Hello! My name is Emily Wells and I currently live in Williamsburg, Virginia. I am working towards a doctorate in History at William & Mary and am writing a dissertation on girlhood in the American South between the Revolution and the Civil War. As a result, I spend most of my time reading letters, diaries, and other manuscripts written by girls during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries!
I spend my free time taking walks through Colonial Williamsburg, relaxing with my cat, and teaching myself to sew. I also enjoy collecting antiques; my favorite objects to collect are novels from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, needlework samplers, and nineteenth-century friendship albums.
As the job market looms nearer, I have less of a clear vision of what my “dream job” might be but a better idea of the type of work I want to do. I know that I want to continue my research on girls and girlhood and to share my research through writing. I also know that I want to teach, either in a classroom or in a museum. I also want to continue working with historical objects, especially objects made by girls!
There is little contest for the museum that has had the greatest impact on my career as a historian. I first encountered Colonial Williamsburg, a large, open-air, living history museum, on a family vacation at the age of ten. Having already immersed myself in the world of late eighteenth-century Williamsburg through the book series Felicity: An American Girl I was ready to have my own “colonial” adventure. As I walked through Colonial Williamsburg I fell in love with the materiality of the past, reveling in everything from the swish of silk skirts to the crunch of oyster shells that lined the garden paths. As an adult, I have had the chance to reengage with Colonial Williamsburg as both a visitor and an employee. As two-time curatorial intern, I have had the opportunity to help catalog the museum’s toy and textile collections and, in doing so, uncover the stories of these objects and their makers. As a visitor, I have been able to rediscover the spaces that enchanted me as a girl while reexamining them through a more critical lens.
One lesson that I have gleaned from my research on girls and girlhood is that girls have always had a voice, the issue is that many adults do not listen. As adults, it is our responsibility to listen to girls, protect their right to self-expression, and empower those who seek to change our world for the better.
Girl Museum Inc.