Internship Journal: Week Fourteen

This weekend I completed my required hours for my undergraduate internship. I will still continue to work at the park for the foreseeable future, as long as I am a student. But, I want to use this time to reflect on some I accomplishments and skills I have learned in this four month period of my spring semester.

First, I completed my research and outline for the 150th Anniversary Tour of Second Kernstown. This tour will be given on July 24th, exactly 150 years following the battle in 1864. I will lead visitors on a 90 minute interpretative hike and program through the battlefield, interpreting the battle and its consequences. During my internship, I conducted detailed research regarding the battle itself. There is not a standalone monograph on the battle, therefore I had to consult a plethora of sources. I pulled information from campaign histories, scholarly articles, newspapers, memoirs, official records and biographies to name a few. I applied my skills I learned from History 395 in consulting certain research databases, source analysis and compilation of sources. After my research was completed, I composed an outline for my program that stated my theme, had my tour stops and transitions. Following my outline I wrote an annotated bibliography. I did this for two reasons. One, so my supervisor can see the sources that I consulted in my research. Secondly, I did this for future rangers here at the park. If someone is going to do research on the Battle of Second Kernstown, they can consult this bibliography and use it as a jumping off point for further research.

I also met with the President of the Kernstown Battlefield Association, Gary Crawford numerous times. Initially, the first meeting was to discuss logistics, timing and to plan for the event. More recently, he brought me out to the battlefield itself and gave me detailed and in depth tour of Second Kernstown. This confirmed some of my research and made me more comfortable regarding my interpretation on the battle.

Looking south from Pritchard's Hill. Notice the stone wall in the trees, this is where the main Union line engaged the Confederate forces

Looking south from Pritchard’s Hill. Notice the stone wall in the trees, this is where the main Union line engaged the Confederate forces

In conclusion, after I did all the research and outline, I wrote an interpretative essay for Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP’s website. It was challenging because I had to be succinct and yet at the same time detailed in my writing. Once completed and proofread, I accessed the park’s website via CMS and uploaded the page myself. This was a great experience learning how to use web designing software and the intricacies that withholds as well. You can find the essay here.

Secondly, during my internship I was able to contribute to the park’s social media presence. I crafted Facebook posts and engaged with visitors virtually. One of the more successful posts was a modern picture I edited to have a historical image overlay it. This garnered numerous “likes” and shares. I enjoyed experimenting with images this way and hope to make some more headway with this during the summer.

Modern day picture of Belle Grove with a 1883 photograph overlapping

Modern day picture of Belle Grove with a 1883 photograph overlapping

One of the most fulfilling parts of being at the park is giving interpretative programs. I absolutely love this. Meeting visitors from across the country and educating them on the park’s resources is amazingly fulfilling. It is also rewarding when visitors comment to your supervisors about your effectiveness. In the last month my supervisor has received emails from visitors on my programs. One visitor remarked in part, “the enthusiasm of this highly knowledgeable guy who told the story of the battle in such a compelling way, that we felt transported back to the time of the battle.  It was fantastic! If Kyle is an indicator of the future of the NPS, it is in good hands.”

Besides conducting programs, I thoroughly enjoy interacting with visitors at our Visitor Contact Station. You never know what stories people will bring with them through that door. This weekend, a couple for Pittsburgh was visiting the park. Come to find out, their great-great grandfather had a house on the battlefield and were looking for it. Using a historical map produced by Jedediah Hotchkiss, I was able to show the couple where the house was on the battlefield. Unfortunately, the property is outside of the park’s boundaries. Since the majority of research material at the park is on its resources (inside park boundaries) I did not have a surplus of information. But, I was able to give them information on how to access the maps via Library of Congress and directions to where the site would be today. Unfortunately, I think that the property was located where the Carmeuse Limestone Quarry is today.

Hotchkiss map of Cedar Creek showing visitor's old family homestead known as Belle View

Hotchkiss map of Cedar Creek showing visitor’s old family homestead known as Belle View

Moving forward, I think I have learned numerous skills from History 395 I can apply here at my position. One of them is my analysis and collection of sources. Knowing how to look at a source from different angles proves immensely helpful, especially when dealing with soldier’s memoirs and autobiographies. I hope to continue to post regularly as the summer months are coming upon us. I have numerous interpretative projects in the works and look forward to sharing them.

Hours completed this week: 8

Total hours completed: 160

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