What is Public History? I am always asked this question when I tell people I am a graduate student studying Public History. The National Council on Public History (NCPH) defines it as “history put to work,” which is what I did this summer at Yellowstone National Park (YNP). As a museum intern for the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center (HRC), I performed duties ranging from collection management to exhibit design. The preservation and interpretation of history delivered to the general public, in the form of exhibitions at museums, is a perfect example of exactly “what is” Public History.

If you are wondering how I landed an internship working for America’s oldest national park, really two reasons come to light, the Public Lands History Center (PLHC) and Dr. Sarah Payne. The PLHC provided this amazing internship through partnerships with national parks such as Yellowstone, granting me the ability to work under Curator, Colleen Curry at the HRC. While the center provided the opportunity, Dr. Payne delivered the guidance. As an advisor, she has always been there for me, not just for help with assignments, but for my future as a public historian. With the Center and Dr. Payne’s help, I fulfilled not only a requirement but a dream of mine to work for the National Park Service. My internship allowed me to “put history to work,” and I hope that I can continue this endeavor for many years to come.

I believe what was most meaningful to me working for Yellowstone through the PLHC was it brought a new found love of museums for me. While I am continuing CRM, I added Museum Studies because I loved working for the museum and can see myself pursuing a career as a curator.