Internship Journal: Week One

A requirement to graduate with a History Degree from James Madison University, is for each student to complete an internship in the field of history, known as History 340. I am fortunate enough that my duties at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP will qualify for this internship this spring. My internship adviser, Dr. Kevin Borg, has asked for me complete a weekly journal compiling the activities and hours completed for each week. I do not see a better outlet for this journal, than this blog. So, for the next 16 weeks, I will be chronicling my internship during the Spring 2014 weekly through these journal posts.

This week, I had a preliminary meeting with my supervisor and Chief of Interpretation at Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP, Eric Campbell. We discussed what my duties were going to be for the spring semester. I will be required to do my usual duties of, but not limited to; manning the Visitor Contact Station, working with the public on their concerns and queries, conducting interpretative programs, completing research for the park, creating written material to be used for the park and helping with special events. However, as the 150th Anniversary of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign nears us, the park is gearing up for special programming and events for the summer and fall of 2014.

Since 2011, the National Park Service has been running various sesquicentennial events to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP has been involved in many if not all anniversaries in the Shenandoah Valley from 2011-present. The NPS conducts “real time” programs on the same day, same time, 150 years later after battles, taking visitors through battlefields in guided programs exactly 150 years after the battle. During the summer of 2014 there will be numerous battles leading up to Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign. One of these is The 2nd Battle of Kernstown, on July 24th 2014. During my internship, I will be responsible for representing the Park and the NPS by leading a Special “On this Day” Tour of the battlefield. During my time, I will conduct all of the research, and develop an interpretative program. I will also prepare a written document of the battle, to be used and posted on the Parks website. For a full list of tentative sesquicentennial events in the Valley, click here.

During this meeting, Eric and I set up a meeting with the Director of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, Mr. Gary Crawford. The Kernstown Battlefield is not owned by the NPS, but rather by a private non-profit organization, the Kernstown Battlefield Association (KBA). We will be partnering with the association in planning and conducting this program on their land. Next Wednesday, January 22nd, Eric, Mr. Crawford and myself will sit down to discuss some of the logistics for my upcoming program on July 24th.

For my research, one of the first things I want to do, is compile all the source material I can about the battle itself. As I am not to familiar with the specifics of the battle, I reached out to some of my colleagues for some guidance on where to start. One person I instinctively contacted was my former professor, mentor and friend, Jonathan Noyalas. A professor at Lord Fairfax Commuinty College, Jonathan Noyalas is the most modern scholar on the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. He is the author of numerous books on battles from Cedar Creek to Fisher’s Hill, has written portions of Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP’s Historical Resource Study and has always been willing to help all the staff at our park. For a full bio click here.  I emailed Professor Noyalas about source material he may know about regarding the 2nd Battle of Kernstown. He responded by first saying that he wrote an article for the Winchester Frederick County Historical Society Journal on the battle and its impact on the community, he recommended I start there. Also, as he has given tours on this battle, so, he offered to take Eric and I out to the battlefield come spring to help compare notes and such.  I found his article in the WFCHS Journal in the park’s library and read it this week. It gave me a better understanding and orientation of the battle than I had before. But, more importantly, Noyalas’s notes and bibliography will help me locate more sources, especially primary sources for further research.

Lastly, Eric suggested that I begin to read Scott Patchan’s book entitled, Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. His book details the summer portion of the campaign and Early’s Raid to D.C.. I will pick this book up next week from our library and begin to read that for more context on the battle and a greater broad understanding.

This upcoming weekend, Friday January 24th-26th I will be manning the Visitor Contact Station. During this time I hope to dive straight into researching more about the battle.

Hours completed this week: 5 hours.

Total completed: 5 hours.

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