Tag Archives: Education

Interning at the Research Library

UMASS Amherst Emily Esten has just completed her internship in the Research Library. Below are her reflections on the experience:

The New Bedford Whaling Museum has always been a fascinating place inside – you’ve got the Lagoda, the forecastle, and the whale skeletons hanging over you. The exhibits detail answers to every question about whales and whaling that could ever be asked. But there is so much research and materials that the Museum can’t possibly display and discuss them all – for those stories, you have to visit the library.

I interned in the Research Library over the summer, looking for an experience that would allow me to further my interests in New Bedford whaling as well as teach me some new skills, like library management. I enjoyed my experience, and I certainly learned a lot in just a few months.

  • Organization: My tasks primarily focused on organizing Manuscript (Mss) collections. These collections can have all sorts of items – correspondence was common, but there could also be business records, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, pictures, or various mementos. Many of these collections had been accessioned by the Museum (purchased or donated) but not processed (organized with a complete finding aid). This is where I came in – to process the collections. First, I would take a thorough inventory of what was initially in the boxes, taking notes on the content I came across. Next, I’d review my notes and attempt to think of a series arrangement in which to sort the content – whether that was by type of content, time period, or individual associated with the materials. Once running my organizational ideas by Mark, I’d typically start arranging the materials and folders in chronological order. When all the folders were organized, I’d have to officially process them, writing descriptions on each folder. Finally, I’d write the finding aid, have it checked by Mark, and code it for the website. It wasn’t always easy to do, especially as the collections became larger and less organized. It required attention to detail, focus, and great organizational skills – all of which I was able to perfect.
  • New Bedford (Whaling): Working with unprocessed manuscripts was like a crash course in Old Dartmouth history, jumping from century to subject in a matter of pages. And unlike most history courses, which provide overviews of a topic or period, I was able to use primary sources of a particular individual or family to begin to understand what life might have been like. In regards to the whaling industry, the Mss collections covered more than just the experience at sea. I read about whalers writing home to their wives and children explaining day-to-day activities on board; I analyzed records of businessmen managing their vessels and crew; I saw the cards and drawings from children and wives detailing their lives as they waited for fathers and husbands to return. These primary sources served as guides to the stories of whaling I already knew. Through the Delano Family Papers (Mss 134), I saw the beginnings of whaling as various young businessmen traded ships amongst themselves. I saw a wife in the Eliza Russell Papers (Mss 136) writing to her husband on voyage in the North Pacific. I saw as the Matthew Howland family triumphed in the business and then failed disastrously in the Arctic disasters of the 1870s in Mss 135.
  • New Bedford (Outside of Whaling): I also got to view New Bedford as a city of its own – sometimes in its heyday, sometimes long after. Within the Akin Family Papers (Mss 140), I saw the success of industrial businesses, such as the Howland Mills or F.T. Akin & Company, come into power. And from a social perspective, I was able to some of the work of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society through the papers of Charles Gardner Akin, Jr., as well as the sales and exhibitions of Winfred W. Bennett and his Old Colonial Antiques Shop (Mss 138). I even read things entirely different from whaling, like Walter Teller’s research of Joshua Slocum (Mss 131) and Walter Rounsevell’s quest for gold in California (Mss 126). In general, though, I learned a lot about the people that made New Bedford and the surrounding community important.
  • The Library: Other than New Bedford history, I discovered what it takes to work in a library. It’s nowhere near as impersonal as people make it out be – with all the activity, every day was a different experience. While I’d often be in my own little corner working on the project of the week, I’d see all sorts of people looking at all sorts of materials and for all sorts of reasons. Unlike the way people portray or talk about libraries, it’s not this still or stationary place. A library is a haven and a home, ever-growing and shaped by the needs of the researchers. A librarian or an archivist has to be able to think about information differently – not necessarily on linear terms, but in a form that allows you to link ideas and people together. You have to know where to find things off the top of your head, and how to help people find exactly what they are looking for. It’s not an easy job, but it certainly seems like an interesting one.

I’d like to thank the New Bedford Whaling Museum for the opportunity to work in the Research Library, especially Mark Procknik as my supervisor, and Michael Dyer and Michael Lapides for support.

Building a Transformative Experience

Trustees select Mount Vernon Group Architects to design the new Educational Center and Research Library

The Board of Trustees enthusiastically selected Mount Vernon Group Architects to design the new Educational Center and Research Library on Johnny Cake Hill. Groundbreaking is slated for spring 2014. Preliminary sketches reveal the character of the Johnny Cake Hill, Water Street and Union Street facades. The building will connect to the existing Museum campus and be constructed in a site left vacant since the devastating gas explosion of 1977. The building will house new classrooms, a digital Reading Room, climate controlled spaces for collections, a laboratory for the flagship Apprenticeship Program and the Casa dos Botes. The 4th floor will encompass a multi-use assembly area with majestic views of the New Bedford Harbor. The $6 million construction project has 80% of funds committed.

View from Johnny Cake Hill

View from Water St

View from Union St.

Established in 1954, Mount Vernon Group is an award-winning designer of educational buildings. MVG’s local ties and proven record of designing customized educational spaces, as well as its understanding of the Museum’s educational goals, make it the ideal choice to design the space that will transform the Museum and prepare it for the next 100 years.

For more information on the Campaign to Build the Educational Center and Research Library, please contact Alison Smart, Senior Director of Development, at (508) 717-6815. View from Johnny Cake Hill View from Water Street View from Union Street

Welcoming New Teen Apprentices

The New Bedford Whaling Museum will introduce its new class of Teen Apprentices during a brief ceremony on Monday, October 18, at 4:30 pm, in the Jacobs Family Gallery. The public is cordially invited to attend.

These twelve juniors and seniors, who attend high school in New Bedford, were chosen from a pool of sixty applicants.  They will be working after school, Monday through Thursday through May and will return in the summer for a six hour work day. Mayor Scott W. Lang, Museum President James Russell, returning Apprentice Ryan Wotton, and Robert Rocha, who directs the apprentice program, will address the gathering.

Overseen by the Museum’s Education Department, the Teen Apprentice Program provides a unique opportunity for local youth to learn a variety of museum skills and expand their scholastic horizons. It is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement/Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations (ECHO), the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, the Howard Bayne Fund, the Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, the United Way of Greater New Bedford, the City of New Bedford Community Development Block Grant Program, and Bank of America.

For more information, contact: Robert Rocha, Science Programs Manager, Tel. (508) 717-6849. rrocha@whalingmuseum.org

The first crew of Apprentices, at their Museum commencement in May.

The Teen Apprentice Blog: Greenhands
Check out photos from the Youth Apprentice Program on the NBWM’s Flickr Page.

Volunteer Opportunities at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is currently recruiting volunteers. Are you retired and would like to become more involved in the New Bedford community? Perhaps you are a college graduate looking for experience in a museum setting. Or maybe you would like the opportunity to converse with people from around the world. Whatever your interests, the New Bedford Whaling Museum may be the right place for you!

Selected volunteers are invited to participate in a 10 week training course at the Museum, held Wednesday mornings throughout the fall beginning in early September. Prospective volunteers are asked to fill out an application available at http://www.whalingmuseum.org/volunteer/index.html (dates of course to be determined). Volunteers are not required to have previous knowledge about whales, the whaling industry or the history of New Bedford. During the course they will receive material covering all pertinent information.

Address all questions and comments to:

Brian Witkowski
Education Programs Assistant
18 Johnny Cake Hill
New Bedford, MA 02740
Tel (508) 997-0046 ext 185
Fax (508) 717-6883

Louisa M. of Rochester, docent for 2 years: “One of the most rewarding experiences I have had since retiring from teaching has been volunteering for the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Being new to the area, this opportunity has given me a wonderful perspective on the South Coast and the rich history of this part of the state. The volunteer work is not just rewarding but is also a learning experience. Each time I am in, I learn something new or interesting from the other docents/volunteers, staff, and the wonderful visitors to our museum. I have also made some great new friends. I would highly recommend volunteering for the museum.”

Call for Papers: Place-Based Learning Symposium: December 1-3

Call for Papers: Place-Based Learning Symposium: December 1-3

Place-Based Learning connects students to their immediate surroundings and heritage. This method, sometimes called “pedagogy of place” allows individuals to teach and learn through observation and doing, using personally relevant resources as the context for their academic growth.

Place-Based Learning brings forth several questions. How does Place-Based Learning compare to other models of teaching? Is it the best method to reach today’s youth? How do we evaluate its effectiveness? Can informal learning centers be leaders in the creation and promotion of effective Place-Based Learning programs?

In an effort to explore best practices by leading educational and cultural institutions nationwide, the New Bedford ECHO Project invites proposals for presentations and papers on Place-Based Learning to be delivered at a symposium held in New Bedford, MA on December 1-3, 2010.

The symposium will focus on four main themes:

  • Leveraging regional success stories on a national scale
  • Successful Place-Based Learning programs and partnerships
  • How standardization of the current educational system creates disparities in the educational attainment of native/underserved/minority students
  • Value and shortcomings of Place-Based Learning including assessment and evaluation

The New Bedford ECHO Project (NBEP), a combined effort from the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the New Bedford Ocean Explorium, works locally with the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and our ECHO partners in Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Mississippi to address the educational needs of our respective populations. Through its focus on history, culture, arts and environment the NBEP, allows students and educators alike to engage in a variety of content and context based teaching and learning opportunities. Examples include the Whaling Museum’s popular history, language arts and culture based school programs, the Ocean Explorium’s Enviro-Lab, which allows school and youth groups a chance to go out into Buzzard’s Bay for hands-on research and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park’s “From Hampton to New Bedford: A Network of Freedom” program which is a set of curriculum-based activities and materials that brings the story of the Underground Railroad to life.

Submissions should broadly fit into one or more of the above themes. Presentations should be submitted as an article for review and publication in symposium proceedings. All submissions should follow the style outlined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2001, 5th edition).

Submit proposals to: Sara Meirowitz c/o New Bedford ECHO Project at 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, MA 02740. Web: www.whalingmuseum.org. Proposals should be submitted in abstract form (less than 100 words) and are due by August 31, 2010. Honoraria and travel stipends may be available.

Sponsored by the New Bedford ECHO Project and the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

ECHO (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations) is a major, federally funded educational and cultural enrichment initiative, administered by U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement. Locally, the New Bedford ECHO Project is a unique collaboration between the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the New Bedford Ocean Explorium. Initiatives include cultural exchanges, collections sharing, internship and apprentice programs, and ocean learning activities.

“Why MOBY Matters”

This Friday, January 8th, Melville scholars Wyn Kelley of MIT, Mary K. Bercaw-Edwards of Mystic Seaport and the University of Connecticut, Jennifer Baker of New York University, Tim Marr of the University of North Carolina and Robert K. Wallace of Northern Kentucky University will be meeting with members of Melville biographer Laurie Robertson-Lorant’s  “Why MOBY Matters” seminar for a roundtable discussion of Moby-Dick.  Participants in the seminar, about half of whom are teachers in local schools, have been reading Melville’s epic novel and meeting on Monday evening’s  for the past nine weeks as a run-up to the annual Moby-Dick Marathon.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 4-5:30 at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park’s new education center, the Corson Maritime Learning Center.  The discussion will be followed by a dinner at 6:00 ($12; call ahead, 508-997-0046) and a free lecture by Melville Society President, T. Walter Herbert at 7:30, both at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  The Marathon–a continuous reading of Moby-Dick–will begin at noon on Saturday, January 9th, and finish up around noon on Sunday, January 10th.

SouthCoastToday.com, “Summer Teacher Institute puts educators in touch with maritime history”


Teachers walking through exhibit at the New Bedford Whaling Museum

original story from the Standard Times Newspaper
By BECKY W. EVANS, revans@s-t.com
August 25, 2009 2:00 AM

Students from New Bedford to Tulsa, Okla., to Seattle will get a taste of the sea this fall as their teachers return to school with lesson plans influenced by a summer study of New England maritime history and the art of Winslow Homer.

The oil paintings, watercolors and illustrations of the 19th-century American artist and New Bedford’s working waterfront served as focal points for a UMass Dartmouth summer teacher institute exploring maritime history of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Twenty-five school teachers, ranging in age, discipline and geography, participated in the four-week institute, which was funded by a $168,805 We the People grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The institute addressed a variety of themes from the age of Homer, including the transition from sail to steam technology, new immigrants crossing the Atlantic, and the changing perspective of seacoasts and waterfronts from dangerous work environments to recreational destinations.

Institute co-director Dr. Arlene Mollo, professor of art education at UMass Dartmouth, said the most rewarding part of the program was “the genuine enthusiasm of teachers for new learning.”

….The group made at least four trips to the New Bedford Whaling Museum and its research library, where teachers perused shipboard logbooks and journals from whaling voyages. During one visit, the museum’s education director Sara Meirowitz taught the group how to best integrate museum visits into their curriculum.

…read rest of story at South Coast Today