Sophie is an English and history double major with a creative writing minor from Austin, Texas. She will graduate in June.
After graduation, Sophie will stay in Appleton briefly, applying for graduate school and baking delicious treats at Seth’s Coffee in Little Chute. She also plans to hike the 500-mile Colorado Trail in the Rocky Mountains!
Sophie will pursue her graduate degree in Library and Information Science with a concentration in archives management. She’s been a student worker for several years in the Mudd, and we know that she’s going to make a fantastic librarian and/or archivist!
Read on to learn more about the research she’s been undertaking with the help of the library!
Sophie, tell us about your research.
I’m working on my senior capstone for history! I’m writing about the travel diary of Betty May Hale, an American 13-year-old girl who spent six months traveling in Europe with her family in 1937.
What library materials and resources have been the most useful to you in pursuing this research?
Honestly, my office has been a massive help!! Especially at a small, residential school like Lawrence, it’s sometimes hard to find a space entirely to yourself that’s just dedicated to academic work. My office is a place free from distractions where I can just go and work, which has been really useful to me. Also, last term I carried all the books for my research around with me in a tote bag, so it’s great to have somewhere for them to live in the library.
Other than that, the archives were a great resource, especially in the early stages of my project.
” There are so many resources available for you at the Mudd, you just have to take advantage of them! “~Sophie Penniman
What are you hoping to learn or gain from this research?
I’m studying how Betty May’s travel experiences affected how she thought about herself as an American. I’m also interested in how the travel agency the family used (a company called Thomas Cook) influenced the way they interacted with Europe and the European people.
Why do you think this research is important?
The mid-late 1930’s are a really interesting time for a lot of reasons—America was just climbing out of the Great Depression, World War II was right around the corner, and the United States was in the middle of this big cultural shift from relative isolationism/neutrality to globalism. There’s a lot written about this period on a national level, but there’s not as much about individual people, especially normal Americans like Betty May.
How did you become interested in this line of research?
I studied abroad in London my sophomore year and had an amazing time, so I wanted to do a project that dealt with study or travel abroad to Europe. Initially I was going to compare the experiences of a few different young women traveling before World War II, and I came across Betty May’s diary in a library database called American Women’s Letters and Diaries. There was so much more material in Betty May’s diary than in any of my other sources, and eventually I just narrowed my focus to her.
” Librarian Gretchen Revie has been really involved with helping my capstone class access research and citation materials.”~Sophie Penniman, discussing all of the ways the Mudd Library has supported her research
Sophie, thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your work! It’s been an honor and a joy to support you and we wish you all the best.