Learning Across Boundaries (LABs)

Oak Spring Places, Virginia, USA

February to March 2019

A Spring Break project led by Deans Trisha Craig and Ronald Milne

For this spring break trip, which is an internship/LAB hybrid, we return to the beautiful Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF) in Virginia near Washington, DC, the former home of philanthropists and renowned art collectors, Bunny and Paul (Yale, ’29) Mellon. The Mellons are one of the most storied families in US history. A Scotch-Irish family from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they were one of the wealthiest families in America in the twentieth century. Their family fortune started with the Mellon Bank, founded 1869 by Thomas Mellon and his sons, Andrew W. Mellon and Richard B. Mellon. Andrew Mellon (1855-1937), Paul’s father, would become a brilliant banker and businessman, treasury secretary under three presidents, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, and founder of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Paul Mellon (1907-1999) continued his father’s legacy of art collecting and philanthropy although he did not share his father’s interest in business. An Anglophile, he was fond of British art and founded the Yale Center for British Art to which he donated his vast collection of British art. (He was a Yale graduate, worked for the Yale Daily News and was in Scroll and Key.) Together with his second wife Bunny, he also collected Impressionist and modern art which were donated to the National Gallery of Art and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Rachel ‘Bunny’ Mellon (1910-2014)  was an heiress to the Listerine fortune but also had an incredible talent and eye for design.  Her work in the field of gardening and horticulture has influenced generations of designers and her legacies include the White House Rose Garden, the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden at the White House, the Kitchen Garden at the Palace of Versailles in France and Oak Spring.  After Bunny’s death in 2014, a bequest turned the Mellon’s estate Oak Spring Farm into the Oak Spring Garden Foundation, whose mission is to inspire and facilitate scholarship and public dialogue on the history and future of plants, including the culture of gardens and landscapes and the importance of plants for human well-being.

Yale-NUS is collaborating with OSGF and its founding President, Sir Peter Crane (former dean of Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies) on a multiyear project to create a gazetteer, similar to a dictionary of place, focusing on contemporary and historical sites, events and people associated with the area surrounding OSGF and the Oak Spring properties.  Making use of archival records, maps, interviews, site visits, and field trips, interns will gather information and write entries and stories of place. In addition, interns and project leaders will spend a day discussing the digital humanities and its potential applications and meet with the leadership of the famed Dunbarton Oaks, a Harvard owned research library and collection in Washington, DC, and the Yale Digital Humanities LAB.

Students will spend time with Foundation staff, many of whom worked with the Mellons, visit the surrounding communities and places associated with Oak Spring, Loudon County and the Mellons, conduct research online and in the magnificent library on site, and draft entries for the gazetteer.  They will also design and discuss digital representations of the elements of the gazetteer.

Six places are available on the spring break trip.  Additionally, two summer internships will be available at Oak Springs and one at the Yale Digital Humanities Lab in New Haven to further work on digital aspects of the gazetteer, and these will be filled by participants on the spring break trip. Students will be expected to do some research and writing prior to the trip.

The internship is open to all students but those majoring in or intending to major in Anthropology, Arts and Humanities, Economics (especially with an interest in economic history), Environmental Studies, History, and Urban Studies may find it particularly useful for their development as well as students with an interest in the Digital Humanities. Students should possess excellent research and especially writing skills.

Dates: Friday, 22 February – Sunday, 3 March 2019

Have Questions?
Trisha Craig
Vice President

Vice President (Engagement)

  • Application Instructions
  • Resources
  • Itinerary

To apply, please complete the following and submit to Dean Trisha Craig trisha.craig@yale-nus.edu.sg by Wednesday, 23 January 2019 at 5:00pm SGT. 

Compile the following information in a Word document named “First Name_Last Name”, and submit your application via email using the subject header “Oak Spring Places”.

  1. Personal Information – This information will be used if you are selected for this LAB, so please make sure all details are correct.
  • Name (as on passport)
  • Class (e.g. 2019, 2020, 2021, or 2022)
  • Email
  • Whatsapp number
  • Date of Birth (DD/MM/YYYY):
  • Passport issued by (country):
  • Passport number:
  • Major or intended major:
  1. Statement of interest: Why do you want to participate in this LAB and how will you use this experience to further your personal, academic, and/or professional goals? (up to 300 words)
  2. Indicate if you plan to apply for either (or both) summer internship at Oak Spring or Yale Digital Humanities Lab.
  3. Please provide a sample of your written work. It should be analytical or descriptive in nature (not fiction or creative writing) and no more than 800 words.
  4. Please include a copy of your passport bio-data page when you submit your application.