Staff Spotlight: A Day in the Life of an MPA: Lydia Miller

As part of a series, and inspired by Harper’s Bazaar’s 24 Hours with [celebrity’s name], we’ve asked our Museum Program Associates to walk us through a typical day* at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

*We’re aware there is no typical day.

To start off, here’s Lydia Miller:

9:00 AM- I’m usually just arriving at work, and unlocking the Cottage is the first and most important thing to get done! I grab the keys and go unlock the Cottage. This is one of my favorite parts of the day, since I get to be in the Cottage alone and have the opportunity to be reflective. I have the chance to think about the upcoming day, and mentally prepare for my tours. 


10:30 AM-  I’m smack in the middle of a tour. We’re usually still in the parlor, and I get the chance to share on of my favorite stories with my visitors; the story of a visitor to the Cottage. A man named Col. Scott came to visit Lincoln during a very stressful week in August of 1862. This story is somewhat out of the ordinary for Lincoln, and it always gets a unique response from visitors. I truly appreciate the chance to get to share this story with visitors. 


Around noon- Preparing for afternoon school groups begins. My favorite field trip program to do with students is called “I See the President.” 4th and 5th graders come to the cottage, and get the chance to learn about Lincoln’s commute, and the people he talked to along the way. The students use primary sources to learn about the groups of people Lincoln spoke with on his commute. Working with this age group is so much fun, even if the first thing they tell me about Lincoln is that “he was killed.” 


3:00 PM-  I’m usually helping visitors in the store. If my tour had just ended, I’m answering their questions and passing out bookmarks. Making recommendations for Civil War books or Lincoln-related products is one of my favorite parts of my job. Especially for kids, since there are so many wonderful books out there for young learners! We also carry many fair-trade and ethically sourced items in the museum store, helping carry on Lincoln’s legacy of fair work for fair wages. 


5:00 PM- When a lot of people are leaving work at 5pm, sometimes I’m just getting started! On a “typical” day, I’m closing up the Cottage, and getting it set for the next day. But quite often, we have events in the evening. Helping set up the Cottage for events is always exciting, whether it’s something as small as our regular author talks (called “Cottage Conversations”) or as large as a tented wedding. Moving pieces in order to adjust the Cottage to fit the client’s needs is important to us. 

Caught! Lydia reading to children during a Lincoln’s Hat program

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