Western Kentucky University

Tonya Taylor

Tonya Taylor

internship stories Tonya Taylor

Organization: University of Utah

The opportunity to work on Dr. Tom Carter's project of Scandinavian Material Culture in an Early Mormon Setting was too good to pass up as the chance to learn from one of the recognized leaders in material culture and vernacular architecture and to be paid to do it was amazing. The project involved not only research into the pieces of furniture and houses we were studying, but also in the makers and users of the objects. My work took me to different parts of Utah and put me in direct contact with the guardians of Mormon material culture, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and the LDS Church archives and museums.

I had the chance to work directly with Dr. Carter on site visits as well as to work on my own to access archives needed for background research required to bring the furniture and houses we were studying to life. I entered the Folk Studies program to move my work from the physical labor of restoration to the research and regulation of preservation knowing that, for me, the people in the history of an object were as exciting as the object itself. This internship gave me the chance to dive in, to get my feet wet and to sometimes get in over my head in the research of individuals attached to the past of a given object. My research into the Scandinavian population of 1860s Utah helped to discern population pattern connections with the styles of furniture represented.

Perhaps the most important thing to come from my time spent in the west during my internship is the connections I was able to make in the general field of folklore. In addition to the time I spent on Dr. Carter's project I held a part-time job at the State Historic Preservation Office and attended many of the cultural activities available in Salt Lake City. My involvement led to meetings with other people interested in folk culture and in the folk arts. Thanks to the internship requirement, when I leave WKU and head into the job market, I have a head-start on landing the perfect job for me.

 Last Modified 7/22/13