A concrete rose

This past Tuesday, I was afforded the opportunity to accompany the Health and life skills coordinator at the Douglas unit. I was intimidated at first because I am used to working only at one location and working with “my kids” so I really didn’t know what to expect. The Douglas unit is in an extremely impoverished area on the north side. But from the moment I entered the building until the time I left, I felt nothing but love from everyone. We ran a SMART Girls program where we got a chance to talk about hygeine and the girls made lotion. The conversation was not only informative but also quite hilarious. Talking to girls ages 9-11 about their periods, body odors and the infamous “v-word” can be quite the task. The girls warmed up to me immediately and it was so amazing to spend time with them and be able to feel like I am apart of something larger than myself. I truly believe that the information that was given to them that day is something that will stick with them forever and ultimately help them when they least expect it. What I am realizing more and more through the experiences at the boys and girls club is that it doesnt  matter what the actual facility looks like, what the staff looks like or even the kids; what matters most is that effective programming is taking place that allows the next generation to grow. I can’t wait for next week!!

Introduction

Hello my name is Traci Burton. I am a offically a Senior here at Western Michigan University!!! *ques trumpets* My major is Film, Video and Media studies with a double minor in Non-profit leadership and Gender and Women’s studies. All three of those things seem slightly unrelated but each of them embody who I am and what I would like to contribute to this world. Ultimately I want to change the world. Through television and media, I plan to spread the love of God through inspirational content. I want to eventually own a non-profit and change the funding policies for urban school districts. These are all long term goals; as of right now I am working for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo as the summer arts academy drama instructor. This has been both a rewarding and trying summer as I learned so much about the politics of non-profits. I will detail these experiences on this blog and hopefully have a chance to look back and appreciate all I’ve gained.

Final Day

As far as an internship is concerned, my time at the Archives was a little bit different. I was more so researching topics to gain an understanding of how Gender and Women’s Studies can related to the field as well as using what I’ve learned and apply it to what I’ve been reading. I’m sure since this is the first time anyone has been an intern at the Archives that the future will hold more possibilities involving continuing in making a guide to certain documents that would be of interest to GWS students.

I enjoyed my time and would strongly recommend that anyone interested in researching and archiving to involve themselves in the Archives because it does require discipline and analysis of text, which could translate to doing work in college and beyond.

Awareness Week ’78

The Women’s League eventually changed its name into the Association for Women’s Students. They held an event called Awareness Week throughout that  focused on male and female relations on campus.

Warren Farrell, a prominent fixture in the women’s movement held a consciousness-raising weekend where the objective was to improve female/male and same sex communication. One activity that was available included diary writing, where participants could record their insights and fears relating to the observation of power relationships between men and women. I’ll post some pics below!

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Women’s League at Western

There were a ton of documents dedicated to the Women’s League (I’m talking boxes). I took a couple of weeks to look through it all and I feel as if I barely scratched the surface. The League originated in 1914, and the members were every woman on Western’s campus. The freshmen were given handbooks, possibly to ease the transition from home to school and make them feel welcome. There were a lot of rules, even a guide on what is appropriate to wear to certain campus events. It may be because of the time period that there were rules on how to dress, and that there were strict curfew rules.

It’s cool to see that this organization welcomed the freshmen ladies as soon as they stepped on campus. The smaller size of the college probably made the process easier. There are a few organizations on campus dedicated to groups of women coming together for fellowship, but it would be nice to possibly have a similar group on campus in the future offering some sort of initiation for women students from the GWS department.

Impressions

I recently read an article from a Kalamazoo newspaper published in the 1970s aimed toward women about how to prevent being raped. While some people may think we have progressed in feminist efforts to abolish rape culture, the article could have been in a magazine or newspaper published today. It ran along some of the same messages of “don’t go out late at night” “dress this way” “avoid drinking too much (or at all)”. These not so subtle messages that put blame on women were very blatant.

I wasn’t exactly surprised at the article, but more so by how I have come across similar comments from people in everyday conversation. It shows how this way of thinking has been passed down through the years.

How archival research relates to the present.

It’s my second official week with my internship at the WMU Archives and Regional History. It’s a bit deceiving at first, it just looks like a smaller version of Waldo Library. After taking a tour, the size was shocking. There is a back section with factory sized shelves full of boxes and file cabinets. I’ve been getting into the daily lives of women in Kalamazoo. On my first day I read a book with the minutes of the Ladies’ Library Association of Kalamazoo from the 1800s! It was all handwritten (in cursive), and it was awesome to see such an everyday item from so long ago.

Today I’m working with microfilm (I had a difficult time working the machine at first). I’m currently looking through some Kalamazoo newspapers from the 1960s-80s.