Summer 2020: A Good Thing out of a Bad Time

With my interest in Public History and Interpretation, I was really excited to find a park to work for the summer after I got my Bachelors! Then 2020 hit, and every one of my plans went completely off the rails. Parks and museums closed, and there was really no chance of me getting to do what I had planned on doing. However! It hasn’t been a completely bad thing! This summer, I was actually able to do a remote internship for one of the most interesting parks! I worked for Andersonville National Historic Site! This is a park that I had dreamed of working at for a long time!

Image of the Andersonville Prison Camp as it looks today (NPS Photo)

Andersonville was the site of the largest Confederate run prisoner of war camp during the American Civil War! Today, the National Park Service operates the grounds of the prison site complete with monuments and a reconstructed stockade wall, the Andersonville National Cemetery, and the National Prisoner of War Museum is located there as well. So this site tells the story of not only the Civil War soldiers who lived and died in the prison camp, but it also serves as a place to tell the stories of all American prisoners of war.

While working for Andersonville NHS, I was largely doing 508 Compliance, or making sure that the digital media that the park offers was accessible to those with limited abilities. So I captioned videos, added audio descriptions, and created alternative text. But I was also given the opportunity to write interpretive media! I was able to write weekly Twitter polls as well as informative social media posts that focused on relevant topics! If you would like to check out one of the topics that I wrote about, click here!

“Near Andersonville” by Winslow Homer (Wikimedia Commons Photo)

The stories that I was able to bring to light through my work at Andersonville were moving and really helped inspire me to rethink the way that I was looking at the past. Looking at modern issues through historic events can open your eyes to a world you never considered. The work that I was able to do with accessibility also helped me to be more thoughtful to my presentation of materials. Not everyone has the same level of ability to view and understand things.

I really enjoyed the work that I was able to do with Andersonville National Historic Site, and although this wasn’t the plan I had for this summer, I feel that it has helped me out in exponential ways. So don’t be afraid to try a new experience or step outside the plan you made! You might just find something you love!

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