Life in the Land of Lincoln

picture of author with Abe and Mary Todd Lincoln reinactors


In the summer of 2008, I left home to partake in a wonderful opportunity. I spent nine adventuresome weeks in Springfield , Illinois at the Lincoln Home National Historic site researching Abraham Lincoln's hired help. Initially, I went into the project with perceptions about domestic labor and ethnic minorities in the mid nineteenth century. This experience gave me the chance to conduct a tremendous amount of primary research. I was able to handle documents such as marriage licenses and indentured servant contracts that have been preserved for over one hundred years. That was an experience that I will never forget. I gained valuable knowledge and insight into Abraham Lincoln and associated with scholars who are leaders in this subject. I also had the chance to learn the inner workings of a National Park Service site. These individuals are wonderful and work very hard to preserve, interpret and maintain some of the nation's most precious sites such as parks and historic homes.

After my time in Springfield, I spent three days in Washington, DC at a workshop and met the other interns, support staff, and individuals associated with cultural resources. I returned home with a new perspective on history. This experience has enlightened me on many of the opportunities that are available in my field. Additionally, this experience has encouraged me to continue my studies so I can do what is necessary to tell the stories that are threads in the great American fabric.- Camesha Scruggs, 2008 National Park Service Cultural Resources Diversity Program intern at Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois . Read Camesha's blog about the experience at http://www.meshasmusings.blogspot.com.

A Diversity Intern at Prince William Forest Park

Laurel Loop bridge in Prince William Forest Park


During the summer of 2008, I worked as a SCA/Cultural Resource Diversity Intern at Prince William Forest Park in Northern Virginia . I was tasked with organizing and planning a Cultural Heritage Trail that would showcase the legacy of an African American and racially mixed community (Batestown and Hickory Ridge) that thrived before the park was constructed in the 1930s. The aim of the project was to create a list of sites on the park that are reminders of these communities, such as the ruins of schools, churches, baptismal sites, homesteads, etc. and construct narratives that would detail and explain the significance of each site. I was able to do this by reviewing oral histories, conducting research, and consulting with past residents of Hickory Ridge.

One of the most wonderful aspects of my experience was unearthing information about communities that had seemingly been forgotten. Batestown, one of the earliest freed African American towns in Virginia , developed sometime before the Civil War, while the Hickory Ridge community emerged along side with the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine (south of Batestown) in 1898. Blacks and whites not only worked along side each other at Pyrite Mine, but coexisted in the Hickory Ridge together. However, land resettlement of the 1930s and 1940s displaced these residents from their original land. The presence of a freed black and mixed race mining towns are only two indicators of these very remarkable southern communities. I am proud to have assisted in a project that will remember and celebrate their legacies. - Colette Carmouche, 2008 National Park Service Cultural Resources Diversity Program intern at Prince William Forest, Virginia. http://www.nps.gov/history/crdi/internships/intrnCRDIP.htm