As someone that has been studying history for some time now, I find that working for the Jane Addams Papers Project as a student editorial assistant is a great opportunity. It allows me to both learn more about a time period of history that I was at first not really familiar with and use my history degree in a professional environment. I have always wanted to work for a history research project, and now I have the great pleasure to work for one.
At the project, I do initial research on Addams’s unpublished and published work and speeches. For the initial research, I look at the original microfilm scans of said documents and begin to enter them into our database. I ensure that the document is correctly entered by the date it was published or the speech was given, as well as make sure all the names of people and organizations are entered into the database, if not already there. The interesting part about this task at the project is that I get to research old newspaper articles to find out who these people and organizations that Addams mentions are. I really get the chance to use all the research training I learned while studying history. This part of my job gives me a chance to really understand and learn more about some of the important events and movements that Jane Addams was a part of. Doing the research on all these people and organizations from the past can be really interesting; the things that I get to learn about them is just fascinating. Sometimes they are kind of funny.
There is one instance when I was looking up information on one of the popes that Jane talks about in one of her speeches. At first I did not know it was a pope I was looking up; the only name I had to go with was “Pionono,” which was his nickname at the time. The interesting thing about this was that there is a popular pastry with the same name. For, what I think was ten minutes, I was searching around Google trying to find out who this person was, and every search the top result and the first couple of pages was this pastry! I was very confused by this; Jane couldn’t have been talking about a pastry in this speech! Confused by only finding pastries, I decided to click on one of the links about this and found out that it was named after Pope Pius IX. It was at that moment that I knew I found the right person; Jane was clearly talking about a pope in context to what she was referencing.
This is just one of the funny moments that happens when trying to find people that Addams talks and writes about. I wouldn’t have known who she was talking about, people at the time would have. I get to learn more things about a time period that I didn’t know about. Though I still don’t know why there is a pastry named after a pope.