In the next decade or so, you might find Rachael Barrett ‘17 leading tours around one of the most prestigious museums in the country: the Smithsonian Museum in the nation’s capital.
Or at least, that’s one career path that the history and international studies double major is thinking about pursuing after she earns her master’s degree. “It would be a cool place to just be part of articulating [history],” she said.
Like many college students, Rachael, who works at Denison Library’s Circulation Desk, is still figuring out the process to achieving this goal. Luckily for her, she’s already figured out and executed some of the steps to make her a compelling candidate for her aspiring career as a historian, including having conducted her own research with Professor Megan Threlkeld last summer about the difficulty women faced during the Great Depression to both get and keep jobs.
But this isn’t where her research started. She had originally wanted to look at the effects that the Social Security Act 1935 had on women’s labor but soon discovered that this was not the heart of the issue, according to primary source documents articulated by women during the time period. “As a result, I decided to focus on how women who wrote in periodicals responded to laws that barred married women from working,” she said.
Rachael found from her research that the government “tailored their arguments to changes in public opinion.” While women were often granted more rights after they were granted the right to vote in 1920, these rights were largely subdued during the Great Depression because the public became more focused on the economy than equal rights for women.
“While I knew that it was difficult for women to get and keep jobs during the Great Depression, I was surprised by the extent to which the government actively barred married women from the workforce, citing that men had families to provide for and women did not,” she said.
Rachael noted that, in a way, this fight still continues today with women’s fight to earn the same pay as men when completing the same work.
After Rachael’s ten week research experience was finally completed in July, Rachael returned home to Downers Grove, Ill. for some much needed rest. The research was “tiring, but a really good experience,” she said.