The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee is thrilled to be able to congratulate Jenniffer Ammerman on her imminent graduation from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee! Jenniffer spent twelve years on active duty with the United States Air Force and will now be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in History from UWM. She has worked with the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee since the fall of 2017. For two semesters she opted to work for academic credit, capitalizing on the opportunity to complete internship requirements for her degree. Over the summer of 2018, Jenniffer also was awarded a SURF (Support for Undergraduate Research Fellows) grant through UWM’s Office of Undergraduate Research.
Jenniffer first got involved with the project as a way to learn more about the different career opportunities available to those with a degree in history. To this end, Jenniffer has been involved in many aspects of the project. As a fact-checker she verified the accuracy of information in many entries. This involves not just confirming dates and spelling but also ensuring that, “the information provided was accurately portrayed.” She also assisted co-worker Paul Newcomb with cross-referencing entries, specifically working on the politics rubric. Additionally, Jenniffer has enjoyed writing content for the Encyclopedia. She explains, “I worked with Professor Seligman on the Google News Understory attached to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entry. And I am wrapping up work on the writing of an entry for the Washington Park neighborhood.”
When asked what she has enjoyed the most about her work with the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, Jenniffer’s response was, “the hunt for sources.” To ensure a rigorous standard, the Encyclopedia strives to verify facts with multiple sources. This means that students working on writing entries and fact-checking learn to do primary source research and must be able to determine the authority of those sources. Students like Jenniffer often work with archival records, historic newspapers, and other source material that can be tricky to locate and evaluate. That type of research can feel like a scavenger hunt, but a fun and rewarding one when students are successful in finding the sources they need.
This same joy can also be one of the biggest challenges, because working with historical documents can be challenging and time-consuming. Jenniffer thinks that time management is one of the biggest hurdles of the position. Historians are often detail-oriented and can fixate on tracking down the best source, but they also need to balance this with real time constraints. This is precisely the type of skill that the project has allowed Jenniffer to develop, a skill that will serve her well as she transitions from the academic world back out to the professional world. Jenniffer credits the Encyclopedia with helping her hone her research skills as well as introducing her to topics she might not have been drawn to otherwise.
So, as Jenniffer prepares to graduate and move on from the Encyclopedia and UW-Milwaukee, what the one thing she wants our readers to know? “It’s never too late to start a new career.”