Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Women of influence

Double majoring in government and history, Dr. Vanessa Wilkie ’00 envisioned going to law school however, she was not set on becoming a lawyer. After completing a Community Service Internship in her junior year, Wilkie’s vision came into focus.   

“I did an internship at the heritage room (archive) at Smiley Library,” Wilkie recalled. “That was my first taste of working with documents and transcribing things - I absolutely fell in love with it.”

24 years later, Wilkie’s Bulldog education has taken her places she never imagined. As the William A. Moffett Senior Curator of Medieval Manuscripts and British History at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, Wilkie attributes her education and the internship with shaping her career.

“In my senior year, there was a class that was offered in the history department for museum curating,” Wilkie said. “We got to work in the San Bernardino County Museum, the heritage room, and the Yorba-Slaughter Adobe and curate an exhibit there. Doing that made me realize there is a way to take all of these things and have a public service component to it. That’s what got me on that track.”

In April 2023, Wilkie authored her first book, A Woman of Influence: The Spectacular Rise of Alice Spencer in Tudor England. Spinning out of her dissertation work, Wilkie wanted to highlight a “woman that was a central feature of my research and use her as a way to think about the legal agency of women in a period where it seemed like they shouldn’t have or didn’t on paper, have that much agency.”

Traveling to various archives around the world, Wilkie’s continued research helped her discover endless avenues of Spencer’s life and piece together the historical non-fiction narrative.

On March 20, Wilkie returned to the U of R campus and discussed her book and the impact of Spencer’s life, all while embodying what it means to be Relentlessly Redlands.

Click the links to learn more about Community Service Internships and the history department.