My Turing Scheme placement was at the University of Pennsylvania’s Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies in Philadelphia. Having never visited the east coast of America before it was certainly as much of an adventure as an academic opportunity. But first, let’s talk about the scholarly side.
'Welcome to University City'
The focus of my placement was working on the Name Authorities for the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts – these are definitive “name files” in the database that can then be linked to different manuscripts and hence improve provenance data. I specifically targeted women’s names in the database as they are currently underrepresented, and would then link them up to Wikidata entries (creating those entries myself if they weren’t already there), so that more information about these women would be widely accessible. I utilised the facilities on campus like the Kislak Centre, and local archives like The Rosenbach to bolster my research.
Whilst allowing me to make a small but noticeable contribution to an ongoing project, one that hopefully rectifies some of the database’s biases, my time at Penn also gave me the opportunity to consult resources that I had hitherto been inaccessible to me – plus, hanging out amongst original papers in the archives is always fun!
‘The City of Brotherly Love’
As well as the academic work, I made sure to make the most of my free time in the evenings and weekends to explore Philly. This included visiting landmarks like Love Park, the Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal Market and much more…