Students in Dr. Carmichael's Introduction to Public History course completed walking tour podcasts. The goal of each group was to explore how different people can attach radically different meanings to the same historical place.
"The 1913 Gettysburg Reunion tries to explore how the battlefield was not only the sight of fighting but of a reunion of combatants, most of whom had radically different versions of the Civil War, and of unrealized African American social and political advancement in the war's aftermath. One of the greatest challenges for our group was simply trying to create a visual image of what was happening in Gettysburg in 1913. Although most of the reunion's activities took place on the battlefield and thus on ground that was sure to be preserved, no physical evidence of the massive reunion remains." (Brian Johnson, '14)
Creating these podcasts gave the students a taste of the truly collaborative nature of public history projects. "The podcast project was a true example of learning the practice of public history from the inside-out. We were, by intention and design, faced with a great challenge, especially at the undergraduate level. In addition to mastering material and information for the podcast content, we had to juggle the schedules and personalities of our group members, knowing that individual efforts would reflect on the entire group." (Mary Roll '12)
Check out links to the podcasts below!
From Behind the Lines of Retreat: Pennsylvania College During the Battle of Gettysburg
A Sharpshooter's Tale: How Photography Distorted History at Devil's Den
Behind the Bunting: The 1913 Gettysburg Reunion
From Guns to Ginsburg: Gettysburg College in the 1960s
Professor Carmichael's Introduction to Public History class recently took a field trip to Fredericksburg, Virginia. There the students were exposed to public history in action. Paul Reber '82, the Director of Stratford Hall, interacted with our students, and discussed a range of interpretive and cultural resources and issues as they relate to the future of historic houses. He also spoke to the students about networking and other professional strategies in the field. As one class member explained, the trip "was beneficial to our class in particular because it allowed us an inside look at how museums and historic sites operate. It was a great opportunity for a behind-the-scenes view."
Cultural Resource Manager Eric Mink (Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Miltiary Park) also discussed issues of historic preservation and landscape rehabilitation at Marye's Heights and Sunken Road at the Fredericksburg battlefield (photo at right).
Chief Historian John Hennessy (left) of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park took the students on a tour through downtown Fredericksburg, and showed the group a block that is reported to have been used in the selling of enslaved people in Virginia.
The students in the class agreed that trip gave them a newfound sense of the possibilities in the field of public history. One member of the class described how the Fredericksburg trip gave him "a good sense of how many opportunities there are in the field of public history. You don't just have to work in a museum." And another observed how working in the history field required far more than just a love of the past. "What struck me most," she recalled after the trip, "is that being a museum professional means so much more than exhibits and collections. The museum world is as much about diplomacy as it is about history."
Check out the video below of Gettysburg College alum Paul Reber '82 describing his career path in history, and hear his advice for Gettysburg College students interested in careers in history!