(Pictured above: 2017 Nau Center intern Jane Winthrop at Fredericksburg National Battlefield Park)
2017 marked the second year of the Nau Center’s summer internship program. Partnering with Professor Lisa Goff’s Institute for Public History at the University of Virginia, the Center has been able to fund four public history internships for students considering employment at national parks, museums, or other historically-focused cultural institutions.
The Center again sent two interns to Civil War national park sites in Virginia. Fourth-year student Amelia Gilmer worked at the Richmond National Battlefield Park, gaining hands-on experience in interpreting Civil War history for park visitors. “Working for the Richmond National Battlefield Park has been an absolute dream,” Gilmer said in a mid-summer blog post she wrote for the Nau Center. During her internship, she worked with many guests at the park’s Historic Tredegar and Cold Harbor locations. Her second blog post, which will wrap up her summer experiences, will appear on our site next week.
The other national park intern was Jane Winthrop, a History and Global Studies double major, who graduated with the class of 2017 this past May. Winthrop enjoyed working at Fredericksburg National Battlefield Park, spending most of her time at the main visitor center, Innis House, or Chatham Manor. While she received standardized training prior to acting as a battlefield guide, she was encouraged “to provide [her] own interpretation of the facts, centered around a theme.” Whether developing her own unique tour of Fredericksburg, or helping visitors seeking more information about ancestors who were at the battle, Winthrop said, “I will cherish the memories made and lessons learned in Fredericksburg for many years to come.”
The Center also continued to sponsor an internship at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS). Third-year Classics major, Kira McBride, worked with archivist Mary Ann Mason to help process VHS’s historical collections. Through her work with hundreds of Civil War letters, McBride became very skilled at reading nineteenth-century handwriting, earning praise for her quick and accurate work. “She also put her research skills to great use and was able to create useful context for collection records,” said Mason. “Basically Kira was awesome.” For her part, McBride enjoyed learning about the war and Reconstruction from the perspective of individuals, especially women. “My knowledge of the Civil War has exponentially grown,” she said, “[And] I am beyond thankful for the new, invaluable perspectives given to me by this internship.”
Finally, Jane Diamond, a student in the History Department’s Distinguished Major Program, took on a brand new internship focusing on the Nau Center’s digital project Black Virginians in Blue. She helped the Center’s managing director update the project’s database and identify additional black soldiers from Albemarle County who served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the war. Diamond wrote a thoroughly-researched blog post about two Albemarle-born men who served in the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment. Our site will feature another one of Diamond’s research projects, an essay about freed Albemarle slaves who resettled in Pandenarium, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, later this fall. Diamond also spent time in UVA’s Special Collections Library reading room pouring over old student catalogues looking for UVA alumni who served in the Union Army.
The Nau Center looks forward to continuing these four internships and adding a new one examining Charlottesville’s Daughters of Zion Cemetery next summer. Please check the Institute for Public History’s website soon for information about applying for our 2018 summer internships.