National Museum of American History, 2017
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave in the hands of this CSU Ram?
Heidi Fuhrman, a history major entering her senior year this fall, is spending her summer interning at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. As a Public Programs Intern, Fuhrman works in the Office of Audience Engagement facilitating various museum education programs (like the history of colonial chocolate making) and helping with public programming and special events.
On a daily basis, this involves a program called “flag folding” where museum staff involve visitors in unfolding a full-size replica of the Star Spangled Banner – the famous flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 and inspired Frances Scott Key to write the United States’ national anthem.
“There is something incredible in the moment when the entire two-story lobby is filled with Americans from all different backgrounds and beliefs singing our national anthem,” says Fuhrman. “Everyone is gathered around the massive flag and you realize that this country is made up of so many stories, and you literally cannot carry the symbol of our nation by yourself.”
Fuhrman credits the history department for preparing her with the skills she needs at the Smithsonian Institute. The department pushes undergraduates to do primary source research which has been a crucial part of Fuhrman’s job as she is developing museum programming.
“Overall I think my degree has taught me a lot about how to look at history from different perspectives, communicate large ideas and concepts to individuals of different ages and backgrounds, and be a ‘good’ historian!” says Fuhrman.
Fuhrman’s love of history stemmed from her childhood. Her parents loved to road trip and would either take the family to historic sites around the country or listen to historic books in the car. She developed a love of stories and the power they have to change lives, society, and nations.
“I love the idea of helping to inspire people by showing them what others before them have done, or spurring them to action by sharing the stories of history, or challenging them to work for change by reminding them of some of the things we’d rather forget,” she says.
After graduation in 2018, Fuhrman will pursue work in public history through graduate school or additional internship experience.