Public History Practicum Reflection

Last semester, I had the opportunity as a senior Public History major to research a topic of my choice and to create a small digital exhibit based off of it for HIS 440, Public History Practicum.

This project was something I was excited to do, as I had recently come off of working at a summer internship at the Anthracite Heritage Museum, which gave me many different ideas for a topic to focus on. Inspired by my visits at Eckley Miner’s village during my internship, and learning about women who practiced herbal medicine, I decided to focus my project on women healers and herbalists.

The topic of women in medicine is very broad, so I decided that I wanted to do a brief overview of the impact of women in medicine and their role as caretakers and healers over time.

I started my project by meeting with Dr. Black and discussing the types of resources, both primary and secondary, that I might want to use. We also discussed potential objects to be used in the exhibit, as well as how they would be situated in the context of the topic itself. She also provided me with handouts that were helpful for planning, writing for, and laying out an exhibit so that it would be easily accessible, understandable, and not confusing to readers.

I finished out my project by finalizing my objects for the digital exhibit, writing object analyses for three of my items, and finishing all the texts (such as introductions to each topic and labels).

I do wish that I could have gone more in depth in my digital exhibit, though, the topic was so broad and my timeline covered so many years that I did not think it would be possible to do so without making the exhibit seem more like a research paper. However, I enjoyed being able to focus on a topic of my choice and having total control of what I did with the exhibit. While I have some previous experience in creating small exhibits from my Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship two years ago, this built off of what I already learned and gave me some more idependence to choose my own topic of interest.

I enjoyed the experience and though it was a different way of expanding my knowledge on the topic. I feel that it definitely gave me a valuable experience and knowledge that I will be able to use for future projects.

Fall Week 1

Sara Shields

This week I met with the curator at the Anthracite Heritage Museum. I was given a tour of the museum exhibits that are usually open to the public and then a tour of the archives and library as well. The exhibit was very interesting and offered a lot of information on the history of anthracite in this region. I am from the area, so I actually toured the museum and the coal mine when I was younger; however, it was even better now!

The most exciting thing for me this past week was seeing the archives and collections downstairs. I was shown lease agreements from the early 20th century, which looked a lot different than lease agreements you would see nowadays. They were about the size of a typical pamphlet you would pick up in the doctor’s office, and they included the name and address of the renter. Another interesting thing about these lease agreements is that often people would just get up and leave without giving notice to the owner of the property; as a result, the agreements included a cash amount that they still owed. On the ones that I saw, it was often an amount less than $100.

Due to COVID-19, volunteering at AHM will be different than usual. They are currently closed to the public, but the work does not stop! This week I helped edit an exhibit on beekeeping at Eckley Miner’s Village that will eventually be put online while the museum is still closed. One thing that I learned this week is that even though the doors of the museum may be closed, the work inside does not slow down. While I wish I was volunteering at the physical museum this semester, I am still very excited to be doing the work virtually. I look forward to the rest of the semester!


Spring week 3

Ashleigh RoseThis week of my internship I was working solo on compiling averages on half of last years weekly reports. I wasn’t able to attend the weekly meeting due to a test at the same time, but they cancelled it due to a chief of staff meeting which was mandatory for the other staff. So I didn’t miss much during my exam.

Robin, who took over for David, has yet to give me any new assignments, mostly because I’m working on projects for Maria. I plan to reach out to them on Monday to discuss projects I’m involved in.

Everyone has been super busy and I am trying my hardest to help out.