The following is a reflection by Morgan Mangold on her internship in the Spring of 2012.
I believe an internship is the single most important experience one can have while in their undergraduate program. While we take classes to learn how to be a History major, an internship introduces us to the application of these skills in the “real world.” This spring semester I was given the opportunity to be an Intern with the Weems-Botts Museum in Dumfries, Virginia. Though it is a small museum, which could be seen as dilemma, it was in fact a major advantage. While other museum programs might place you with a single project for the entire semester, a smaller museum can integrate you into every aspect of the program. In my experience, the environment is one of a close-knit family in which everyone wants to see you succeed in your endeavors; much like our History Department. I have become a sort of “jack-of-all trades” with the help of Mrs. Joann Barron, the Director, who guided me during my entire semester at the Museum and has let me have a hand in every aspect of its operation.
The best part of having an internship is that, though you are expected to work a specific number of hours overall and achieve certain goals, the experience that you gain from it is really what you make of it. If you ask questions and insist on helping in any possible way on any task that comes up and more doors may be opened. During my time at Weems-Botts I did a historical interpretation from a diary of a young civilian girl from the Civil War. I participated in regular and ghost tours of the house and grounds as well. I learned more about collections management, historic preservation, and was given the opportunity to create two new displays of artifacts in four different cases, with well-researched storyboards included. I created, organized, and helped run a “Children’s Day at the Museum” in February to appeal to the local children to learn about the local history more. The publicity for an event each week, such as this, was something I got to learn about and create as well. Though I got to perform all of all of these jobs, oral history was the focus of my internship. The town historian of Dumfries, Mr. Lee Lansing, is currently 96 years old and is a wealth of knowledge. But, he had never been interviewed on only his life and how he came to love the Town so much; it was my responsibility to conduct this research. Through three sessions I met with Mr. Lansing and picked his brain on his own biography. At the end, Mrs. Barron had me write an article for “The Town Crier,” our monthly newsletter on my findings and transcribe all my recordings into a book for the Museum.
I could not have asked for a better Internship than the one I had at the Weems-Botts Museum. Along the way I have made an abundance of new connections and many friends. The skills I learned about the ins-and-outs of this small Historical Society and Museum are invaluable to my progress as an academic and a professional in the Museum Studies and Historical field. Though my time as an intern at the Museum is over, I plan on staying in touch with the staff and volunteering as often as possible.
Morgan Mangold (’12)