at the Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois. The fact that my research is going into this is mind boggling. I consider myself just a researcher. I just want to find the information. Not present or profit from it. I'll let someone else do all of that. Which has gotten me to thinking of a business venture as a historical research consultant. I will have to see how that pans out. Created an outline, tried to pick out info that the public would want to know and still keep it historically interesting. Went home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - Midweek. yay. Came in and worked on the site bulletin. Decided since it was the middle of the week, I'd work until the middle of the day. I left the office. Went home and actually watched a soap opera. Something I haven't done in years. It reminded me of times I spent with my grandmother, Pearl, or Dear, as I called her. I think she'd be proud of me. There are times when I accidentally dial her number. Just so I can hear her voice and I can tell her about my work here. I can hear her say, "very good." and we would talk about when I was coming home. I also know that my great grandmother, Naomi, or Maw Maw, as I called her would listen to everything I said about my project and asked me if I have read all of the materials that could help me with my work. These women instilled confidence and a love for knowledge into me at a very early age. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity, actually, the privilege to be in the presence of these women before they left this earth. Ok, enough sappiness. I am always crying about something in each week of my blog. I have to stop that. Went to the lecture. The topic was about equality struggles in African American history. Dr. Kemayo talked about how Frank McWhorter, the first African American who founded the town of New Philadelphia, Illinois was a visionary. He brought up the point that he paid for his wife's freedom first. He also freed himself and 16 of his family members which cost him $14000. Of course, the interesting young man was at the lecture. We were texting throughout the lectures points that we discussed since the last lecture. I wondered if the lecturer tapped our conversations. Dr. Kemayo gave me thee advice that I have to see myself as an academic colleague when I get to graduate school. Also, he suggested to find a school that is supportive. Some professors make it a point to diminish the morale of graduate students. After the lecture, Josh and I grabbed dinner. The interesting young man wanted to know if I was going to watch the CNN special, "Black in America." That was an obvious one. He came over with roses. I thought was very sweet of him to do, but a bit much just to watch tv. Anyhow, watched the show and discussion ensued and was enlightening as usual. Sent him home, settled in and prepared for the next day.

Thursday - My PR guy managed to get me to meet with two interesting individuals. My first meeting was with John Crisp. He is at the Harriet Tubman Susan B. Anthony Center. I learned a lot. He brought me into this room that was a tribute to African American history. There were photos of local and national African Americans. I thought that very interesting. He also had inventions by African Americans. There were some that I knew. There were some that i didn't know. We talked about my project. He talked about how it was interesting that I was in Springfield for two months and no one in the African American community knew I was here. A part of me thought the same thing. Yet another part of me thought, " I am here to do academic research work." This issue divides me occasionally. As a historian, I have to be unbiased. But I can't simply put down my race and gender. These things define me also. I am sure as I grow professionally, I will get over this small issue. I hope that Camesha Scruggs can simply provide information in an unbiased manner. I also met Idris Qadeem. He has a bookstore that I would consider to be Pan-African. The books covers various topics in the African diaspora. We also discussed my project. We talked of how I am changing the face of historical research. I love African American history, but I have to be able to work outside of that area. I know that I will not lose my identity and legacy of my ancestors as I move ahead in my academic career. These wonderful men took me to lunch. We went to a restaurant called Gateway to India. Lunch was great. Afterwards, they gave me a driving tour of the African American side of town. They told me stories of how they would play in open fields, storefront of black businesses. I truly enjoyed myself. That was kind of my Lincoln Home break. I finally left their company in enough time to return the G ride and go home. I settled in, enjoyed my evening, and prepared myself for the next day.

Friday - I came into my office with the expectation of receiving manuscripts and making modifications. I get a call from Dick Hart. He asked me to meet with a group of kids he was working with. He asked me to talk to them about my project and "inspire them." I thought I was only supposed to do research, write a manuscript, and go back home. So much for that. Today was a casual Texas Southern t-shirt and jeans kind of day. I met the group. I took a public tour for the first time since I have been in the park. It was interesting to watch the rangers do their job and how the public took in the information they were receiving. It made me think that my research work will be given to thousands of people from everywhere in the form of this tour. Mind boggling. We finished the tour and walked back to their summer work site. We talked about what their goals and aspirations are. I realized that even as an aspiring historian, I still have to reach back into whatever community I am in and contribute. I made it back to my office and took a break before picking up my manuscripts. I got all of them back. 15 pages multiplied times 7. I don't do math. That was a lot of paper. Each one made very good points for me to consider and modify. I appreciate their input and assistance. I finally left the office and went home. Settled in and prepared myself to enjoy my weekend.

Saturday - I spent the day with new found girlfriends in Springfield. Nikia, Ebony, and I went to the nail salon. I DESPERATELY needed a pedicure. I refused to be talked about because my feet look a moving mess. We went to an Asian bistro restaurant. The food was great. Afterwards, we went to see the movie, Sex in the City. I enjoyed my day with the girls. I made it home close to midnight and settled in and went to bed.

Sunday - Another worship service. Today was youth Sunday. The sermon was more like a panel or summit. An interesting format. The discussion was for youth to be an example. Don't let your youth be a deterrent to the job you have as a Christian. That same message can be applied to any Christian. Don't let your (age, race, sex, hindrance, etc.) get in the way of the work that has to be done. I know, I'm not supposed to be preaching. But, it touched me personally. I came home and did a little editing to my manuscript and started looking at what can be sent ahead of me as I get ready to work my last full week at the Lincoln Home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Week 7

Well, I have 2 weeks left in Springfield. The weather is starting to feel like Houston. I know I will miss this mild version in the middle of August. Here's the blog.

Monday - Last day of research. I made final notes and started on my outline for my manuscript. I finally started working on my manuscript. Trying to make it sound as scholarly as possible. This may be the foundation for the remainder of my academic career. I would hate for real history scholars to tear it apart and use it as shipping confetti. This project is like a coming out party for me. I want this work to not only impact the people here in Springfield, but to provide insight to others who come along after me who look into the life of this man named Abraham Lincoln. I want people to walk away from the Lincoln home and say,"I didn't know that until now." I don't want this project to seem like it is lacking. I know, I am really putting too much worry and emphasis into it. Came home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Tuesday - Went to a lecture about Mary Lincoln as a hostess. It gave me insight into the gracious side of Mary Lincoln. But she still couldn't have done it without hired help. After the lecture, I asked the speaker what her insight was into the hired help. She had nothing. So, my information can pretty much be the standard. So I took a break and went to lunch with Josh and Susan, the park curator. I feel like my passion for history and enthusiasm are my only playing cards when I talk with other historians. I hope that those things remain, but with an enhanced knowledge of the gammut of history. I think that this experience has taught me that the love and enthusiasm is good, but there needs to be more. Josh and I went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Musuem. I went for the second time. This time, I didn't cry. However, I was being stalked by the security guards. Maybe because I had my bluetooth earpiece and my phone. I was asked to take any calls outside and PDA like devices are not allowed in the exhibit areas. I thought, "ok, what harm could I do?" But I know that they take artisic license and property rights seriously. Obviously, I was on the hitlist. Every other exhibit I went into in the rest of the museum, I was watched. I finally made it home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - Writing the manuscript. I just want to make sure that the information that I present makes sense. I also want to make sure that the information is presented correctly. I am really letting 6 weeks of research get to me when it's time to put it on paper. If I could do just a power point presentation or just talk about it, I would be ok. But, the purpose of the project is to enhance my skills as a historical researcher. Or as a friend of mine said, " to test my chops." So I stayed in my office and stared at the screen for yet another day and eeked out a couple of paragraphs. Went to another archaeology lecture. The lecture this week covered a city named Nicodemus, Kansas. Another city that was instituted by African Americans. There were some amazing paralells between this city and New Philadelphia, the city discussed in last week's lecture. My library mom was at the lecture. She makes me feel like I can do anything and encourages me. While at the lecture, met a interesting young man. I haven't really interacted with anyone that looks like me since I've been here. So, the conversation was engaging. It was nice. Josh and I left the lecture and decided it would be a nice night for ice cream. So, we went to Cold Stone Creamery. It was packed like it was a club. We got some ice cream and talked about our projects and life after this internship. Went home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.

Thursday - After a few wardrobe changes, settled on a full silk dress skirt with a dress shirt and belt. This was press conference day. I was prepared to do or say anything if necessary. Went into work and started writing on my manuscript. I realize that I may be an electronics junkie. On my desk is my workstation, laptop, and my smartphone. Josh pretty much has the same set up. When people stop by our office, they are amazed that the two of us can amass that many electronic devices in one location. I left the office and headed towards the Lincoln home. I walk into the visitor center. I met a young woman who knew of my research work for Rudy Davenport. She said to me, "So you are the one who is the researcher!" That made me feel kinda famous. The same young man from last night was walking towards the home as well. We discussed how last night's lecture was interesting. So we take our seats before the lecture starts.
So I get to sit between him and Rudy Davenport. Pics are taken, but all people see are my skirt and shoes. I also got a pic with Abraham and Mary Lincoln. The press conference was short and sparsely attended. I expected more people, since the topic was Lincoln Bicentennial Activities. Oh well, at least I looked fabulous. Went to lunch with the interesting young man. More engaging and enjoyable conversation. Arrived back to my office, added a paragraph to the manuscript. Went home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Friday - Spent all day in the office, WRITING! rounding up sources and adding to this... thing. But I have to admit, the denim jeans with the white tunic top and loafers looked so well. even if I just spent all day, in an office, writing. I finally went home and settled, in and prepared myself for another weekend.

Saturday - Another day of staying in and watching television. Watched the Harlem Book Fair coverage on CSPAN with Samuel L Jackson from Dreamgirls. I know, just a nerd acting like an invalid. Enjoyed the company. Stepped out for a while and walked around the city. Settled in for the night.

Sunday - Another great worship service. The fine arts ministry is very innovative. They combined spoken word, mime, and dance. The praise and worship is always uplifting. As usual, I managed to match the Sunday colors at Abundant Faith. Dark rinse denim and shades of brown manage to compliment my skin. I came home, worked on my manuscript some more. I made dinner and conversation with the interesting young man. I stayed up burning the mindnight oil and finally finished my manuspcript. I fell asleep with my face stuck on my keyboard. I finally crawled into bed to prepare myself for the next week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Week 6

Illinois Reigional Archives Depository at the University of Illinois at Springfield

Stuffed chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans from Cafe Brio

Jane Pellum, an African American woman who worked for Abraham Lincoln

Ok, time is really starting to wind down. I have really been here for a month and a half! I'm adjusting to the pace of this city and not feel so much like a stranger. Enough analysis/observation/pondering. Here's this week's blog.

Monday - Why am I here again? Oh yeah, to do research. "They tried to make me go do research, I said, no, no, no." Sorry. Listening to Amy Winehouse. I find a song I like, put it on repeat and work through my day. Each day, different song, depending on my mood. Imeem has become my new online distraction. I'll think of a song, find it, and add it to my play list. Found some classic Mahalia Jackson, Otis Redding, and Dave Matthews Band. Sixteen Tons (BB King version) is at the top of the list. Oh, and updating my NPR podcasts. I know, a nerd. I am a member of the tweed club. But I make it look fashionable with the right accessories. Ok, enough about that. I finally decided to get another multipurpose phone. It's not exactly like my previous one, but it works just the same. I can still work on office documents, send mass texts, etc. It looks like a blackberry only designed for Microsoft. So I call it my fake crackberry. The thing can be addictive. Not to mention, I am able to use my bluetooth again, I am quite thrilled. I'll stop salivating and mention it no more. Left the office. Josh and I decided to go to a minor league baseball game. I figured, why not? Something new to add to the Springfield adventures. Not to mention, the first 500 people got cash ranging from $1 to $20. Tickets were only $5, so it seemed like it would be a decent return. I got $1. What in the world was I supposed to do with $1? I think that only 15 envelopes had amounts of more than $1. Just a theory. So, we go to the game and it is BORING! I haven't been to a baseball game since I was in the 7th grade. That was to sit behind home plate and behold the backside of "Pudge" Rodriguez. Enough about that. Back to this game. The $6 tickets were in the "good" section. We sat on the 3rd row in between 3rd and home and it included waitstaff service. The girl was precious and all, but I ended up making my own trip to the concession stand instead of waiting on her to take my order. I had my new phone. I emailed myself my power point presentation and manuscript for my research. I was working on that, browsing the web, and testing the camera on my phone. I occasionally watched the game. I was truly that bored. Josh on the other hand was enjoying the game and brought his professional camera to capture the moments. We left in the middle of the 7th inning. I came home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Tuesday - Another fun filled day of research at the Lincoln Presidential Library. Actually touching documents written by people over 170 years ago was beyond words. I was able to touch documents that put African American men and women into an indentured servant contract that outlined what they would learn, their restrictions, and what was promised at the time of manumission. As usual, I was brought to tears and realized that because they did, I can. I am able to have opportunities that my foreparents didn't have. I had to fix my face because I refused to have the archive staff beat me for damaging historical documents and ban me from the Lincoln Presidential Library for life. They commended me for taking breaks and leaving at a reasonable hour. I walked back to my office, made some editions to my notes and manuscript in preparation for my meeting with the state historian. I came home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - Today was cemetery day. Took the G Ride out. Josh tagged along, with his professional camera, of course. I was armed with his smaller digital camera. We made it out to the first cemetery. It was a small catholic cemetery. i chatted with the secretary. She was so helpful. The purpose of cemetery day was to find the graves of some of the women included in my research, to make them personable. I've located marriage records, announcements in local papers and obituaries. Everyone can identify with items like that. These things help tell the story, which is my job. Anyhow, we take pictures. I think my pics are fine, but Josh has to bring tripods and extra memory cards and lenses. It don't take all that! Just take the picture and leave it at that. We head back to the cemetery office to thank the lady for her help. He's in there going through records, asking questions that are not relevant to our purpose for the day. I just wanted to push him down! But that would mean I'd have to explain to people at the park why his face is looking funny and I know no one can send bail money, let alone come to Springfield to come and get me. We go out to the big cemetery, where Lincoln is buried. After getting copies of burial records and a map with a planned route, we set out to find the two other women I am looking for. I give Josh the map so he can help. he gets us lost. We finally make it to one of the grave sites. It is quite steep. I have on an olive shirt, khaki gauchos, and white loafers. The hills at this cemetery are steep! I'm afraid to drop anything because I know that would be a hillside tumble waiting to happen. I finally get over that and take the pictures I need. Josh takes pictures also. We get back in the G ride and drive to the colored section of the cemetery. I find the grave of William Donnegan, the first casualty of the Springfield Race Riots of 1908. I also found graves of other important blacks in Springfield. It was interesting because the Jewish were buried in the same area. I finally found the grave I was looking for. I took some photos. As I was leaving, the maintenance staff was passing by. They asked me if I needed any help. I told them no. They asked why I was out there. I told them why and that one of Lincoln's hired servants was buried there. They said that they didn't know that tidbit of information. It felt good to give knowledge. We left the cemetery and went to UIS. I was able to locate another marriage certificate. As we were leaving UIS, the gas light came on. I called the admin office back at the Lincoln home. I filled up the gas tank and returned back to the office. I came home for a few minutes before Josh and I went to a lecture regarding a city called New Philadelphia, which was founded and established by Frank McWhorter, an African American. The lecture was at the holding of the state archives. After going through a maze of long hallways filled with boxes full of artifacts, finally made it to the location of the lecture. I learned about the archaeological process that takes place before a dig starts. It was enlightening. I chatted with the interns. They advised me of some interesting things that they discovered. Josh and I finally left. I came home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Thursday - I spend my morning trying to reduce my anxiety. I had a meeting with the state historian. Everyone told me that I had nothing to worry about. I finally left the office and walked towards the state capital. With my phone, I listened to NPR on my walk. It was nice. I missed that about my phone's absence. I finally made it to the state archives for my meeting with Dr. Wayne Temple. After another security check, I was finally allowed to get on the elevator and go to his office. I finally get there. He says that he has been waiting to meet me. People talk around here. So, I get settled and he asks me general info such as where I'm from, school, etc. After the small talk, I hand him my manuscript. I also hand him my notes. He studies it for a moment and says that there were some names that I left off. He proceeds to advise me about the research he has done. he gives me an autographed copy of the article he has done for the Abraham Lincoln Association. He is a joy to chat with. We discuss the grandeur of Lincoln. He tells me that he has been researching Lincoln since 1949. Every Lincoln book that has come out since then has been seen, reviewed, or edited by him. So, I feel a little small at this point. He tells me of the small things about Lincoln. He tells me stories of Lincoln's interaction with African Americans. I nod and smile politely. We talk about the Emancipation Proclamation and the varying views on it. After 2 or 3 hours of chatting, we discuss his life. I learned that he is a 4 star general. He knew Eisenhower. He gives me advice about graduate school. He said to go to the graduate school where you feel comfortable and where you will do well. After he offered me candy, I head back to my office to review what he said about my manuscript. I head home for a few minutes. There was a lecture about Mary Lincoln by another Lincoln historian. Josh and I walk to to the Presidential Museum. The lecture was ok. The question and answer period is where I finally decided to speak up. I asked her to elaborate on the relationship that Mary Lincoln had with her hired help and why there is strife with only the Irish. I also asked what were her thoughts on why the African American hired help were trusted more by her. She paused and said I asked a good question. (of course, I asked a great question or I would have kept my mouth shut, duh!) She rambled about how Mary Lincoln was Scottish and Irish. She gave me a suggestion of a book to read, which was pointless because it covered Lincoln's hired help in the white house, not in Springfield, where I'm doing research. Anyhow, she said that she would love to see more insight into the hired help relationship in Springfield. Basically, she didn't answer my question. My other mom told me after the lecture that I did a good job and sounded scholarly. That made me feel wonderful. There are days when it seems like I'm not a historian. I don't look or act like other history majors that I see around here. But I'm told that I always have a passion for it and it shows. I guess that is my advantage. I just hope it remains for the rest of my academic career. Josh and I go to dinner at a restaurant called Cafe Brio. The herb crusted stuffed chicken breast was great, along with the mashed potatoes and green beans. We talked over dinner about our projects for the Lincoln home. We finally left. I came home, settled in, and prepared myself for the next day.

Friday - This morning was a staff meeting with everyone in the park. I was told earlier in the week that I needed to create a 5 minute presentation to talk about my research. I sent the power point presentation to a couple of friends to review. They weighed in with their commentary. Dressed in a nice dress shirt and slacks, I left home to come to the office to get my work machine to do my presentation. As I'm walking up the steps to the meeting, I lose my footing and fall on my face. Purse goes in one direction, and the work laptop in another direction. Who is behind me but the Superintendent of the park. I felt so embarrassed. He asked if I was ok. I told him that is why there are safety signs in the park and why the safety message is played at the beginning of the film at the visitor center. After recovering, I finally make it into the meeting. This meeting was longer than normal. I finally get up to give my presentation. I give basic facts and 3 women that worked in the Lincoln home and a few brief facts about them. The information was well received. I felt partially accomplished. After the presentation, people kept telling me that I did a great job on my presentation. I heard that some of the information was being used in the ranger led tours immediately. It is nice to know that your work will be used to tell the story of Lincoln. That information sticks. The information makes the story real. Whether it is a family that may have recently immigrated to the US, a young girl, or anyone else. They can identify with the women in my research. It rained that afternoon. It seems like a constant. Almost every Friday since I've been here, it has rained. It cleared up. The park was preparing for a movie night. Nikia, Myles, and I grabbed a bite before the movie. We arrived at the park. The crew was waiting for the final weather report to determine if the movie would be cancelled. At 7:45, the movie was cancelled. I stood around and talked with the park rangers who were scheduled to work. I took an after hours tour of the Lincoln home. It was a decent evening. I came home, settled in, and prepared to enjoy my weekend.

Saturday - Made myself some breakfast and enjoyed a morning in bed. I know I will miss Saturday morning solace once I return back home. Josh called and asked if I felt like walking around town. We went to a bookstore called Prairie Archives. It is basically like a Half Price books except it was larger and an independent store. NPR was blaring over the loudspeaker. I was quite the happy camper. I found a few too many books that I like, nothing unusual. I left with my purchases and walked to a store called Shoetopia. The decor was nice. I think I could have stayed in there all day. But downtown stores close around 3 PM on Saturday afternoons. I honestly think the sidewalks roll up at dusk every day. The sky was looking a bit cloudy. So I managed to make it back home before it started pouring. I spent the evening indoors. Cooked dinner, settled in and enjoyed the rest of the night.

Sunday - Ah yes, worship at Abundant Faith. This week, I went into service alone. I felt like I was just a regular member. It was nice. The fine arts ministry did a great job. The performance was spoken word and dance. The entire ensemble was related to each other. They were so synchronized. The message was about freedom in worship and freedom to walk in the gifts given. It was absolutely wonderful. The word, given by the pastor's wife was equally excellent. For a brief moment, I felt like I was a resident in Springfield, going to church like I normally would. I came home and started watching a history documentary. I dozed off when Josh called to remind me of the dinner and golf outing. So, I packed up a book I bought yesterday and went. We had dinner at Cici's and went to miniature golf. I try not to be antisocial. The rangers talk about park business and I just sit there and answer questions about my project. I watched everyone play mini golf. I really need to start doing more things and being a little more sociable. That is on my to do list for Houston. We finally left a couple of hours later. I came home, settled in, and prepared myself for the week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Week 5

I'm now at the halfway point. Divided in my feelings. I miss home. I know that once I leave Springfield, I will miss it. Ok, here's the blog for the week.

Monday- Doing the thing I'm here for. Research. Mondays seem to be my strategizing (yes, I know it is not a real word)days. I review what I've done the previous week, make updates, and try to plan my week of research activities. Prepare my questions for an interview tomorrow. Took my housemate to dinner at Bennigan's since he has never been. We talked about our lives before Springfield. Went home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.

Tuesday - Spent the morning (fill in the blank). Also, avoiding a hives outbreak from my pending afternoon interview. My interview was with Richard Hart, an attorney who researches African Americans in Springfield. His research has helped me greatly in my project. I wanted to look like a competent researcher. My other mom armed me with his research compilations the week prior. Not to mention, a black tweed ensemble (lightweight fabric, of course) helped my case. We chatted about my project. He was impressed with my findings. He provided me with more options for research. He's looking forward to the finished project. I left the interview feeling renewed. Ended my afternoon at the Lincoln Public library. Josh (housemate) and I went to the mall. I was not amazed. I went to the t-mobile so I can lament over the loss of my multipurpose phone and plot on how to get a new one. Stocked up on bath and body works essentials. I already see that I will need a box so I can ship my Springfield goodies, gifts, trinkets, and treasures back home. I just might ship some of my luggage. I'm not trying to give anybody's airline extra money that I don't have. Went into Lane Bryant. Realized that per Lane Bryant's new sizing system, I'm curvy. As if I didn't know that before, but affirmation is always beautiful. the saleslady thought Josh and I were a couple. She was so precious. She asked me if I wanted to model jeans for him. I said no but my mind was thinking, "satan's hometown, NO!" Just because we do things together does not mean that we are a dating couple. Enough ranting about that subject. Came home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.

Wednesday - Watched the final version of the new Lincoln Home Visitor Center film. I think the film introduces the visitor to the site. Not the typical Lincoln grandiose majestic mythical ideal. It introduces the man that lived in Springfield, IL. So, I enjoyed it and it makes Lincoln personal. An Alaskan Children's Choir from Anchorage gave a concert. It was ok. Since I've been here, my sweet tooth has been taken care of. I always manage to get the hook up on baked brownies, cookies, and candy. Springfield is spoiling me. After recovering from a frosted brownie sugar shock coma, I went to the public library and spent quality time with the Sangamon Valley Collection staff. That is my quiet concentration space. I bring my research materials from other parts of the library up there. A library nerd, I know. I came back to my office to shut down and go home. In my mailbox was the photo from the Springfield Race Riots exhibit that I wanted. I was so excited. The photo was taken the day after the black area of town was burned down. People in the photo were looking so lost. It's my inspiration. If historians don't "tell the story" ,we'd have no foundation to build upon. Came home home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.

Thursday - Did a side project a few weeks ago about the Emancipation Proclamation Centennial Project in Illinois. I had a meeting with Rudy Davenport, the man who requested the research. He told me thanks for helping with the project. We talked about the importance of history preservation. He gave the details of the project and the goals he wanted to accomplish by the Lincoln Bicentennial. I realized at that point, I need business cards. If I'm going to do this seriously, I need to have contact information ready and available to distribute. A learning experience, this Springfield thing is. After the conversation, did some more research. Nothing surprising. Left the office a little early by 30 minutes to get a head start on the holiday weekend. walked to the corner store. Accepted the inflation that comes with "convenience stores. Walked into the barbershop and chatted with the fellas. They let me know where the "grown folks" spots were. I was enlightened. Came home, settled in, and prepared to do absolutely nothing for 3 days.

Friday - A "what not to wear marathon", snacks, and a salad. I was perfectly happy. Josh and I made a grocery store run. We came home, watched a little tv and walked down to the state capital to watch the fireworks. It was cute. A 20 minute, frugal, fireworks show. afterwards, we walked home. Came home, settled in, and went to bed.

Saturday - Went (walked) to diner named Sonrise Donuts. Family owned establishment. The food was good. Enjoying the unique establishment in Springfield. I will have to find hidden gems like that in Houston. Josh and I decided that would be a Saturday morning thing until I leave. I caught up on my laundry. Took an afternoon nap. Josh and I drove aimlessly through a couple of counties in Illinois. Never again. I'm tired of looking at corn stalks! After finally getting back on a highway 2 hours later, we made a walmart run. Got frozen custard from Culver's (another form of frozen creamy crack). Josh and I fell asleep while watching a movie. Came home, got in my own bed, and called it a night.

Sunday - Another great worship service at Abundant Faith. I decided to wear green. That didn't match the FOH or AF crews. I was still reveling in my "independence" day weekend through fashion. I came home, cooked dinner, enjoyed an afternoon nap. A great way to spend a Sunday. Watched a little television and prepared for the week.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Sorry, been busy with research. Here are a few photos I have captured during my time here. Enjoy!

Row 1(from left to right):

Beedle House - My office. My window is the right corner one. Nice view.

ID Tag - Just so people know that I work for the goverment.

State Capital - It is right outside my office. The church on the left is the Lutheran Church.

Row 2 (from left to right):

Lincoln Home Sign - The sign that directs people to the home.

Lincoln Home - The place that my research centers around.

Row 3

Lincoln Bus - The bus that only tours Abraham Lincoln historical sites.

Week 4

I have completed 4 weeks here. It seems like only a few days ago, I was packing and heading home to Rowlett for a few days before I got on a plane or two to get to Springfield, Illinois. If anybody asks you where I am, please tell them Springfield or the state capital of Illinois. People keep asking me, "How is Chicago?" I haven't visited the city yet. That is on my to do list before I leave here. Ok, here is the recap for this week.

Monday - Research. (big surprise) Reviewing marriage licenses, death certificates, cemetery records, and newspapers for notifications of these events can be a eye strain. I'm already near sighted and blind. I may need an eye exam when I get back home. I went out with some of the park rangers to dinner and bowling. The mexican restaurant was authentic. I should have did a soup or something. Rich mexican food and recovering from a 2 week meatless fast don't mix. Enough said. My PSA (public service announcement) for the day. It gave me a chance to see these folks outside of their ranger uniforms and as regular folks. After dinner, we went bowling. I now know that bowling is not a sport of mine. Not really an athlete. my bowling score after 1 game was 46. Maybe I just need practice. Enjoyed myself. Went home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.

Tuesday - I spent a portion of my day in the Illinois State Archives to obtain copies of death certificates. Everything is within walking distance here. I was walking and saw a marker that commemorated the Springfield Race Riots of 1908. The marker was across the street from the elementary school where the first African American victim was hung. As usual, I was moved to tears. After going through security scans, id checks, and metal detectors, I was finally allowed to go into the archives. I could only go in with my phone, paper, and a pencil. I guess it was a good thing I didn't bring anything suspicious with me. The state's records have to be secure, I guess. One day, I'll make a field trip to view the state archives of Texas. After reviewing more than 30 reels of microfilm, my eyes felt like they were bleeding. The staff admired my diligence towards work. They asked if I were ok and if I needed anything like water or a break. I think I may have surprised them. I got some help from women who were pros at reviewing microfilm. I got the question, " are you here to research the Springfield race riots?" I am wearing a National Park Services badge. I've had to keep myself from answering questions like that since my first day here. I'm tempted to make a t-shirt that says, "I'm not here to study my history, but yours" but, I don't want to offend the nice people of Springfield. I finally left the archives, spent a couple of hours at my desk. My housemate and I went to the Oak Ridge Cemetery where Abraham Lincoln, his wife, and 3 sons are buried. They have a flag lowering ceremony every Tuesday night in the summer. This particular night I was wearing a turquoise and white ensemble. The hills around the site are steep. There's the tomb, the receiving vault and the temporary location where the bodies were held until the permanent site was completed. To add to that, a bunch of mosquitoes. I understand my skin looks, feels, and possibly tastes like brown sugar, but there was no need for them to congregate and feast upon me. We got there an hour before the ceremony. My housemate likes to explore. So he was taking as many pictures as he possibly could. The ceremony finally started. A portion of the 114th regiment came out in civil war era uniform. It was really interesting to watch. It was raining on and off while we were there. They actually do a gun salute and "fake" cannon firing. Standing at the front of the audience was not a good idea. In addition to my eyes hurting from looking at all the microfilm, my ears were a little sore. Not to mention, the mosquito bites I discovered when I returned home. We went to dinner. I came home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - It rained again. This time, with thunder and lightning and everything. Springfield was no longer dry. I spent the day in my office compiling my research and staring outside. I went home to settle in. My housemate and I watched BET. It was an interesting experience. My housemate is precious. His job is to redesign the kid's activity book for the park. I was asked to give my insight on how to reach the "under served population." An interesting term. The director asked me to sit in on a meeting. "Since this is your culture we are talking about." I really wanted to push her down a flight of stairs. I have to keep telling myself that the images on TV is what people are familiar with. I have to be a change agent. I hope my time here reflects that. After 4 episodes of "House of Payne", my housemate retired upstairs. I settled in prepared for the next day.

Thursday - I decided to spend a part of my day at the Presidential Library. Also, to see if my other mom had any information that may help my research. I spent the morning reviewing census records and county history. I learned some interesting information. She returned from her meeting. She asked if I went to any Juneteenth activities. I told her no. She was talking of how the youth just see it as another celebration and don't grasp the meaning. The day is to serve as a celebration of the emancipation of slavery. So, I got on a soapbox for a few minutes about that with her. I told her about the "african american history research" suggestion. She said that she was not surprised. She encouraged me to continue doing the work. She told me I was bright and brilliant. She advised me that there are days when you will be the only one amongst the professionals. Also, she told me that I must know that I have to be the gatekeeper of my history. So, I felt better after leaving her office. I went back to my office, started working on my manuscript and power point presentation with a renewed determination. I went home, settled in, and prepared for the next day.

Friday - I arrived to the end of my work week. My wardrobe was a little more relaxed. Jeans and a tshirt. It was raining when I left my house headed for work. The rain was heavy and steady for a couple of hours. I left my office to go to the Visitors center to get some air and buy a couple of postcards to send home. I encounter this elderly gentleman. He was waiting on his group to return from their tour of the Lincoln home. We talked for about 30 minutes. I think I have a "great listener" sticker on my forehead on occasion. He told me about how things were in Alabama and Chicago over 50 years ago. I regret that I didn't have any paper or a tape recorder to capture it. I really miss my multipurpose phone. If I had it, I would have been able to do so. Oh well, perhaps another time. The group arrived back to the bus. I decided I would ask some general questions. I introduced myself and told them what my job was for the summer at the site. I asked if they learned anything. They said that they learned some things about Lincoln. I asked if there were any questions. A young lady asked me if any African Americans lived in Lincoln's home. They advised me that their park ranger/tour guide said there were. I had to advise them that was false. I happened to have some of my research material in my bag. They thanked me for giving them some good information. Their bus driver advised me that I was "garage kept." A friend of mine advised me that was a southern way of saying that I still looked young and single. That made me day. I was invited to visit the group in Chicago. After that, I went out to the University of Illinois at Springfield. This time, I knew my way and did not get lost. I took photos of original marriage certificates. That was a great experience. To know that these documents are still preserved and available for viewing. I returned back to my office, uploaded photos and updated my notes. My housemate and I rented videos for our movie night. Settled in to enjoy my weekend.

Saturday - I did absolutely nothing. A day of HGTV and "what not to wear" marathon. I was a happy camper. Finished watching movies with my housemate.

Sunday - Another great worship experience. I find it coincidental that the color scheme here at Abundant Faith is the same as my home, FOH. I have to admit, I looked quite fabulous in denim, khaki, and brown. The colors seem to compliment my skin. Okay, I think I have done enough ego boosting for the moment. Praise and worship was a comfort to me. I felt like I fit in. I was asked by members why I haven't joined the praise team. One, I'm not a member. Two, I don't think P Sheezy or the FOH family would be too thrilled about that. Three, I'm only here for a few more weeks. The word that I received from the speaker were encouraging. I have to recognize, realize, reaffirm, and review when it comes to hearing GOD's voice. So, that ended another week in the Land of Lincoln. I only have a few more to go before I return back home.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Week 3

Still working on the photos. My multipurpose phone died. So, I am working on getting a camera so I can post pics. Also, to the professionals, english teachers, etc. , I am inserting an apology now. I may write the blog in slang until I can add video. Besides, most of you know my vocal/verbal inflections/tendencies. Now, on with the blog entry.

Monday - Another fun filled day of research. Phone calls, emails, and faxes, oh my!

Tuesday - Research. Bonding outing # 3 with my housemate. Laundry day. The stares that we receive are interesting. We are completely mismatched. Me, full figured, fabulous and caramel complexioned. Him, well, the opposite of me. Red haired, freckle faced, and from NY. I realize that debit cards are not always the best option to have. Got cash from an ATM at a no name warehouse liquor store. Broke the $20 with a purchase of bottled water. I understand beverages such as water and soda are not the primary ones made, but $1.75 for a 20 oz. bottle of water?!?! I was a little hurt. Then, this woman cut in front of me in line. How dare she! I guess she was having a serious need for a 40 oz of malt liquor. Interesting. Did my laundry. Returned home and settled in to prepare for the next day.

Wednesday - Lunch at the Governor's Mansion. I looked diva and fabulous. Walking 10 blocks in heels was not cute. It was a good thing that I packed a pair of ballet flats in my bag. There was a group of elderly people (seasoned saints as some may call them). They came to the Lincoln home. Did the tour with a park ranger. I gave a brief talk about my research. I was told that I have a Texas twang. Also, I was told that I remind them of Barbara Jordan when I speak. I understand, I attend her alma mater. But to sound like her? I don't have the authoritative voice that she has. Maybe I speak better than what some may hear other people that look like me sound. Just a theory. I came back to my alcove, did a little more research. Went home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Thursday - I sent out "Happy Juneteenth" text messages. I had expectations about how people in Illinois would celebrate. I'm comfortable with the typical celebration in Texas. A good barbeque with family and friends. I went to the presidential library to wish the director of research (who is like a surrogate mom to me. No offense, Lora Ann) a Happy Juneteenth. I sat in her office and updated her on my research. She said that she may have more information for me. She also told me about the weekend activities that will take place to celebrate. I did a little research. Walked home, settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Friday - I took my first field trip of sorts. I took the G Ride (government car. a nice G6 disguised as a Chevy Uplander) to the University of Illinois at Springfield. After printing out maps and directions, packing up the purse and laptop, finally got on my way. I got lost. All the streets and highways look the same. I ended up on a winding road with nothing but fields of wheat, corn, or something. (agriculture is not my major nor my ministry) I finally made it out of the back fields and arrived on the campus. The first street I found was Gwendolyn Brooks drive.(history fact: she was named the poet laureate of Illinois from 1968 - 2000) So I felt better. I finally made it to the library. The state archives were on the basement level of the building with 2 or 3 glass door entrances. I felt like I was in a secret agent movie or something. I finally make it to the secret area. The staff was helpful. They told me it was nice to see a researcher going through the archives. That felt nice to be identified as a professional. I came back to the office, went to the public library to review some old newspapers, and ended another work week. My housemate and I went to the video store and rented a couple of movies and had a movie night. He's such a sweetie. I came home and crashed until Saturday morning.

Saturday - I did absolutely nothing. Enjoyed a day of rest. Part 2 of the movie night and a grocery run to stock up on meat and sugary sweets since the FOH fast was over. I found out there were several options that are meatless. I got strength in my walk, which was great.

Sunday - Went back to Abundant Faith! I almost tripped and fell in the parking lot I was so glad to get back into the groove of Godliness I was used to. that would have been so tacky! Their color palette was denim, white, grey, and red. I was loving it! My ensemble for the day was denim and white. I came in during praise and worship. So, I was alright! I was a little concerned. This assignment is not as financially rewarding as my job at home. The experience is far more valuable. I had to tell my worrying self to sit down somewhere. Talked with my mom (my real one of course) and she encouraged me. She told me I still have to "do the work." So, I took a stroll around Springfield, came home, settled in, and prepared for the week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Week 2

I apologize for the late update. Well, here goes:

Monday - I spent the ENTIRE day at a workshop talking about nothing but Abraham Lincoln. It was informative. I realized that I really have a job to do as a historian. I received some great advice in regards to graduate school. Go to the school where you will get the most help. Don't go to a school just for the name. Find out everything you can from the faculty and student perspectives. I went home and prepared myself for the following day.

Tuesday - Research. Nothing exciting.

Wednesday - More research. Updated my list of names for my research.

Thursday - Even more research. Prepared for my visit to the Presidential Library Friday.

Friday - After carrying my TSU umbrella for almost 2 weeks, it finally rained. I was wondering if my plea with TSA at the security check in Dallas was really worth it. It could be worse, I could be in one of the flood areas of the state. I went to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. The exhibit, "Something So Horrible: The 1908 Springfield Race Riots" was being set up in the lobby. I was almost late to my appointment in the manuscript room looking at it. The photos tell such a great story. I was reading the panels. As I turned a corner, there was a Ku Klux Klan display. It almost scared the mess out of me. You can't just have an exhibit like that without warning. Technically, there was a warning for parents saying that there were some images and words that may be a little harsh for children, but hope that it will start a dialogue. There were cemetery burial records and pieces of the trees that some of these people were lynched from. So of course I'm in tears. I'm always at a history display crying. (as my Mom would tell me, "shut up all that dern hollin.")Spent my entire day looking at letters, pictures, and genealogy charts at the Presidential Library. I know, how exciting. I'm used to an office job where I sit for several hours and concentrate. I think I warranted concern from the staff. They kept asking if I were ok or if I was going to take a break. But, they are a great group of folks. I was in the room and this woman approached me. She asked if I were an employee or a researcher. I advised her I was a researcher. She asked me where I was from. I told her. She asked if I went to the University of Houston. Mind you, I have on a maroon shirt with TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY displayed on the front. I thought it was a rhetorical question. She asked me if I was going to the Fisk Jubilee Singers concert. I gave her a brief history of the ensemble. She look surprised as if the story may have been a fable. I dismissed it and I finally left. I came home in just enough time to get ready for a concert by the Fisk Jubilee Singers. My first thought was a documentary I watched in my African American Lit class at TSU. So I have to report to Dr. Betty Taylor-Thompson and tell her "thanks for the knowledge." The concert was great. I truly enjoyed myself. Not to mention, I looked quite fashionable with a dress shirt, jeans, white loafers, and some white and silver accessories. Afterwards, I stopped at a local pizzeria. I knew they were Italian. I just thought it was funny that they started speaking Italian once I arrived. It's like the nail salon experience. You know they are talking about you but you can't figure out what they are saying. Anyhow, got a cheese pizza and walked home. Settled in for the night.

Saturday - Enjoyed my morning in bed. I explored the city a little more. I can sleep better knowing that there is a beauty supply and a nail shop within walking distance. Just because I'm spending a majority of my time in the library doesn't mean I have to look disheveled. I met my housemate. He's a dear. Our first bonding experience was a grocery store run. This store didn't require a deposit for a shopping cart. I came home and settled in for the night.

Sunday - Called and left a message for my dad for Father's Day. Bonding event # 2. Decided to go to a Lutheran church. A comedian once said, "If you haven't seen 'em pray, you have to go at least one time." Well, I did and my quota has been fulfilled. I'm a believer of Christ, but have a diverse group of acquaintances. Maybe I should have read "Lutheran for Dummies" or something. Anyhow, dressed in girly pink and my luminous smile to match, walked in. I got a few stares. I'll be naive and say it was because I was wearing a bright color. It was truly interesting. I opted not to take communion because I was a little unsure and they all drank out of the same cup. That is not cute nor sanitary. The sermon was interesting. The topic was based on Jesus calling the 12 disciples (or disciplines, according to Madea). Ok, we are on the same page. I was taking notes and everything. The minister's "topic" was about being a part of Christ's entourage. She talked about how some famous people always have a group of people around them. She talked about famous entourages in history. She started with the Founding Fathers. I was following her. Then she began, "Martin Luther King and his entourage..." I didn't know if I wanted to slide under the pew or stand up and ask her, "what the...?" She finished it by saying that his entourage worked for civil rights and made change so we can enjoy the rights and privileges we have today. It took all I had not to act out. Afterwards, they made it a point to greet me. I told them I was here doing historical research at the Abraham Lincoln home. They immediately made it a point to find a 30 page book of their church history starting in 1840. I was saying to myself, " I'm not here to research you." I graciously took the information and immediately left. I went home to rest before I went to a re-enactment of the Lincoln - Douglass debate. The event was ok, nothing special. After that, I went to the Presidential Library for a lecture/discussion with a leading Abraham Lincoln historian. He covered a lot of points. One interesting point he made was that blacks dislike Lincoln and that the Emancipation Proclamation was not worth the paper it was written on. If you don't read the fine print, of course you have a disillusioned view. I have to look at that document as a historian without regard to my personal race or gender. I hope I can truly do that. Afterwards, I went to speak with the state Oral Historian to see if he can provide any insight into my project. I introduced myself. I told him that I was researching Irish, Portuguese, and African American female hired help of Lincoln while he lived in Springfield. I asked if perhaps there may have been any information recorded in the WPA projects perhaps from someone who was alive. I knew there were some who were alive when Lincoln was in Springfield who died in the late 1930s. He suggested the local university. Then he said something that disturbed me. He said, "there is the African American oral history collection. I think that you would feel more comfortable with that." The way he said it seemed like an insult. I was thinking, " I know I'm one of only two people who have melanin enhancement in the room. I know he did NOT just say that." So, I kindly thanked him and left. I went home and settled in with a determination to do this project with excellence.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

1st weekend in the Land of Lincoln

After a fun filled and eventful week, I finally got a couple of days off. I decided not to attend a bonnet making workshop. There was temptation to go. I refuse to have any of you talk about me when I return.

Saturday - Slept in until 12. Finally got dressed and walked about the city. Saw my housing alternative. It was a beautiful modern loft in the middle of downtown. My heart was truly hurt. Drowned my sorrows in some Cold Stone Creamery Ice cream. (sugary crack in a frozen form. horrible, I know.) Went to the SOHO blues festival. Nothing exciting to report. Finally, made it home before the street lights came on, literally. Settled in for the night.

Sunday - Rocked green and denim. I still have to coordinate with the Fellowship of Hope Crew even if I am away. Attended service at a church named Abundant Faith. I thought it was funny that this was the same church that I researched before I came here. Then, two members of the park staff attend this church. Call it inevitable fate, or something similar to an exigent circumstance. I just like the term. The memories associated with that one... I digress. Praise and worship was great. Maybe I'm biased because I miss the one I'm a part of. The message was one that can apply to anyone. "Enduring Faith" was the title. That can be a subtitle for my life here in the land of Lincoln. Some days, I have NO clue as to what is going to happen, what may be going on at home, but I have to possess a faith that surpasses my fears and insecurities. I'm tempted to pull a P Sheezy and say, " are y'all getting this?" but I won't. Went to lunch. It wasn't SALTGRASS, but steak was on the menu. I opted for poultry instead. I will have to put "hanging with the big boys and eating a steak at Saltgrass" on my to do list. Came home, watched a couple of history documentaries (history nerd, I know), settled in and prepared for the upcoming week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Week 1 in the Land of Lincoln

Sorry for the delay. But, here's the blog as promised.
Let me give a day by day synopsis. So here goes:

Sunday - Left home. Flight from Dallas was OK. Arrived in St. Louis. Did the whole stopover thing. My flight to Springfield was delayed. So, I FINALLY get on this plane that resembles a crop duster. Being full figured and fabulous provided a small technical difficulty. Hurrah for genetics and the waist to hip ratio I possess. Anyhow, I finally arrive in Springfield, Illinois close to 10 PM. This airport is a bit smaller than what I am used to. However, I press forward. After calling 4 other cab companies, I finally procure a cab to take me to my new home. No credit cards or debit cards are accepted. Driver asks if my luggage consists of books only. You know that my luggage was just a portion of my wardrobe. My feelings were hurt. So, we had to stop at an ATM to get cash. I finally arrive at my home. The proprietor of the home is very gracious. I finally get my keys and settle in for the night.

Monday - After a few wardrobe changes, I finally decide upon a decent ensemble for my first day of the internship. My home is less than 2 blocks away from the Abraham Lincoln home. Looking diva and fabulous, I finally arrive and meet my boss. He is an absolutely great guy. I take my personal tour of the house. It is far better than what I saw on the National Parks website. I finally saw the hired girl's room. This is my area of concentration. I stood there for a minute and realized that I have a job to do. I have to tell the story of the women who lived in this room and worked in this house. My history professor told me that as a historian, "it is your job to tell the story." So, that's what I plan to do. I hope that the story is as accurate as possible. I met so many people that make a national site work. If you ever go to one, thank them. They do so much to make the site operate so one can learn about a part of this great nation. Started going through papers and books by other people. I found a few names and some information. So, I think I'm off to a good start. I finally head for home. Once I arrive home, I make a grocery store run. I went to a local grocery store. I am used to shopping carts with brakes to make sure that the carts stay on the lot and corrals to keep them in a central location. Today, I was surprised that I had to pay a quarter just to use a shopping cart. That was the funniest thing to me. But, upon returning the cart, the quarter is refunded. So, I got a few essentials to stock my fridge and pantry. I settled in for the night and prepared for the next day.

Tuesday - I arrive at work and start my research. I am taken to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum. As a history major, I am overjoyed. I was like a kid in a candy store. I tried to view every exhibit, but was unable to due to time constrictions. The museum has something for everyone. Multimedia exhibits, dioramas, and a children's play area. The children's play area was adorable. There were costumes so the children could play dress up. The characters included Abraham Lincoln, Mary Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman. Too bad they didn't have any in my size. There were also puppet masks. In addition, there was a doll house that replicated the Lincoln home. Not to mention, Lincoln Logs galore! I spent a few minutes trying to build a log cabin but gave up. There was also a children's book area. I sat and read a book titled, "Henry's Freedom Box". The story was so impressive. It teaches the children about the Underground Railroad. I have to get this book for some of my little cousins or buy it and read it to them. Sorry, the history nerd in me just came out. There was one display that just made me cry. It was a slave family being separated. The father is taken in one direction, the mother in another direction, and the child is left standing atop a crate with slave shackles near his feet. There were statistics regarding the number of slaves sold. I just stood there and absorbed it all. I was speechless. I went through the other exhibits was truly enlightened. I returned back to my office at the Lincoln house with inspiration to do my job. I finally left and went home. I settled in and prepared myself for the next day.

Wednesday - I went to work as usual. I went to lunch with one of the rangers. We went to a restaurant called Cafe Brio. The food was good. I want to try to experience as much local cuisine and stray away from dependency on restaurant chains. I walked around the downtown area. I realized that there are an abundance of personalized license plates. That befuddled me for a moment. I quickly got over it. I think I might get one when I graduate that says hstrynrd. I wonder if Texas allows 7 characters. I'll look into that later. I finally went into a library. The public library has an abundance of information about the local history. I was able to look into the census records, marriage licenses, and newspaper articles. I made some progress towards my work. The staff is so courteous and knowledgeable. I know that I will be having slumber parties in the library so I can get my work done. I finally went home after a few hours in there. I have to say that I survived my first tornado. As I am at home watching TV, I hear the emergency sirens. I'm used to hearing them when they are being tested, not in actual use. So, there is an announcement that a tornado touched down on the other side of town and to take cover. So, I secure myself in a closet with pillows, blankets, purse, laptop, phone, and shoes. I can't let the shoes perish! After a few hours, the tornado dissipates. but, I think I got a splinter in my elbow. It was just pain, so I'm OK.

Thursday - I go to work and spend time in my alcove. I think I may have to reimburse the government for my use, or abuse, of post it notes. I try to organize my research and thoughts. Preparation for my Capstone seminar when I get back to TSU in the fall. The method to my madness will not be in vain. I went to my first staff meeting and met a majority of the staff associated with the site. The whole group is a great bunch of folks. I spend my time reading, notating, and highlighting. But I love it. I finally go home after a day of research work. I prepared dinner and go to my back door and there is a horse standing there. There is a carriage company nearby. I kind of feel at home, a little. I settled in and prepared for the next day.

Friday - I finally decided on what to wear that was cute and slightly casual. I ended up meeting the staff at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Another group of great folks. I think I may need to buy "thank you" notes in bulk. This library has an extensive holding of documents. I'll be dividing my library slumber party time between this library and the public library. Couldn't get a wireless connection in the library. My spirit was hurt. Went to a lecture on clothing from the 19th century. I learned a few things. I am grateful for my favorite clothing stores. I settled in and prepared for my weekend.