During this summer (2006) my fellow interns and I gained a greater appreciation for the National Park Service and for the previous generation of Americans that have called Harpers Ferry home. As a college senior, I had hardly learned enough about material culture of 19th Century, but here at the park, I have seen things that I would have never seen otherwise. As a summer intern it was my duty to discuss, show and interpret diverse parts of the material culture of the 19th Century.
With the help of the park staff I acquired the knowledge needed to tell the public about the history of Harpers Ferry. The most important help that I received as an intern came from my intern advisor, Melinda Day, who helped me develop my tour outline. Developing a tour showed me how to apply primary source research to “real world” situations. Giving the tour itself was a crash course in public speaking. Public speaking is the most important part of working for the NPS living history staff. As an NPS employee I feel that I learned several skills, such has judging what my audience is interested in, and, as a speech writer, I am better at writing about the intangible and tangible links in a given topic. As a result of learning these skills, I am a better and more articulate speaker.
I personally think that working here helped me grow intellectually as a person. The staff was very knowledgeable about the history of this town and they were very interested in learning more. Listening and interacting with visitors, whose knowledge of this town’s history usually varies, is interesting because visitors asked thought provoking questions. I thoroughly recommend an internship at Harpers Ferry to any student of history who is not quite certain what type of career he or she wants.