Public History Alumna Awarded Fellowship
Recently named a recipient of a Jeffe Fellowship with the New York Preservation Archive Project (NYPAP), Jeanette Lazo ’11C, ’21G continues to use the skills and knowledge gained during her days as a student in the Master of Arts degree program in Public History and Library and Information Science in St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as she concentrates her efforts on celebrating New York City’s history.
Funded through a special grant from the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Foundation, the yearlong Jeffe Fellowship focuses on implementing standards of organization and accessibility for NYPAP’s archival and oral history collections. In this role, one of her main tasks is researching and creating in-depth content for NYPAP’s many public-facing communication channels.
Ms. Lazo’s other objective is to assist with diversifying the NYPAP website and increasing its accessibility for international audiences. This involves translating website materials into Spanish and developing a plan to make the website friendlier to Spanish speakers. The long-term goal is to incorporate other communities and languages into one all-inclusive website.
Ms. Lazo applied to the fellowship after encouragement from Kristin M. Szylvian, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of History and the Division of Library and Information Science, and Program Director, M.A. in Public History. While a student at St. John’s, Ms. Lazo contributed her efforts to a grant-supported initiative to digitize Queens’ naturalization records. She also gained professional experience in archives through an internship with the Queens County Clerk’s office.
Her experience deepened her passion for the preservation of New York City’s rich history. “The New York Preservation Archive Project is an organization working to maintain the identity of the city of New York, so it hits home for me,” said Ms. Lazo. “This is where I’m from, and it takes people who care to protect our communities and the legacy of where we come from.”
Ms. Lazo, who majored in History as an undergraduate at St. John’s, was further encouraged to pursue the field of public history by Dr. Szylvian. “Dr. Szylvian showed me all the different career pathways for someone interested in history and working to protect history,” she said. “I love the draw of the archives; there are so many historical places in New York that need us to preserve the essence of what New York was and how we arrived at where we are today.”
Currently pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Archives and Records Management from Long Island University, when Ms. Lazo is not working at her fellowship, one of her favorite pastime activities is exploring the city: “When you observe people experience New York for the first time, you learn to appreciate it yourself and not take it for granted.”