Pearls, Communism, and Tumblr: An Interview With Lauren Palmor

“I’ve always been interested in archives,” Lauren Palmor says, the creator of  the tumblr called Sarah Lawrence Girls. Palmor’s tumblr is devoted to displaying Sarah Lawrence’s history through its references in everything from pop culture to classic literature. It turns out, there are plenty, from J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey to vintage issues of LIFE magazine.

Palmor graduated from Sarah Lawrence in 2008, and moved on get her MA in art history at the Cortauld Institute of Art in London. She will be starting her PhD at the University of Washington in the fall. Her interest in art history, especially the meaning of clothing in art, stems from a course she took on Victorian art at SLC. “I owe everything to Sarah Lawrence. I wouldn’t be where I am without my education there,” Palmor says, “The blog is a nice way of saying thank you to Sarah Lawrence.”

Lauren Palmor, SLC grad and tumblr curator extraordinaire

Palmor’s online tribute to her alma mater is no small job. As the sole manager of the tumblr, all of the research is on her shoulders. She sometimes consults with the Sarah Lawrence archivists (she says that Abby Lester has the “dream job”), but she is also constantly searching online. Despite her happy-go-lucky attitude about the work, Palmor admits, “I wish I had more submissions.” Since the inauguration of the site this past September, she has had only three content submissions.

Of course, this could be due to the simple fact that Sarah Lawrence has no officially published history and most students don’t know much about their predecessors. “I don’t think the history factors into people’s knowledge of the school,” Palmor explains. “There are some really interesting stories that aren’t part of the common knowledge. And [Sarah Lawrence Girls] is a good place to meet heroes you haven’t met yet”.

Palmor’s love of archives was born at Sarah Lawrence. “I would go sit in the archives on a rainy day,” says Palmor, which led to the creation of the Petticoat Historical Auxiliary. The student group’s goal was to unearth forgotten campus traditions and revive them. However, “it was surprisingly hard to get people interested.”

 

L-R: Leah Perrotti, Emily Goldsher, Lauren Palmor (me!), and Jona Tarlin, all class of 2008.

 

This seems surprising given the colorful history of SLC. Palmor notes, “It’s interesting how stereotypes of SLC girls have changed over the years. There’s always been an identity.” In the beginning, it was fancy girls in pearls playing tennis. By the ‘60’s, Sarah Lawrence students were seen as a bunch of communists wearing black. Now, we are seen as a bunch of ‘lesbians who pay $50,000 a year.’”

Palmor notes one of her favorite Sarah Lawrence film references, the awful ’80’s movie, “Baby It’s You.” “In the movie, the most dramatic thing that happens is that the preppy girl from New Jersey goes to SLC and comes back a totally different person, wearing black cigarette pants and a black turtleneck! You should watch that movie, it’s horrible.”

Palmor hopes that with her tumblr, the current generation of SLC students will learn more about the school’s fascinating history. So far, it’s been going well. Palmor gets quite a bit of rewarding feedback, and she commends the online platform. “I think tumblr is a really great tool for sharing the history of a place.” So far her content has been reblogged heavily on various websites, including Yoko Ono’s, a site devoted to ‘50’s fashion, and even a Beatles blog.

Palmor leaves current students with a valuable tip: “I urge all students to go to the archives. Spend some time with the history of the school!”

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Photo credit: Lauren Palmor

 

 

 

(On Campus Editor) is a film kid and hyper-curious about the world in general. Moonlighting as a wedding videographer, she strives to one day become her own boss as a filmmaker and illustrator. Anna is easy to talk to and anyone who knows her knows that free candy is the way to her heart. To see some of her work, check out www.annaquinlan.com

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