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Lea Osborne '04
How did you become interested in women’s history, why Sarah Lawrence College?I had always enjoyed history in high school, but could not really fit it in during college. My program was extremely intense and focused on the arts, and my other classes were primarily language classes. However, I did try and take some cultural and evolutionary anthropology classes that filled the niche. After spending a couple of years teaching and gigging, I realized that I missed the academic environment. I thought that going to graduate school in history would help me lay down a strong academic foundation from which to grow.
I chose Sarah Lawrence because the program there is truly unique. I was hoping to have more flexibility with my course choices and to be in an environment that fostered learning as well as had faculty who could actively support and mentor me. That summed up Sarah Lawrence.
Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance
What was your experience at Sarah Lawrence College like?
My experience was wonderful. Upon arriving, I was fortunate to befriend some excellent writers who mentored me as I refined my writing skills and honed my intellectual abilities. Some of these women continue to be my closet friends. Since the program is so small, the students tended to do everything together: study, eat, and socialize. Every moment was filled with reading and writing. When we weren’t doing that we were arguing and debating. Many times the classroom discussions would spill over into lunchtime discussions.
In terms of faculty members, Priscilla Murolo was an incredible influence. Her keen intellect and disciplined approach to life pushed me both within and outside of the classroom.
My thesis was entitled Bridging the Divide: The Alliances of the Liga Social Sufragista in the Struggle to Enfranchise Puerto Rican Women.
Reason for your interest in the subject?
As a multiracial woman, I was particularly interested in examining unconventional relationships between individuals, or groups of individuals, who at first glance seem to have nothing in common. I wanted to look at the suffrage movement, which I had my own personal issues with, from a completely different angle. What about the women who did not receive the vote once the amendment was passed? Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam all had women eligible to vote. Only Puerto Rico had active women’s groups composed of members from different classes and ethnic makeup. That this diverse group of women, with the help of the predominantly white National Women’s Party, literally took on the United States government was fascinating to me.
What did you take from your experience at Sarah Lawrence?
I think that I gained much more intellectual confidence from my time at Sarah Lawrence. I had entered the program with specific ideas of my own, but was exposed to so much more that I had to continually evolve and rework my thinking.
My writing skills also vastly improved. While I was a good writer at the time, now I am a more professional and academic writer. This is extremely important to me since writing skills are highly valued in my work as an archivist.
Further education and degrees after graduation:
Master of Science in Library and Information Studies--Palmer School, Long island University (2006 May)
Project Archivist, Leo Baeck Institute at the Center for Jewish History
Processing Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University (current position)