Miriam Glatfelter ’24: Exploring creativity and connection through art history

Miriam Glatfelter at the Schmucker Art Gallery
As the inaugural Susan ’77 and Joseph ’75 Biernat intern, Miriam Glatfelter ’24 curated an art exhibition titled “Reading Mary Margaret Stewart” at the Schmucker Art Gallery.

As an art history major with minors in public history and Civil War era studies, Miriam Glatfelter ’24 recognizes the deep-rooted history of Gettysburg. This historical presence coupled with a dynamic history department ultimately enticed her to choose Gettysburg College.

“I really like the fact that Gettysburg is so tied to the history of this region and has such an excellent history department, as well as an art history department. A lot of colleges don’t provide this much support for art history, and I was very fond of seeing that at Gettysburg,” Glatfelter said.

Glatfelter also has familial ties to the College. Glatfelter Hall is named after Philip H. Glatfelter, who served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 1888 to 1907. Philip would have been Miriam’s third cousin five times removed.

Miriam Glatfelter
Miriam Glatfelter ’24 stands in front of Glatfelter Hall, a building named after her distant relative Philip H. Glatfelter.

There also is another Glatfelter connection to the College through Emeritus Professor of History Dr. Charles H. Glatfelter ’46, who was the founder of the Adams County Historical Society and taught at the College from 1949 to 1989. Charles would have been Miriam’s sixth cousin twice removed.

“A lot of people do ask me about the connection, so it’s nice that I can provide them with that genealogical history,” Glatfelter said. “I also think it’s just so neat to know that Glatfelter Hall is here. It’s my favorite building on campus, and I take photos of it most of the times that I pass by.”

Glatfelter currently serves as the inaugural Susan ’77 and Joseph ’75 Biernat intern. The Biernat internship is a semester-long opportunity in Special Collections devoted to curatorial studies, fine arts, and public history. Through this internship, Glatfelter has curated the exhibition “Reading Mary Margaret Stewart” at the Schmucker Art Gallery.

“As the Biernat intern, I work as the go-between for Special Collections and the Schmucker Art Gallery, and I also work with the fine arts collections here at Gettysburg College,” Glatfelter explained. “Starting in January of 2023, my task has been to curate an exhibit. I helped to unpack the works that have come from Mary Margaret Stewart’s house.”

Miriam Glatfelter
The exhibition “Reading Mary Margaret Stewart” at the Schmucker Art Gallery features numerous pieces of artwork that Miriam Glatfelter ’24 had to research and identify for presentation.

Mary Margaret Stewart was one of Gettysburg College’s first tenured female professors and taught English from 1959 until her retirement in 1996. Stewart was an avid art collector who donated her extensive collection to the College, and about 70 pieces of that collection were accessioned into the fine arts collection. Glatfelter researched each of these pieces and selected which would be featured in the exhibit.

“With many of those works, there was no identifying information—no artist’s signature or an illegible signature, no title, no provenance—so I did my best to fill in those details for each of the art works, and we have a much better understanding of those works now,” Glatfelter said. “Once I had developed that knowledge of the collection, I went through and selected about 15 pieces that are hanging in the gallery as part of the exhibition.”

Initially, Glatfelter believed the exhibition’s theme would center around Stewart’s involvement as an English professor and the collection’s assortment of text-based prints. However, the project morphed into a larger biography of Stewart and includes the various mediums of her collection: text-based prints, portraits, pictures of animals, and prints of England. Glatfelter attributes the exhibition’s title to a meeting with Associate Director of the Civil War Institute Dr. Jill Ogline Titus.

“I was in a meeting with Dr. Jill Titus about my public history minor—so something totally unrelated—but I mentioned to her that I was working on this exhibit and was having difficulty in finding a title,” Glatfelter explained. “She said, ‘Reading Mary Margaret Stewart,’ and I asked if I could use that!”

Miriam Glatfelter
Miriam Glatfelter ’24 stands in her curated art exhibit, where she was able to select about 15 pieces from Mary Margaret Stewart’s original collection to feature.

Glatfelter was granted creative freedom with the exhibition, gaining the chance to select the pieces for the show, complete all the necessary writings that accompany the displays, and decide arrangements like the gallery’s wall color and how the pieces would be organized.

For Glatfelter, Gettysburg College has provided her with opportunities to collaborate with Special Collections and the Schmucker Art Gallery. These opportunities have allowed her to explore the College’s history and have better prepared her for the professional world.

“I feel so much more prepared to explore my interests as I move into a career field because of how I’ve been able to explore those interests here at Gettysburg College,” Glatfelter said. “It’s excellent that Gettysburg provides these opportunities to students. It’s been a very enjoyable and educational experience, and I’ve gained so many opportunities from this that I couldn’t have found otherwise.”

Learn more about Schmucker Art Gallery and the engaging opportunities it provides for Gettysburg College students.

By Laken Franchetti ’24
Photos by Sofia Gutierrez ’26
Posted: 11/29/23

More stories