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Summer Internships: Spencer Auerbach '24

July 27, 2023
Spencer Auerbach at the beach

Name: Spencer Auerbach
Class Year: 2024
Major: Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies
Minor: Museum Studies
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

Internship Organization: The American Philosophical Society
Job Title: Curatorial Intern
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

What's happening at your internship? We would love to hear what kind of work you are doing!

Currently, I am compiling secondary sources for the 2025 exhibition on immigration. Previously, I was compiling primary sources for the 2024 natural history exhibit. That involved reading letters from the early nineteenth century, which was very exciting. One of my ongoing projects for the summer has been updating the locations of the museum objects in the collections database. I got to see every item in the collection, including some very weird pieces of Franklin memorabilia.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I interned last semester at BMC Special Collections. My project that semester was on a more abstract level. I was working on updating cataloging guidelines. That did not involve much interaction with objects or any work on planning an exhibit. When I learned about this internship, I knew I also wanted to explore the more day-to-day version of museum work. This internship let me do work on a different side than Special Collections.

Page from Audobon's Birds of America
Pages from Audobon's Birds of America, a key piece of the 2024 exhibit, in conservation.

What is most rewarding about your internship?

Working with collections objects! I have been able to handle correspondence that is two hundred years old. Reading two-hundred-year-old handwriting was a bit of a learning curve, but it also felt like a fascinating puzzle. Looking at correspondence specifically also gave me a glimpse into the personal lives of these people. Due to my work in the object collections, I have also handled a wide variety of objects such as compasses, a 500-year-old sundial, a model cheese press, and (allegedly) Ben Franklin's tooth. Handling these objects has been fascinating and an interesting glimpse into the past.

Pages from Audobon's Birds of America, a key piece of the 2024 exhibit, in conservation

Was this internship what you expected it to be?

I was not sure what exactly to expect with the research part of this internship. While it has been a lot of secondary sources, it also has involved a lot of primary source research. Some of it has been in the form of correspondence, but some of it involved reading books and journals from that time period. Getting to see all these different aspects of the early nineteenth century has been very interesting. I've read around 600 pages of expedition reports and three volumes of bird descriptions. While they may not be my personal interest, getting those glimpses into the mindset of these people has been really cool.

Visit the Summer Internship Stories page to read more about student internship experiences.

Greek, Latin, and Classical Studies Museum Studies