During the summer of 2019, I worked as an intern in the archives at the Lippitt House.
I quite enjoyed the experience, reading through older documents and files about the museum,
I gained a better understanding of how small house museums work. Lippitt House Museum was formed when the descendants of Henry Lippitt donated the house to Preserve Rhode Island. Lippitt House achieved financial sustainability to become a museum by creating and selling a condo and leasing two apartments in the house to residents.
I also learned about the importance of grant writing and event planning for the financial and social stability of small non-profits like Lippitt House. Tagging along to staff meetings, workshops, and events, also gave me a sense of what it might be like to work at a small house museum. In addition, working in the archives gave me an introduction to archival work, and reinforced my organizational skills. A research day at the RI Historical Society Archives provided additional perspective on professional archival methods.
Lippitt House is not only an important example of Victorian architecture, but the stories of its inhabitants resonate with visitors today. The Lippitt men were prominent political office holders, but the Lippitt women also played a role in social change. I was particularly inspired by the story of Mary Ann Balch Lippitt, who taught her deaf daughter to lip read and eventually founded a school for the deaf. It’s been a pleasure to work in such an important Providence landmark.
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