Cultural Exchange With Nevis Historical Society Studies Hamilton's Life
In January, three Hamilton students abandoned the frosty Upstate New York winter for the tropical climate of Nevis, the Caribbean birthplace of the College’s namesake Alexander Hamilton.
Kayley Boddy ’22, Skylar Havens ’20, and Samantha Wilkerson ’22 spent a week at the Nevis Historical and Conservation Society (NHCS) in St. Kitts and Nevis digitizing records pertaining to Hamilton’s life with the assistance of NHCS staff and Hamilton's Director and Curator of Special Collections and Archives Christian Goodwillie and Digital Imagery Specialist Marianita Peaslee.
The students’ work not only allowed them to learn more about document preservation and archiving, but it also gave them the chance to experience Nevis' vibrant culture. “It seemed like a very strong sense of community. I think that was probably my favorite part of the trip, just getting to see the cultural differences,” Wilkerson said. “It was also really interesting to see wild monkeys and goats and donkeys walking around everywhere just like squirrels do at Hamilton!”
Fast forward to this August when Jonathan Ward, one of the staff members at NHCS who assisted with January’s project, experienced a similar cross-cultural opportunity. Ward traveled to Clinton where he learned more about archiving and curation with Goodwillie and Hamilton’s extensive special collections archive as well as those at other area museums. “I’m here to gain some knowledge that might help my museum at home in Nevis,” Ward explained. “I’ve been learning about all the different career paths such as registrar, curator, preparator, and museum education.”
Goodwillie prepared a packed schedule for Ward, as he had a lot to show the Nevis native about curation and archiving. “We went to a number of different museums, and he’s met people from every range of careers within museum or library organizations,” Goodwillie said. “This is just to give him some exposure as he works and saves money in preparation to apply to college.”
Through visits to such sites as the Oneida Community Mansion House and Hamilton’s own Wellin Museum, Ward was able to make his first trip to the United States a productive one. “Once I get back to Nevis, I will pass along the information I’ve learned to my boss and coworkers,” Ward said. “It’s pretty fascinating to see how people collect artifacts and work with others to preserve it all.”
Both Ward’s visit to Hamilton and January’s trip were made possible thanks to the support of Johannes Burlin ’87.