Preserving a Piece of Women’s History

Morgan Manning House in the Village of Brockport.
Student interns at local landmark, transcribing the letters of a Brockport matriarch to her daughter.

Kylene Smith, a double major in Women and Gender Studies and Anthropology, discusses her internship with the Morgan Manning House — a historic landmark in the Brockport area.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you chose Brockport.

A: After becoming a wife and mother at a very young age, my education took a back seat. After twenty years, I chose to come back to school and show my children that it is never too late to finish what you’ve started. When I chose Brockport, I knew that the faculty would be supportive towards me as a non-traditional student and adult learner.

Q: What made you want to major in Women and Gender Studies and Anthropology?

A: Growing up, I was the only girl with many male family members. I often felt that I was limited in opportunities that my male family members were able to pursue. I became motivated to investigate why there is such a double standard in society based on female/male binary, which led me to my major in Women and Gender Studies.

Later, I added an Anthropology major after taking Indigenous women classes at Brockport. The knowledge that Indigenous women possessed, especially regarding stewardship of the Earth, resonated strongly with me. I felt there was so much I could learn from their gratitude, not just by caring for the Earth, but also for humanity.

Q: How did the experience above lead to your internship experience and studies?

A: My previous experiences drove me to advocating for the knowledge women possess. Within my internship with the Morgan Manning House, I was able to experience first-hand what daily life for women was like in the 1800’s.

One of the responsibilities, within my internship, was to transcribe letters between Susan Morgan and her daughters, Sara, and Susie. Through transcribing these historical letters, I was able to build a final project where which I revealed how “hysteria” was a condition of patriarchal dominance.

Q: What would you tell a future student interested in your field of study?

A: Like everyone else, you have a voice that deserves to be heard. Further your education so you can use it as a platform to educate others, be an ally, and advocate for those that need it.

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