Name: Hope Jones
Class Year: 2020
Hometown: Salisbury, Md.
Internship Placement: The Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts
Job Title: Special Collections Intern
What’s happening at your internship?
I am working through the National Museum of American Jewish History’s internship program, with material from the Katz Center, but my desk is at the Kislak Center at Penn’s Van Pelt Library.
I am working with the Katz Center’s B.Z. Goldberg Collection. This collection has over 100 boxes and so far I have 20 of those boxes with me at the Kislak Center. B.Z. Goldberg was the son-in-law of Sholem Aleichem, a very famous Yiddish writer whose book Tevye the Milkman inspired the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Goldberg himself was an editor at the American Yiddish newspaper Der Tog for decades. He also authored multiple books, some of which are available in Canaday Library.
At this time, I am responsible for reading through the boxes available, whose material is almost all in Yiddish. I translate the documents so that I am able to understand the topic of the article or which book the draft belongs to. Once I have gone through a folder, I type up information about the documents, and relocate the materials into larger folders and acid-free boxes. On each folder I have to write what language the documents are in, the contents of the documents, and the time period of when the documents were published or written. This work is very helpful to those at the Katz Center, as not many people know Yiddish enough to translate the material properly. This will help the Katz Center to continue processing the collection, and hopefully in the future, make it available online to the public.
Why did you apply for this internship?
I applied to this internship as a result of a newfound love for the Yiddish language and because it is exactly what I want to do post-graduation from Bryn Mawr. Since high school, I knew I wanted to work in a museum, either in the archives or special collections. This internship will help me gain vital knowledge on how to process a collection, and the levels of archival processing. As I am planning to minor in Jewish Studies at Penn, this material is perfect for me as it contains much information about Jews in America and around the world during the Cold War.
What is most rewarding about your internship?
I think the most rewarding part is being able to immerse myself in a time where Yiddish was a prominent language. I am also gaining a lot of new Yiddish vocabulary and growing to appreciate the uniqueness of the language even more. I love to be able to handle drafts of B. . Goldberg’s books. There was a draft of the English version of Tevye the Milkman which I recently read, so it was a very exciting moment to find a typed draft of it in one of the folders.
I love that I am able to read the headlines in Yiddish for major events in history such as the Six Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Goldberg kept the newspapers for the day the war started and for the day the war ended. The newspapers also report on the presidential races and meetings with other foreign leaders, which I think is very interesting.