Wendy Erlanger joined the Diary Project in 1996 for intellectual stimulation and practice conducting high-quality research. She researched topics such as musical performances, forms of recreation, and later, medical treatments for gout and arthritis.
Erlanger found it thrilling to peruse the 19th-century books encased in cardboard and bound with string in the National Museum of American History’s library. Researching the various cures William Steinway pursued for his gout over the years proved to be a fascinating experience. Whether the treatment was a homeopathic remedy or a simplistic medical procedure, William never failed to try the latest treatment, despite its unproven effectiveness or painful administration. The research, along with stimulating conversation at monthly meetings, enabled Erlanger to survive her first years of motherhood with a sharp mind and a much-needed sense of humor.
Erlanger, a former piano player and unemployed mother of one, had been a research analyst for several private firms under contract to the federal government, studying educational practices, job training initiatives, and a nation-wide substance abuse prevention program. Researching various aspects of the life of the Steinway family provided her with an excellent opportunity to hone her research skills while examining a subject and period of history that she found interesting. Previously, she had received a BA in history from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in public management from the University of Maryland in College Park.