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Serendipitous Paths Lead from Smith Around the Globe

You never know where a Smith education may lead. Zoe Mindell '08 knew nothing about rare books when she came to Smith; now she is pursuing research on Renaissance manuscripts, immersing herself in an internship at Christie's in London and planning an upcoming research trip to the Veneto. She talked recently from London.

Zoe Mindell

I had been to Italy and studied Latin and Italian for several years before college. My second semester at Smith, I visited the Mortimer Rare Book Room in Neilson Library with Professor Alfonso Procaccini's class Survey of Italian Literature. Martin Antonetti, curator of rare books, gave a wonderful presentation on Dante and Boccaccio. I found the books enchanting, and I wanted to know more. I stayed after class to speak to Martin and to ask if he hired students to work in the collection. Just like that, I went from washing dishes in Morrow to shelving Smith's priceless collection of rare books and manuscripts!

Working with Martin on his research has been a privilege, and I am so grateful to him for the many opportunities that came from studying Arrighi. During my junior year abroad in Florence, I traveled to Madrid on a research trip and later received a Blumberg Fellowship to continue my research during that summer. While researching archives in the Veneto, I stayed with Janice Dal Pra '52, who runs the Vicenza Hills B&B with her husband Paolo. At graduation this spring I was awarded the Phyllis Williams Lehmann Travel Award, which will allow me to return to Italy for more research after my internship at Christie's.

I always envisioned working in a museum or library after college. I knew I wanted to do something with books— I had interned in New York City at Granary Books and the Frick Art Reference Library and loved it. Martin Antonetti suggested I apply for an internship in the book department at Christie's London. I was immediately excited by the idea and sent in an application.

I was a bundle of nerves in the days leading up to my 6 a.m. phone interview. When the phone rang, I heard two voices on the line, one that I expected and the other I did not: Meg Ford '80, head of the books and manuscripts department at Christie's. That was intimidating! I knew Meg had studied with the legendary Ruth Mortimer at Smith. But our common Smith experience was a small comfort that morning when I realized she was conducting the interview!

I thought our conversation went well, but you never quite know. Then, about 20 minutes later, the phone rang again. "We've had a little chat," said the business manager, "and we would like to offer you the internship." I was ecstatic! In just 16 days I finalized my visa, packed up and moved to London on July 6. On my first day in the book department, a specialist asked me to assist him with cataloguing some Japanese atlases of China. It was a challenge, but I was thrilled to be assigned research in my first week.

Since arriving last month, I've moved into a new flat on my own, and I absolutely love my job! One of my Smith classmates, Shaoli Ghosh '08, is working in the Islamic department at Christie's, and we have become fast friends. —CJF

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