This blog will function as a sounding board for thoughts, ideas, projects and other such things for the Managing History/Public History course at Temple University (also possible are tangentially related, still appropriate but not official remarks regarding my related employment, depending what tickles my fancy).
My interest in public history stems from my work as a season ranger at Valley Forge National Historical Park, part of the NPS. Even though I am fairly low on the totem pole, I still am actively involved in the production and interpretation of history for the general park visiting public. I work within the Interpretive division meaning providing the visitor with information about what they are seeing in a meaningful and accessible way. Interpreting the park and the history of the American Revolution in an accessible way presents itself as a constant challenge. While the NPS has interpretive guidelines and the individual parks have missions within which to work, each ranger is responsible for developing individual programs tailored to and accessible to a wide range of audiences, knowledge bases and of course, interest levels. This needs to integrate the contemporary AND past academic historiography and interpretations with the goals of the NPS in a way that informs but also slightly challenges the public. I have grappled with this for every program I have written, which often are met with great appreciation and interest, but sometimes faced with the dreaded blank states. Despite being so engaged with practice of public history, I have no concrete definition, guidance or real idea of how what I do on a daily basis got to be what it is. Hopefully through this course work I can find those answers, as well as inform my own work through the varying interpretations, reading, projects and discussions we will engage.
NOTE: The opinions, statements, notes, etc mentioned in this blog regarding the NPS are NOT official NPS/Vafo policy unless noted through citation of the official NPS policy, either through direction to written documents or citation of electronic texts or websites. Discussion of policy will be extremely limited, but it will be objective, academic discussion which relates to my course work or which will positively enhance my academic or professional careers. This blog is written as a member of the public, not in any official capacity as an employee of the NPS.