Michael Garside, Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, 2019
During my spring semester at Colorado State University, I had the privilege of working as an intern for the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery(FCMOD). I was tasked to work for the archive team and assist on projects that would prove crucial for the organization. At first I was a bit nervous as I had not had any experience in applying my knowledge of history in a career field. However, my nerves soon settled as I worked on a series of five projects for the museum: Open Stage Theatre, Inventory organization, Althea Williams, Postcards, and Mary Hottel’s journals.
These were all fun projects each coming with their own challenges and secrets. For the Althea Williams collection, I was able to learn plenty about the history of the Colonel. She had served in three wars as a nurse these being World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam war. These are the types of people that I loved reading about in history textbooks and was thankful that I could learn about this local hero. Her collection included a lot of interesting pieces such as her ID cards during the wars, a list of certificates, her uniform from the wars, and photo albums. All of these primary pieces of evidence provided insight to Althea’s complex and interesting life. One of the most interesting pieces of Althea’s collection are a set of letters in which she fights Columbia Pictures and actress Sally Field over a planned production of a movie called Home before Morning. In this section, Althea kept a good record of her correspondence between the studio and herself. Eventually she won her argument thus Columbia Pictures never created the film. While I would love to discuss all of these items in detail, I would well exceed the typical blog post format and ruin all the fun for you. If you would like to learn more about the life and history of Althea Williams I would suggest that you visit the FCMOD for their presentation on women’s history in June or view Althea’s collection in the archive. Provided is a link to Althea’s finding aid: http://database.history.fcgov.com/cdm/ref/collection/sc/id/3721.
When I moved on to the postcard collection, I was interested to see how postcards had evolved over time. To my disappointment, many of the postcards looked much the same as today’s postcards. However, I was able to gain a lot of insight about Fort Collins History along with some quirky facts about Colorado State University. For example, many of us have probably observed the trolley tracks that run through Mountain Avenue in Old Town but how many knew that Fort Collins still gives trolley tours during the summer? Well if you did not, now you do and this year you should go as it is the trolley’s 100 year anniversary! As well, I also learned that Colorado State used to host what was known as College Day Parades celebrating the end of another school year at the University. Did you also know that the campus once had a bowling alley in the Lory Student Center? Or that the police department used to be an all-woman’s dorm known as Green Hall? Pretty cool huh? I only learned about this while working on the collection for two weeks imagine what else you could find within the Archives at the museum!
My last project that I was able to work on was transcribing the journal of Mary E. Hottel who was the daughter of the first millionaire in Fort Collins Benjamin Hottel. She had what many of us would consider a normal life now, however, back in Mary’s time she was always going on “dandy spins” or eating sundaes with the girls and strolling around the Business District of Fort Collins a.k.a Old Town. She even kept a chap book which rated each man she dated with a description to go along with them.
What I hope you gained from my post is that the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is an amazing place to visit and get lost in. It is an underused resource in my opinion and can also be a fun place to enjoy. Feel free to take a stop at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery located on 408 Mason Ct open every day of the week.
Ann Gebo, U.S. National Archives, 2019
At the National Archives I worked in the reference department, meaning I was helping researchers. In particular, I was an intern for the Navy team, working primarily with Naval records. I helped researchers who came into the archives pull deck logs (day to day records logging the location of a ship) for different Navy vessels. I also answered letters from researchers who had inquired about the types of records held by the National Archives. These experiences showed me how history and records can help people because I was writing back to Vietnam veterans who needed information from deck logs to support different veterans’ benefits claims they were making. I never really thought of history as a field that was concerned with helping people, but it was truly a privilege to be a part of that.
I want to be an archivist so obviously this internship is extremely relevant to my future prospects and a way for me to “get my foot in the door” because my dream job is at the National Archives. Having the opportunity to see how an archive works is not only helpful to me in terms of future job prospects and gaining hands on experience, but also as a history major we tend to do a lot of research, and understanding the process of how those records are taken care of and made available to us is extremely valuable.
Nicholas Unsell, American Battle and Monuments Commission, 2019
During the summer I was granted the opportunity to work as an intern at the American Battle and Monuments Commission (ABMC) located in Paris, France. The ABMC is a federal agency whose mission is to operate and maintain American military cemeteries and monuments overseas that honor those who died fighting in World War I and World War II. Two of the highlights of my internship were opportunities to attend the Lafayette-Escadrille Memorial Day ceremony and the 75th D-Day celebration. The Lafayette-Escadrille Memorial commemorates the American pilots that flew under French command during World War I. The D-Day celebration marked the 75th anniversary of the landing of allied troops on the beaches of Normandy, and the beginning of the end of the Nazi domination of Europe. My day to day duties during the internship were extremely varied and including learning about the history and organization of the ABMC, processing budget requests for maintenance and operation of the cemeteries/memorials, and learning to catalogue and handle historic artifacts. On one occasion, I was allowed to measure and catalogue the desk used by General John Pershing, the commander of American troops during World War I. My internship provided great insight into various jobs available in the field of history that I was previously unaware of, and the experience of living in Paris for a summer was amazing.
Heidi Fuhrman, 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.
Leslie Moore, Greater Portland Landmarks, 2019
I spent my summer interning at Greater Portland Landmarks in Portland, Maine. The local nonprofit hired four graduate-student interns to survey two neighborhoods in the city that will be impacted by rising sea levels. This climate change survey was the first of its kind in the state!
For each building (over 900 combined) we noted characteristics that made the historic property vulnerable to climate change. For example, we recorded whether a building had low utility meters that could flood, fire escapes that could be blown off in a storm, or any living spaces in basements. We also completed historic structure forms for each building to be added to the state historic preservation office’s database. Greater Portland Landmarks will use the information to provide recommendations to property owners on how to make their historic properties more resilient to a changing climate.
Portland, like a lot of coastal cities, is increasingly concerned about rising sea levels. We spoke with a lot of property-owners who were curious to hear about our work and wanted to share their personal concerns. Two local news channels also covered the project! As part of my internship, I participated in an informational workshop about rising sea levels and attended the launch of the city’s new climate action plan.
It was amazing to use my historic preservation skills to contribute to Portland’s preparations for climate change. Through one internship, I was able to simultaneously champion (and intertwine) two causes that I feel very passionately about.
Colin Fogerty, Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum, 2019
During the summer of 2019, I worked in an internship at the Little Thompson Valley Pioneer Museum in Berthoud Colorado. My work for the museum included a range of activities, such as cataloging early twentieth-century kitchenware by inputting information about them into the program PastPerfect and taking photographs of them. In addition, I assisted in the set up and clean up of public concerts and fundraisers hosted by the museum. On occasion we needed to rearrange display cases and artifacts for a change of exhibits and assembled new cabinets so that more artifacts could be on display. By the end of the summer I had learned a great deal about the work done in museums and found myself all the more eager to keep learning.
Eric Newcombe, Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, 2019
This summer I was a summer staff intern with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office in Salem, OR. Through this incredible opportunity I was able to gain experience with multiple different aspects of historic preservation including the preserving the built environment, archaeology, technical preservation, community outreach, grant programs and the Main Street program. I traveled around the state to different communities and towns to learn about how Oregon utilizes their historic resources for tourism, community benefit and the preservation of their identity. I was able to work on and complete a survey of a coastal town and present my findings to their city council, contribute to a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places and write a case study for why heritage tourism works for the city of Astoria, OR. This was an invaluable opportunity and the experience that I gained will change not only my career, but my life for the better.
Jason Caskey, Loveland Historical Society, 2018
I had the privilege of serving my internship through the Loveland Historical Society over the summer of 2018. The thought of working for the Loveland Historical Society intrigued me primarily because I was a new resident to the city, and the Society seemed to have an intimate localized focus on the history of Loveland. Being a non-traditional student, I was unsure how an internship would fit into my life. With the support of my faculty advisor, Dr. Sarah Payne, I was encouraged to explore the prospect. It was a unique opportunity for both parties as I was the first intern in the history of the Loveland Historical Society. My primary role within the Society was as a docent for the Milner/Schwarz Farmhouse located off Railroad Avenue in south-central Loveland. As a member of the National Register for Historic Places, The Milner/Schwarz farmhouse was built in 1873 and is the oldest standing brick house in Larimer County. Right away I felt very welcome from every member of the board and fit in well with the other members of the docent team. Being a part of the Loveland Historical Society is like being a part of a family of people eager about local history. The experience has opened my eyes to an entirely new perspective on history. Often, history can seem like a vast and open subject pertaining to large cultural and societal events. Organizations like the Loveland Historical Society demonstrate that history affects us all. It is an important aspect of being part of humanity. My time with the Society has also opened up opportunities to further my involvement within the historical community. I have joined the Loveland Historical Society as a member with the potential to one day serve on the board. As I reflect on my time as a docent over this past summer, I will take with me the many times I was a student, learning the history of not only the Milner/Schwarz house but the many neighboring houses and the history of Loveland as a whole from the mouths of those much wiser and experienced than I. I am grateful for the opportunities that attending Colorado State University has afforded me. CSU and Northern Colorado are truly special places.
Dustin Clark, Yellowstone National Park, 2017
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.
Kylee Cole, City of Fort Collins' Historic Preservation Division, 2018
During the summer of 2018 I had the privilege to work at the City of Fort Collins’ Historic Preservation Division. My advisor Dr. Sarah Payne introduced me to Maren Bzdek who served as my supervisor during my internship and quickly became a valuable friend and mentor. From June to August, my weekdays brimmed with city meetings, trips to the archive, and assisting with local preservation-related projects. I completed drafts of local landmark designations and national register nominations, and learned how historic preservation works at a local level.
Coming into this internship I knew what history and preservation meant to me, but I always felt defensive and awkward trying to justify what I wanted to do to those outside of my field. I had a hard time expressing why preservation should matter to everyone and couldn’t find the words to explain that historic preservation was more than just old buildings. Two projects I worked on this summer gave me fuel to explain the importance of historic preservation.
The first was an oral history with a former Fort Collins business owner to preserve information about relatively recent changes to the business’s complex near Old Town. At the conclusion of the interview, through sniffles she thanked me for caring enough to record her story.
The second project involved preparing a Local Landmark Designation for a home on Mountain Avenue. I worked closely with the homeowner to prepare the document and in early August presented my findings to the Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC). At the LPC meeting she gave a moving statement which outlined her transition from being a homeowner to a caretaker of a historic home. At that meeting the LPC recommended her property be designated as a local landmark. The next day I arrived at work to find a bouquet of flowers at my desk with a thank you note.
Past the creaky floorboards, dusty windows, and antiquated craftsmanship of historic buildings lies the true importance of historic preservation: people, their stories, and their personal connections to a place.
Historic preservation can sometimes feel like an isolated field that the general public does not understand or appreciate. However, moments like these make it all worth it. When I felt I was ‘just doing my job’ these projects preserved people’s stories – that is something that matters.
Yani Jones, City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation Division, 2018
Kylee Cole, Dillon Maxwell, and I all interned for the City of Fort Collins Historic Preservation Division this summer, and, like all city employees, went through an orientation program. We met people from a range of departments, from utilities specialists to administrative personnel. Kylee and I even sat with the new police chief, Jeffrey Swoboda, who took the same training as us interns. Our orientation leader stressed the importance of teamwork and ensured that we understood our work was not compartmentalized but rather contributed to a larger whole. Activities, like the team scavenger hunt in which we familiarized ourselves with the integrated buildings of the Civic Center Subdistrict, underscored that point.
One of my tasks this summer was to write a history of the Farm at Lee Martinez Park. In addition to working with the Preservation staff and my fellow interns, I collaborated with Recreation staff and contacted a number of local historians. I created a kid-friendly infographic and map of the site as well as an in-depth history. Few reference materials existed for this project, which necessitated creative research relying largely on historic newspaper articles and genealogical records. As part of this project, in August, I got to see the Ross Proving-Up House move to its new home in the Farm’s Outdoor Museum, an exciting event to experience and to work into the site history. I hope my report helps any future researchers and that my infographic makes some visitors smile.
I wrapped up my internship by presenting an item for local landmark designation to the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission. I created a presentation to convey my findings regarding eligibility of 707 W Mountain for landmark status. I argued that the house was significant for its embodiment of Dutch Colonial Revival Style, and design by architect Montezuma Fuller, and for its association with Jim Reidhead, a community member active in development and preservation. Presenting before a government commission certainly got my color up but having the rest of the department there to support me bolstered my confidence. Throughout this process, I worked with the property owner, Donna Reidhead. She clearly cared about historic preservation on both a community and personal level, her husband, Jim, being an integral part of the property’s significance; seeing that kind of enthusiasm in a non-academic context made a lasting impression on me.
Amy Hootman, Greeley Historic Preservation Office, 2018
My name is Amy Hootman, and I interned with the Greeley Historic Preservation Office in the summer of 2018. After meeting with my faculty advisor, Dr. Payne, about potential internship ideas, I decided to contact the city’s Historic Preservation Specialist to apply. During my time as an intern, I assisted the Historic Preservation Specialist by surveying historic properties in Greeley, including conducting research and collecting documentation on the historical background. My largest project was an architectural survey form for a local residential property, which involved taking photographs of the home and associated buildings, writing a detailed architectural description, researching its previous homeowners at the city’s archives, and looking at its geographic information and construction history. With this information in mind, I then assessed the property’s eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places, the State Register, or the Local Register based on the necessary criteria for each. In addition to this project, I also researched and surveyed a number of other properties in Greeley, drafted the text for plaques for properties on the Greeley Register, and wrote up Certificate of Approval letters for roof replacements.
While working as an intern, I was able to attend a number of events and meetings related to historic preservation in Greeley. In addition to weekly meetings with the city’s Planning Department and other event-related meetings with the Historic Preservation Specialist, I also attended a Downtown Development Authority meeting, a Planning Commission meeting, and a Historic Preservation Commission meeting. Other events I attended include a historic building walking tour in downtown Greeley, a few history brown bag events, and a tour of the Weld County Courthouse. Towards the end of my internship, I had the opportunity to meet with a local historic property owner in Greeley who was also the chair of the Historic Preservation Commission. We discussed her family’s history, the history of her property and its construction, her work on the physical preservation of her home, and her experiences serving on the commission. During my last week, I met with both the Museums Director and the Curator of Collections at the Greeley History Museum to discuss the operation of the museum and careers in public history. Such experiences are instrumental in my development as a public historian and have solidified my interest in a career in historic preservation.
Dillon Maxwell, City of Fort Collins, 2018
At the beginning of summer, I knew nothing about water treatment or bats. I didn’t even think those things could be related or even tied together by historic preservation. But, by the end of the summer that all changed.
My internship with the City of Fort Collins centered on the preservation side of a project at Water Treatment Plant No. 1 in the Poudre Canyon. Not only did this internship help me develop professional preservation skills, but it also allowed me to provide a historic perspective to an interdisciplinary project. I worked with folks ranging from wildlife biologists to construction managers. Working on this project challenged me to think outside of the box and into other areas I never would have expected.
The project site was the first water treatment plant in Fort Collins. Built in 1910 as a response to a typhoid epidemic and growing population, Water Treatment Plant No. 1 served the Fort Collins community for 77 years. The plant is no longer in use, but that does not mean it is vacant. Little brown bats roosted in one of the sections of the filtering buildings. This posed an interesting challenge in exploring options of preserving a cultural resource while also thinking about how to conserve wildlife. It really opened me up to how many different stakeholders, both human and non-human, have a stake in preservation projects.
My days consisted of researching, filling out survey forms, fieldwork, and preparing grants. That side of the project provided me with professional preservation experience. The presence of the bats pushed me to think creatively about how to manage a cultural resource that held a natural resource within it. Working on an interdisciplinary team challenged me to look at different perspectives while also empowering me by allowing me to bring my expertise in preservation to the project’s table.
A key take away this summer was the value of interdisciplinary work. Working in a settling like that pushes you to be open to different ideas and to see things from different perspectives. My advice to other historians in training is just that. Be open. You never know where it where it will end up taking you and what you will end up learning.
Kimberly Selinske, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, 2018
I interned at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum as part of the Curatorial department. The museum is located in Simi Valley, California, a location that lends itself to spacious gallery spaces that I helped to maintain and also is in the heart of wildfire territory, a lesson I learned on day 2 as all staff were trained on basic wildfire prevention. My daily work involved inventorying objects in the collection, researching photos with no background information, and working with the registrar and curator to better understand the various levels of cooperation necessary to keep such a large institution running. My favorite “chore” was cleaning the Oval Office display that has pieces of the real Oval Office floor from President Reagan’s time in office, along with a multitude of other artifacts. I had to wear medical booties and dust with a goatshair paintbrush, but it was fascinating to see all of the intricate details that go into museum displays.