Well, here it is my senior year of undergrad. I FINALLY made it to this point and boy am I glad about it! I decided I enjoyed the Land of Lincoln so much that I spent a second summer there doing another internship. The research topic was "Faith Communities In Lincoln's Springfield." I went in with the expectation that I would go interview pastors and look at old church records. This experience helped me grow as a historian. I learned that not every church has a well documented church history. I thought it would be as simple as going to a church office and having records in a safe or something. Unfortunately, that was not always the case. Of course, some churches documented their history better then others. A city church directory, which is based upon what is printed in the newspapers, can "omit" churches because they may not have a formal location. For example, I learned that there was a group of Jews who were holding services in Springfield. Then again, ethnic minorities in Springfield wasn't uncommon. The exiles from Madeira, Portugal is another perfect example. I also learned that Lincoln contributed to building funds, even though he never formally joined a church. I also learned that some of his hired help were founding members of some of the oldest churches in Springfield. A highlight of my summer was going to Zion Baptist Church, the oldest African American church in Springfield and telling them that one of their founding members, Mariah Vance worked for Abraham Lincoln. That is what drives my love for history. I like to tell the stories of everyday people who just happen to be involved with historic people or places. I remember sitting in the park and looking at the house. I imagined Mariah Vance singing negro spirituals as she was walking to the house or in the backyard hanging out laundry. It moved me to tears because that same faith has transcended through so many generations. Sorry, there I go being a "holling historian" again. I think that is part of my passion for my profession. I just have to turn it into a skill set that will help me in my career. So, not only did I grow professionally, I grew spiritually. So, this internship was very beneficial for me.
While in Springfield, I always manage to find side projects to get myself into. I thought that more people should know about African Americans in Lincoln's Springfield. That included everything from Lincoln's barber to the Race Riots of 1908 and the separate celebration of Lincoln's 100th birthday by African Americans. After talking with people like Richard Hart and Anthony Landis, I submitted an abstract to present at the ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) 94th convention, To my surprise, it was accepted. I also started attending meetings for a Lincoln Legacy Committee. These great group of folks wanted to have a program talking about the diversity of Lincoln's Springfield. They decided to have me as a guest speaker. I was a little shocked by it. All expense paid. I guess I need to get used to it. So, I'll be back in Springfield for almost 2 weeks. I will be presenting my research at 3 more history conventions. As a good friend said, "your gifts will make room for you. " I guess he was right. So, I will see where this Lincoln thing takes me yet once again.