Thorndike paper explores the talented and tragic life of photographer Francesca Woodman

Julia Beckwith '17 researches Abbot and Andover alumna

by Neil C Evans

June 8, 2017

—The 2017 Thorndike Intern Julia Beckwith was drawn to her subject because of their shared love of photography. Beckwith, a 2017 graduate who is heading to Scripps College this fall, chose to research acclaimed photographer Francesca Woodman who attended both Abbot Academy and Phillips Academy from 1972 to 1974.

In her research paper titled “A Dorm Room Darkroom: Francesca Woodman’s Artistic Formation at Andover,” Beckwith explored the family life and history of Woodman’s academic experience at Abbot and Andover. She also interviewed former Andover photography teacher and Addison Gallery of American Art director of photography Don Snyder who described Woodman as “extremely serious about her work… very hard-working, very process-oriented and intuitive…[and] always interested in feedback.”

Thorndike paper

Beckwith shared her paper last month during the 13th annual Thorndike Internship Luncheon, which was attended by brothers Nick ’51 and John ’45 Thorndike, who established the Thorndike Internship in 2005 in memory of their brother Augustus “Gus” Thorndike, Jr. ’37. Other attendees included 2010 Thorndike Intern Tom Hamel ’10 who wrote about William Wheelwright, Class of 1814, a notable developer of transportation systems in South America; Ryan Wheeler, director of the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology; Chris Jones, instructor and chair of the history and social sciences department; and Madeline Zerbey ’18, the 2018 Thorndike Scholar.

Jones said the Thorndike Internship is a special project because it introduces students to “pure research. There is no test and no grade at the end of it. The goal is purely to explore one’s curiosity and learn something new.”

Read about the 2016 Thorndike Scholar Justin Muchnick ’16 who researched the early history of wrestling at Andover and famed grappler Howard Malcolm Baldridge, Class of 1914.