Intern Highlight: Jenna Lenko

Posted April 24, 2024 in General

Intern Highlight: Jenna Lenko

My name is Jenna Lenko, and I had the opportunity to be an intern at the Moravian Archives in the Spring 2024 semester. I am currently a junior at Moravian University, and I am studying history and will be certified in secondary education at the end of my time in college. For my degree, I was required to complete an 80-hour internship, and I was happy to learn that I would be at the Moravian Archives because I am also working on an honors project concerning the Moravian faith. My project topic is Moravian Race Relations during the St. Thomas Mission of 1732. Since I was now interning at the Archives, I had access to tons of information I could use as research materials and the knowledge that the Archives staff had.

During my time at the archives, I worked on cataloging letters from various locations across the country, which were received by the Provincial Elder’s Conference in Bethlehem, PA. These letters were predominantly from the 19th Century, and many of them were written in German, which was one of the issues I ran into while completing this internship. I do not speak or read in German, so as a result, I had to utilize the help of Tom McCullough and Kaitlin Trainor, who are much more familiar with reading German than I am. In addition to this, I also utilized various German script to English script images online to help me figure out some of the names or locations on the letters written in German. Another issue I ran into while completing this project was being unable to read some of the handwriting in these letters. The biggest resource I used when trying to translate this was reaching out to either Tom or Kaitlin for help. I also found that repetition was especially helpful. By reading multiple letters written by the same person, I was able to pick up on the way they wrote certain letters, and I used this information to decipher names, locations, or other important information within the letters.

I think that the work that I have completed this semester is something that will end up being extremely important for future researchers. I have worked to organize and catalog letters by year and the geographic location they were sent from, and this information will all be imported into the Archives’ online database. This will be helpful because when someone wants to come into the archives, they can come prepared with specific letters that they would like to read, and it will be significantly more accessible for the archivists to find these letters than before. The researchers will also benefit from not needing to search through boxes and boxes of unorganized letters.

Cataloging these letters has been a very challenging but also personally rewarding experience. Prior to this internship, I didn’t think I had any interest in the archival process or anything related to it. After completing this work, I realized that working in an archive is so much more than just reading old papers and organizing them: It is about preserving the rich history and culture of a group of people. I learned that the Moravian Archives keeps historical and modern records of all of the activities of the Moravian Church’s Northern Province. I also learned about the massive effort being undertaken to digitize many of these resources, which will allow people worldwide to learn more about the Moravian faith and its history.

To conclude, I just wanted to extend a sincere thank you to everyone at the Moravian Archives who have assisted me over the past semester, whether it was during my work at the archives or for my honors project. I want to especially thank Kaitlin Trainor for taking me in and having faith in me to complete this internship. I am so grateful for this experience, and I am looking forward to returning to the Archives to conduct more research for my honors thesis.