Friday, September 9, 2016

Internship in a Regional Museum: Jackson, Missouri

Michael Cervantes explains his recent experience as an intern at the Cape County History Center in Jackson, Missouri. Michael is currently a Graduate student at Southeast Missouri State University in the Public History program, focusing in Latin American studies. Michael intends to pursue work in archives or museums upon graduation.

My internship was at the Cape County History Center in Jackson, Missouri. The internship took place during summer 2016, from May to August. The Cape Girardeau County History Center is administered and funded by the Cape Girardeau County Historical Society, and is supervised by Director Carla Jordan. The center displays historic exhibitions interpreting Cape Girardeau County’s history, and acts as an event/meeting facility for history related groups and functions. The center is held within a historically restored building on the National Register of Historic Places within the Historic District in uptown Jackson, Missouri.

The scope of my position as an intern was broad in nature. Some responsibilities included exhibit cleaning, exhibit setup and dissembling, and storage. On a weekly basis, I assisted in inventorying the gift shop, as well managed money for purchased items. I also aided Ms. Jordan with summer bus tours, and assisted tour visitors with historical and exhibit related questions. My project as an intern involved physically transplanting an archival library, including moving shelving and cataloging book/paper sources. I had the privilege of sitting in on informal meetings with the historical society and Jackson community members to discuss events and city planning. Last, I assisted during events, communicated with visitors and answered any questions, and kept the facility presentable by cleaning.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my summer internship experience at the Cape County History Center. Director Carla Jordan provided a professional learning experience that I hope to reflect back on when applying for employment after graduation. Under the guidance of Carla Jordan, I learned valued skills required when working in a regional museum. Perhaps the most valuable token gathered from having completed this internship is the knowledge of the sheer scope of a director’s position at a regional museum. The job requires a diverse collection of skills and abilities, many of which are not necessarily honed from having studied history. Duties in a position such as Jordan’s may include the following…: exhibit development and assembly, event planning, donation acquisition, marketing, public speaking, volunteer/employee management, as well as serving as a liaison between the historical society and community members.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Graduate Assistant in State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center

Currently, I am the graduate assistant for the history department in The State Historical Society of Missouri’s research center on Southeast Missouri State University’s campus in Cape Girardeau. I have been in this position since January 2015. It has been a very rewarding and enjoyable experience. Through this opportunity, I have had many experiences and made several contacts that will help me in my future career.

For me, the best parts include the daily routine of assisting researchers and working with the collections.  This experience will help my future career because it has given me hands-on experience.  It is always great to help a genealogist find a lost relative or a student with their research paper.  And assisting the center’s archivist with collections has given me the opportunity to prepare collections for researchers.  I have made important contacts in my role as the graduate assistant in this office.  For example, when Missouri Preservation had its 2015 conference in Cape Girardeau, I administered the State Historical Society’s exhibit table, meeting preservation professionals.  There have been several great experiences and learning opportunities here as well.  During my term as graduate assistant, the Historical Society hired an archivist for the Cape Girardeau center.  The center has evolved into a busy research center implementing standard archival procedures for existing collections.    

By having this job while I was in graduate school, I know when I apply for positions in the future I will have experiences and contacts that will help me.  The knowledge and hands-on experience I have gained in standard archival procedure and reference assistance have provided me with experience I can put on my resume.  This position has opened the door to my future career.     


Friday, August 26, 2016

Advanced Project in Window Restoration: Ste. Genevieve, Missouri

Hey, all! 
                I'm Whitney Tucker, a Graduate Assistant for the History Department at Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) completing my second year of graduate studies in Public History, Historic Preservation emphasis. I’m originally from a small town in Southeast Missouri, but I have lived all over the state. I was homeschooled my whole life and graduated high school at sixteen and had a Bachelor’s by 20. I took some time off to be with my wonderful son, but eventually came back. When it came to selecting a program, I knew that SEMO was exactly where I wanted to be. The reputation of the program here is well known and well respected. After talking with the Program Director, I knew there was no other University that could offer the high-quality, experiential learning that SEMO does. So here I am!
Whitney Tucker working on re-glazing historic window for
Felix Valle House and Mercantile (ca. 1818)

                Recently I completed an Advanced Project in Applied History in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri at the Felix Valle State Historic Site. This site has multiple homes, such as the Shaw House (ca.1819,) the Felix Valle House and Mercantile (ca. 1818,) and the Beauvais-Amoureux House (ca. 1792.) The Beauvais-Amoureux House is a French vertical log structure, known as poteaux-en-terre (post in the ground.) It  is one of three poteaux-en-terre in Ste. Genevieve, and one of five in the entire United States. As you can imagine, it was a huge opportunity (and responsibility) to work on some of the conservation work at this site. (To find out more about this awesome historic site visit Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources: )

                While at the Beauvais-Amoureux House I was able to work on more than a few hands on conservation projects.  The tasks I completed were wood repairs, window restoration, and glazing. While I completed various restoration work on the windows and shutters of both the Shaw and Felixe Valle houses, my primary project was completed at the Beauvais-Amoureux House. There I was solely responsible for the restoration of the windows and door.
Restoration and glazing completed on window
for historic Valle House (ca. 1818)

                The process for restoring the windows was intricate and time consuming, and required a great amount of patience. Additionally, I needed to have an understanding of wood and how the material ages, responds to water, and the best ways to preserve it. While my education at this point had provided me with the ability to research, document, and apply the Secretary of the Interiors Standard for Preservation, working in a hands-on manner with the state historic site allowed me the opportunity to further my education on the Standards for Rehabilitation.
Completed restoration and glazing on window
for historic Beauvais-Amoureux House (ca. 1792)

Learning to work with historic materials was one of the primary goals of my experience. In prior classes, such as Legal and Economic Principles of Historic Preservation and Historic Preservation Field School, we learned the significance of original historic windows. However, I gained a greater insight into why the original windows are so important. Additionally, my experience allowed me to understand the amount of work and gain the skills needed to for saving and restoring a historic window.

               While I now have the knowledge and ability to care for historic windows and wood, I have determined that when working with historic building materials, there is a vast amount I still need to learn. There is no one material that is more significant than another, as they all need care and maintenance in order to be able to preserve them for future generations.   

This was just one of the many opportunities for hands on learning that I have been able to take part in with SEMO. I look forward to a great many more!

An Internship in Historic Tax Credits: Macon, Georgia

Hi Everyone!

My name is Sara Doll and I am the new Historic Preservation Graduate Assistant.  I am originally from Southwest Kansas and a town that is probably smaller than most high schools.  I have two Bachelor degrees, one in History from Sterling College, Sterling KS and second one in Anthropology/Archaeology from Wichita State University, Wichita KS.  I am in my third semester here at SEMO working on my Masters in Public History with an Emphasis in Historic Preservation.  

I recently spent the summer working in Macon, GA at Historic Macon Foundation (HMF).  The main focus was over the exciting topic of tax credits!  Yes, I used the word exciting.  Most, myself included, would not classify tax credits as all that interesting of a topic, but after my internship there are few words to describe how fundamental tax credits can be to historic preservation.  Macon definitely had seen its better days during the mid-1900s but like a majority of cities it fell into decline and up until less than ten years ago
Macon was not the ideal city one wanted to live in.

Historic Macon Foundation
Sara Doll poses on the porch of a historic structure in Macon, Georgia
HMF is becoming a model for preservation in the nation.  They have helped to take commercial, industrial, and residential places from notices of demolition to places that are in high demand.  I was a part of seeing the process that each of these places underwent to become their final product.  Macon is made up of 14 historic districts listed on the National Register and currently working on a new one.  These district listings allow for tax credits to be used towards contributing buildings.  This is key to the success of HMF and their mission to “revitalize our community by preserving architecture and sharing history.”  They see the importance of constantly improving Macon and helped me to see that even if a neighborhood looks rundown and little hope that there is always a beacon of light. By beginning work in an area and showing the potential that the neighborhood has to offer is a great first step in revitalization.  However, it is not as easy as that sounded.  HMF is constantly in communication with the local businesses and colleges to create addition incentives to move into a place.  Not only will an individual get the tax credits but in most cases there are low income neighborhood incentives, down payment assistance, protection convents, and inclusive activities being a member of historic Macon.

During my internship, I was able to experience an array of projects dealing with tax credits and working with each step of the tax credit process in Georgia.  I was assigned my own project over a shotgun that would begin work within the next year.  My supervisor, Kim Campbell, at HMF helped guide me through the process and made sure to answer any questions or provide a different wording for Part 1 and 2.  We also put together information for an Industrial Tour with the hopes of printing a brochure this Fall.  There was extensive amount of research done between myself and my fellow intern over 23 individual properties and their history.  It really helped us learn about Macon’s past and we were able to share some new information with Maconites who had lived there their whole lives not knowing. 

Working with HMF was a great first-hand experience how historic preservation meets public history.  Even though many consider them to be the same, they each benefit from each other.  It was amazing to see how preserving the built environment could have such an impact on the community as a whole and flaming the spark that was started less than a decade ago.  

Friday, January 29, 2016

Jessica's Experience Assisting on a Missouri Historical Review Article

The “From the Stacks” article is an important part of the Missouri Historical Review; therefore, it was a very beneficial experience to assist with one as a graduate student in public history. As the graduate assistant in the State Historical Society’s research center on campus, I assisted the director of the Cape Girardeau center with the most recent “From the Stacks” article. This included assisting with the research and drafting of the piece. It was decided the topic should be about the society’s collections which could assist researchers in learning and interpreting Amy Husband Kimmel. As a professional, I was able to help with research and writing that communicated what materials the society has to offer researchers along with how this material could be useful to them.

Article citation: 

Nickell, Frank, and Jessica Cox. "From the Stacks Research Center-Cape Girardeau Amy Husband Kimmel and the Wednesday Club of Cape Girardeau." Missouri Historical Review 110, no. 2 (January 2016): 132-35.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Missouri Preservation Conference 2015 Hosted at Southeast Missouri State University

This past October, Southeast Missouri State University was honored to host the 2015 Missouri Preservation Conference. This annual gathering of historic preservation professionals was a complete success, benefiting attendees, the city of Cape Girardeau, and the University. From the 21st-23rd, preservationists from all over the state learned about new developments and innovations in the field and got hands on training on proper restoration techniques.

While most of the conference events took place in the University Center, there were also a variety of unique tours offered as well. One of the most popular tours was to the Elmwood Estate in southwest Cape Girardeau. This incredibly preserved and maintained historic home is a relic of early South East Missouri history.

Another highlight was the Keynote Address by David Brown, the Executive Vice President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In his speech, “The Past and Future of Preservation”, Mr. Brown spoke of the urgent need for historians to embrace both continuity and change in our approach to preservation of the built environment and saving the places that matter to both Missourians and the Nation.

Many SEMO history students took advantage of this opportunity, and found ways to volunteer at the conference. We all benefited greatly from this professional experience and had a ton of fun at the same time! 

All aboard the tour bus

Busy vendor area

Keynote Address from David Brown to kick off the conference

Elmwood Estate, a true architectural delight

Hands on historic wooden window repair

Legacy Awards Dinner: These one-time only awards honored the host city and people and organizations that have contributed to Cape Girardeau's preservation success story

Professional panel for students

SEMO students get involved

Tour of Cape Girardeau's Civil War forts

Typical conference session

Volunteer fun!

Volunteers working hard