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Eighteenth and 19th century America from the viewpoint of foreign visitors is the subject of research by a student working for Skillman Library this summer.

As an EXCEL Scholar, Emelie George ’02 will be helping to prepare an autumn exhibit of first-edition and other rare books by authors who traveled here and wrote about it. The books were collected by Ronald Geesey ’61.

“I like working with old things,” says George, an English and French major. “You get to explore places where other people can’t go. It’s like a secret. But you can help filter it to the general public.”

George is working with Diane Windham Shaw, special collections librarian and college archivist.

Some of the traveler/authors in the exhibit have famous names: Alexis de Tocqueville, the Marquis de Lafayette, Frances Trollope, and Charles Dickens. Others are less well known but equally insightful, according to Shaw.

“From early times, America has been a destination that beckoned Europeans and an array of travelers visited this new land,” says Shaw. “Some sought out the scenic beauties of the physical landscape. Others were interested in America as a democracy, and still others were eager to comment on Americans as a people, on their manners and mores and on what constituted and explained the American national character.”

Shaw says George “has a very strong visual sense” and is also a good writer with invaluable web and design skills. “She has excellent ideas and abilities. She’s an excellent researcher as well,” the librarian adds.

George, who is doing secondary research on the authors as the library awaits the arrival of the collection, will help to select passages that reflect the authors’ insights. She will also find maps, portraits, and other images to be included in the exhibit.

In addition, George will be helping to organize and design the show and write the text for the printed program and other tasks.

“I want to be an archivist, so it’s helpful to work with rare books and the subject interests me,” she says. “Last semester I took a course in 18th century fiction and a lot of it was about travel.”

Of EXCEL, George says, “It’s really a great opportunity. It’s experience you can’t gain in the classroom and it’s good for getting jobs as an archivist.”

A graduate of Stroudsburg High School, George is vice president of public relations and risk management for Tri Delta sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News