As of last Friday night, when I turned in the final grades from my section of "The United States since 1877" my first year as a doctoral student officially came to an end. I really enjoyed being a full-time student again, and also enjoyed the opportunity to teach a college class on a college campus. My assistantship ended with the semester, however, and I was left with the question of what to do with the summer. While I am not against working at Wal-mart or some other similar job (I've worked in both the fast food and grocery industries in my day), I wanted something that would be beneficial to my academic and career goals.
I found the perfect job, an internship with the Theodore Roosevelt digital library, which actually has North Dakota ties because of Roosevelt's time in Dakota Territory. The first presidential library was set up for Herbert Hoover. TR's second term ended about twenty years before Hoover's lone term began. Therefore, there is no presidential library for Roosevelt. One really cool thing about this job is that I get to read all sorts of old documents on all sorts of (sometimes) random topics related to one of my favorite presidents. As an aspiring historian, this is the type of work that provides ammo for articles and, hopefully, books. Regardless of whether any publications come from this work, it nonetheless provides a great learning experience and helps me understand more about one of the past eras that I find especially interesting.
One of the topics that I have already had an opportunity to notice is religion. Various correspondents have discussed Catholicism, Methodism, and Protestantism in their letters and other communications with the Progressive Era president. One of the interesting letters mentioned Protestantism and Americanism in the same context (actually the same phrase of the same sentence). Some of my previous reading and research shows that many Americans from this era viewed the terms nearly synonymously. I am only in the first week of this job, and I've already seen several of these interesting notes. I'm hoping to see many more since my major research project is going to focus upon Progressive/World War I era Christianity.