Molly Foye ’23MS Shares Her Passion for Material Culture and Archives
SLIS graduate student Molly Foye developed an interest in material culture during her undergraduate education. Currently, Foye holds a position on a farm in New Hampshire that enables her to expand the possibilities of archival work and librarianship.
Why did you decide to concentrate on archives, records management, and leadership?
I have always been fascinated by material culture and the spectrum of human expression. This reflects my undergraduate degree in anthropology and Spanish. The aspects of human behavior that collect, arrange, and assign value to the objects we interact with everyday really intrigues me. I think that all humans, regardless of our background and training, are archivists in how we interact with and order our possessions. Our approaches speak of our intersecting identities. I am happily motivated to apply archival theory with a DEI lens to realign the focus of inclusivity and identity in the world of archives.
I am also seeking the management and leadership experience to highlight and tie together some previous roles I had before coming to Simmons. Prior to Simmons, I worked in a variety of student support roles, mostly with non-profits and at-risk youth in various leadership roles. Now I am looking for ways to do that in a library, archive, or museum setting.
What attracts me to this field is the opportunity to help people. As an archivist, you can connect patrons with the types of resources they are looking for while engaging with collections that may speak to your own interests and passions. For me, this is material culture. The opportunity to connect the public with archival material, in all forms, or objects they are curious about brings me great joy, professionally.
Why did you choose Simmons?
Simmons has a wide variety of courses and tracks, and these inspired me. I am also impressed by the history of the institution and the learning community surrounding Simmons. I love northern New England and would be happy to stay here long term. I did not want to move away from New England to pursue my degree. I am fortunate to be able to commute to Boston, and having flexibility with online courses is helpful as well.
Tell us about your summer employment in New Hampshire.
In May, I accepted a seasonal position as Assistant to the Program Manager at the Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm in Tamworth, New Hampshire, a small rural town in the white mountains.
The Museum includes two historic homes; several outbuildings, both historic and modern (including multiple barns and sheds, a stable, ice house, milk house, maple sugaring house, gazebo, and greenhouse); and approximately 100 acres of field, pasture, and woodland which are open to and interpreted for the public.
This property has been maintained by the Remick family since the 1770s, and it became a museum in 1996. The site has been continuously used for agricultural practice for over 200 years. The last two generations of the Remick family that lived on site, a father and son team, were both country doctors. Combined, they practiced cradle to grave medical care in the family's home and while on house calls in the greater community from 1904-1993, totaling 99 consecutive years of care. Aside from the affluent Remick family, farmhands (and their families) as well as nurses have lived and worked onsite.
As a working farm, we host two, raw milk CSA's. We produce our own eggs, beef and lamb. There are programs for both public and homeschool groups as well as various tours and activities during the summer and fall months.
I have an amazing hybrid role that allows me to work as a museum educator, archival researcher, and a farmhand. This position enables me to connect with some aspects of the farm and gardening tasks that have been conducted daily on this property for the last 200 years, while also engaging with the public to explore themes of history, agriculture and medicine.
Currently, I complete farm chores in the mornings and afternoons–this consists of feeding and supplying water to our rabbit, miniature horse, sheep and goats. I care for the 5 exhibit gardens by planting, weeding, irrigating, harvesting and composting. I pitch in when needed to muck stalls, move animals to new stalls or pastures, bottle feed, and docent with animals for impromptu, educational programs.
I most enjoy working with the Nubian goats and the Katahdin sheep – I was fortunate enough to bond with some Katahdin lambs and halter trained them. This winter, as the needs of the farm team shift, I may assist with milking and maple sugar production, filling in gaps as needed.
Our collection is composed of roughly 10,000 items. The bulk of these items are from the Remick family, including the Drs. Remick, and consist of medical paraphernalia and textbooks, farm equipment, tools and hardware, housewares, sports equipment, garments, jewelry, personal libraries, fine art, photographic materials as well as medical and agricultural documents.
The majority of visitors, families with children, come to explore the grounds and the farm related programs of our site. This summer I led goat hikes, farm tours, and farm chores programs while weaving the history of the country doctor practice into conversations about the history and uses of the site. Medical history tours are offered regularly for those who seek to learn more about rural medical care while touring parts of the historic Captain Enoch Remick House.
After a successful summer, I have been offered a full-time, salaried position with housing on site, which is really truly wonderful.
What are your aspirations after graduation?
I am very flexible about the type of repository in which I would like to work. I hope to combine my interests in material culture with leadership and management. I would consider postings in corporate archives or record management positions. I would also like to apply to university archives and special collections positions. A position, remote or in person, that will support my desire to homestead is my dream. I would like to have a vegetable and flower garden as well as some dairy goats and sheep.
What advice do you have for students pursuing a similar career path?
Sit down and try to evaluate what brings you joy in a work environment. Don't limit yourself – consider places off the beaten path! Consider the type of work environment that suits you best. Advocate for yourself when necessary. Simmons carries a stellar reputation – so be sure to network. Trust the curriculum! My enrollment in the SLIS program at Simmons and directly relevant experience I gained from the Simmons curated practicum landed me a paid internship in the archives department at the local library in Tamworth.