For Taylor Jeromos ’14, history is a way to look beyond the traditional history narrative.
She says that if she were to analyze a particular historical event, she would do it from women’s history perspective.
“Most of ‘mainstream’ history has been about great white men,” says Jeromos. “That is what history was about for years, decades, and centuries. If you teach history from the perspective of great white men, you leave out basically every minority.”
For Jeromos, women’s history is an attempt to learn about the perspective of those minorities, to identify their impact and significance in history.
Jeromos says the most impressive figures in women’s history for her are beguines. The women, who lived in informal religious communities, worked for themselves and remained independent from men intrigued her as a very particular example of such minorities.
When Jeromos was on a study abroad program in London, she got an opportunity to travel to Amsterdam and Belgium, where she visited beguinages, the places where beguines lived.
“That was one of the favorite moments of my whole entire life,” says Jeromos.
“Beguines are the intersection of a lot of my interests. They are medieval; they are strong women, which I look forward to in my life today. They were also very interesting because they were out of the mainstream.”
“Getting to experience that while I was travelling alone was very cool. Because beguinages were the places of refuge for a lot of women, I felt a sense of being a part of the community even though it does not exist anymore,” says Jeromos.
Jeromos says she discovered her interest very soon after starting taking classes at Earlham. “When I was in classes, I was really interested in women that we were talking about. I never really cared when we were talking about wars, or about great men,” she explains.
One particular class that influenced her interest in women’s history was a Ford Knight research seminar “Digitizing history”. The class focused on the works and essays of Esther Griffin White, a politician, journalist and Quaker, who lived in Richmond and was a prominent voice in the community. Learning about this woman’s life and placing it in historical context was a kind of experience she was looking for in her major.
“Studying women’s history you get a lot of sense of where societal structures come from, especially patriarchal structures, and how and why women are affected the way they are. That has really gotten me a lot further in dealing with who I am today,” she continues.
Jeromos says she wants to take her knowledge of the past and interpret it in a way that would help her make the world a little bit better. She says her major taught her to question everything that happens to her in order to understand what she can offer the world today.