This summer I had the opportunity to intern for the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, NY. The Robert H. Jackson Center in a non-profit historical center dedicated Robert H. Jackson, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chief U.S. Prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
Last summer, the Jackson Center offered an exhibit on Charles Goodell. The exhibit, “A Model for Courage: The Life of Charles E. Goodell,” was put together by Cameron Hurst, a St. Bonaventure student intern. The exhibit was a success, and the Jackson Center wanted to take on another Bonaventure intern to work on a program and exhibit celebrating the life and career of Stan Lundine, former Mayor of Jamestown, U.S. Congressman, and NYS Lieutenant Governor.
I originally heard about the position from St. Bonaventure archivist, Dennis Frank. He recommended me to the Jackson Center and encouraged me to apply. I was a bit hesitant applying for the position for several reasons. The first was distance; I was nervous about making to commute to Jamestown from my hometown of Delevan. It was an hour and fifteen-minute drive and my car, Green Bean, was on her last legs. The second was my lack of self-assurance. I did not think I had the tools nor the skills to create an entire exhibit and a ten-minute video. Though I was confident in my ability to learn new skills, I was still nervous.
In the end, I decided to apply, and I vowed to give the project my all. I visited the center and met with several Jackson Center staff and board members. A few weeks later, I was offered the position.
I started working on the project at the end of the spring semester at Bonas. I was able to find a few resources to give me a brief biography of Stan Lundine. In all honesty, I did not know who Stan Lundine was nor did I understand how important he was to the city of Jamestown, the Southern Tier district, and the state of New York. I believe my lack of knowledge on Stan was beneficial. It allowed me to go into the internship with a fresh perspective and the ability to gather information through extensive research rather than previous knowledge.
The first step was to write a biography that I could use for the informational panels in the display portion of the exhibit and as a possible narrative for the documentary. For the first few weeks, I was busy finding articles, book, and newspaper clipping on Stan and watching hours of old video interviews. I reached out to the New York state archives, Fredonia University Archives, and the Fenton Historical Center for more information and materials. After I gathered as much information as I could, I wrote my own biography and began sorting out what items I could use in the display and video.
I also conducted my own video interviews with several people who had previously worked with or for Stan Lundine. This was rather nerve-racking. I had no experience interviewing people. I went to my supervisors at the Jackson Center and asked for advice on how to best conduct the interviews. The first few interviews did not go spectacularly, but by the end, I had learned what questions to ask, how to ask them, and the best way to get a person to open up. It was a great way to practice these skills and, since then, I am more confident in my ability to interview others.
Another challenge I faced was creating the panels for the exhibit. The Jackson Center archives had a Mac desktop and I own a Lenovo laptop. I needed a program that I could use on the Mac at home. That led me to Canva. It is a simple online graphic-design tool that worked on both devices. I taught myself to use Canva by watching tutorials and creating practice panels. The program worked wonderfully, and I made 10 canvas posters for the exhibit.
For the color scheme, I chose the color blue. Details, such as color, were crucial to making the exhibit aesthetically pleasing and I wanted a color that would reflect Stan’s personality and capture his history. During his first Mayoral campaign, Stan assembled a team of prominent individuals to run alongside him and called his team the Blue Ribbon Ticket. Stan is also a Democrat and a Duke University Alumni, so the color blue has been an integral part of his history. The official color of the exhibit is Duke blue because Duke was a special place to Stan and because it would be visually appealing against the cream-colored walls of the exhibit. It was a unique color that made the entire display pop.
After the panels, the next challenge was the video. This was another skill set that I did not have, but I knew that I could learn. I watched several tutorials on iMovie and eventually taught myself how to use the software. Instead of fitting the video interviews to my narrative, I arranged the video clips by a topic and set them in chronological order. I then made my narrative fit the clips to tell Stan’s story. From there, I found various images and video clips to use throughout the film. I had to do a lot of cutting, which was hard, and I eventually cut the video to ten minutes in length and added music.
The trickiest part of the video was choosing the music. I did not want the documentary to sound like an epic movie soundtrack, nor did I want it to sound like elevator music. I spent hours sifting through tracks, looking for a right inspiring tune for each chapter of Stan’s life.
When the video was finished, I was left with roughly five days to paint and spackle the walls, hang up the posters, and fill the space. During the information collection stage of the internship, I gathered a lot of original Stan Lundine campaign material. I found over 50 campaign buttons, 2 hats, 10 bumper stickers, and 1 matchbook with a single match remaining (plus various other materials). I used these items to fill the display cases and arranged the campaign buttons in the shape of New York State. I also had various plaques and several pictures in the collection. My personal favorite item was the Duke University pennant flag. I was setting up the exhibit up until the day before the Stan Lundine Tribute event making sure everything was perfect.
It was not until after the tribute, on my way home, that the full scope of how much I accomplished hit me. I had grown so much in the four months I worked for the Robert H. Jackson Center. I not only refined the skills I learned at Bonas, but I also learned new ones. I also learned to be more confident in myself and understand that I am capable of so much more. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work for the Jackson Center and thankful for the experience.