History Internship Program Prepares Historians for Emerging Public Sector Job Field
Dr. Patricia A. Hoskins

A new public history internship program at Limestone College is providing students with invaluable experience for a burgeoning career field.

"We often think of historians as teachers primarily but public history-such as working at historic battlefields and houses, in museums, and in archival libraries-is the sector that presents the most exciting career field for historians," said Dr. Patricia A. Hoskins, College Historian and Assistant Professor of History at Limestone.

Hoskins, who joined the Limestone faculty at the beginning of the 2010-2011 academic year, initiated the program as a way for history majors to sample the world of public history. "The public history internship is an ideal way for students to get their feet wet at the undergraduate level to see if public history really is the path for them. If it is, they have the advantage of knowing precisely what they want to do and are even better equipped to hone their skills at the graduate school level."

To establish the program, Hoskins secured partnerships with the Cowpens Battlefield and Kings Mountain National Parks, and the Cherokee Historical & Preservation Society (CHAPS), all three of which are within close proximity to the main Limestone campus. An affiliation was also established with the College's archival department.
Matthew Bumgardner '11

"I've been infatuated with history since my days as a student at Crest High School (Shelby, NC)," said history major Matthew Bumgardner '11 of Shelby and one of three students enrolled in the Limestone internship program. "When Dr. Hoskins advertised the internship program, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of it."

Bumgardner, who catalogs historical College materials in the College's archival department, explained that the internship at Limestone provides an even greater impact upon its students because of the proximity shared between the College and various historically significant sites. "The American Revolution is my favorite area of study, and the Battle of Cowpens-which is literally just up the road from the College-was one of the pivotal turning points of that war," he said.

Bumgardner also uses local history to illustrate the importance of preserving the traditions and heritage of societies that prevailed centuries before present day. "The Catawba Native American Tribe called Upstate South Carolina their home, but their culture has been nearly erased from the history books because we did not take the time and care to preserve their way of life. They were a different people who enjoyed a different culture, and it's amazing in a sad way that so little is known about them."

Billy Pennington, Director of CHAPS, sees Limestone's Public History Internship program as a win-win for the community and the students. "The program has been a tremendous opportunity for students to have a real-life work experience in the field that they obviously love and enjoy. It has also enabled the CHAPS museum to meet its mission of education in the community. This year, interns helped to organize, categorized and catalogue our vast collection of artifacts in the Museum's storage areas. Since the majority of assistance at the Museum is on a volunteer basis, it is a benefit to have students involved who are being trained in the field."