Bucks Preservation students spend hundreds of hours a year engaged in a wide variety of activities in their local communities. But to earn the Preservation Certificate, students must also complete a semester-long capstone experience: the Internship in Historic Preservation. A hands-on field work experience, students actively participate in the planning and execution of a preservation project, incorporating project management methods and best practices.
Here is a sample of what some students have done:
Bristol Borough, Bristol, PA
When you read history, do you ever wonder what was left OUT? More attention is being paid to the stories shared through oral tradition. This ‘oral history’ supplements the written record and may even add new information to our understanding of people, places, and events.
From January 2010 to May 2011, I worked to develop the Bristol Oral History Initiative. Originating as a collaboration among the library, the historical society, and the high school, I helped to expand and implement “Bristol in World War II.” The project involved interviews, conducted by volunteers, of people living and working in Bristol Borough during the war as well as veterans who served on the front lines.
We told the story from two points of view- home and away- providing a balanced and more complete picture of what happened. By including volunteers and students, we were able to generate support from our local school personnel and Borough Council.
The final project was unveiled this June to a packed house at Riverside Theatre. Best of all, residents and researchers will be able to access these stories at the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library in Bristol as well as the Library of Congress.
Many communities and organizations focus on preserving their heritage by saving the buildings in their community. Why don’t we make more effort to preserve the oral histories in our community? Our residents feel proud of their experiences and the fact that we, as a community, consider their memories important enough to preserve.
Heritage Conservancy, Doylestown, PA
To explain my project with the Heritage Conservancy, I need to give you a little background. The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension publishes Fresh From Bucks County Farms: A Guide to Roadside Markets & “Pick Your Own” Farms. It is available free of charge at Bucks County libraries and on the internet. The 2010 guide contained a map and highlighted the products available for purchase at each farm stand.
The Conservancy wanted to partner with Extension to promote agricultural tourism, and hopefully profits, for these farmers, by including a picture and information about the historic sites visible from the farm stands. After visiting all 73 farms listed in the 2010 Guide, I determined which were eligible for inclusion in an expanded guide, then returned to take photographs. During the process, I had the privilege of meeting several owners to learn first-hand about the history of their farms to share in the guide.
Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust, Philadelphia, PA
Among its duties, the non-profit Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust provides structural restoration and preservation work for the structures in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park, one of the most significant urban parks in the nation.
During my time at the Trust, I worked on multiple rehabilitation projects. Among them, structural and “Dutchman” repairs and glass re-glazing for windows at the Stephen Girard House. At the Smith Memorial Playground, I constructed new bases and capitals for porch columns utilizing salvaged wood from an old local brewery. My last major project was to assist in the removal of shellac from the interior wood paneling of a tructure on the site. The entire project received an award from the state upon its completion.
The 1719 William Trent House Museum, Trenton, NJ
My objective was to create an archaeology curriculum directed towards third through fifth grade students that can be executed by the education coordinator and the docents at the William Trent House in Trenton. The archaeology curriculum will provide students with knowledge about the precise science of archaeology.
The curriculum incorporates the history of the Trent House (the summer home built by wealthy Philadelphia merchant William Trent, for whom the city is named) with a tour of the museum and archaeology activities relevant to the site. All evidence indicates that from at least 5,000 years ago, Native Americans regularly used the area around what is now known as the Trent House; stone tools, spear points, arrowheads and ceramics documenting their presence were all found during various archaeological investigations conducted by a local cultural resource management firm.
By teaching students the methodology of archaeology, this program will help them understand not only the procedures used to answer questions arising from archaeological discoveries but also how an archaeologist learns about people and cultures from the past.
Affectionately referred to as "Trenton's attic," the Trentoniana Collection is a unique assemblage of primary and secondary materials. Books/periodicals, manuscripts, ephemera, papers, artifacts, clippings, and photographs give unique insight into the history of the city and its citizens and have been fodder for more than 20 theses and dissertations and countless personal and professional research projects.
Rapidly changing technology, reduced funding, an evolving library patron base, and the application of business practices to non-profit and governmental agencies, however, require the Collection to justify future investment and "prove" its worth in ways it has never had to do in its 109 year history.
My internship involved producing a series of collection management policies that define the Collection and articulate its value. The work included a review of current library and Collection policies, conversations with management regarding library priorities, and research into best practices at archives, museums, and library special collections in New Jersey and cities of a similar population size. The resulting Mission, Purpose, and Vision Statements paired with Access, Acquisition, Accession, Deaccession, and Loan Policies help lay the foundation for future growth, outreach, and accessibility.
Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia, PA
For my internship, I wanted to gain experience in different aspects of archaeology, so when I was accepted as an intern at two institutions, I jumped at the chance to do both.
My major project with the Archaeology & Ethnology Bureau included researching a collection of objects, mostly bottles, that had been found but not properly recorded, meaning that we knew roughly where they had originated but did not have much other information about them. Despite a lack of data, I was able to link a fair percentage of the objects to businesses based in New Jersey, and Trenton more locally, as well as date them to between the last few decades of the 19th and first few decades of the 20th century.
Following my experience at the New Jersey State Museum, I worked with the archaeological laboratory at the Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia.
This lab is studying the finds from excavations performed before construction of the National Constitution Center. My time in the lab included processing, artifacts—washing, labeling, sorting, and mending to allow the lab's archaeologists to be better able to identify and analyze them. My major project there, however, was inventorying and reorganizing more than half of the soil samples from the site, which may be used in soil chemistry studies and screened for small and delicate remains such as plant matter.
Overall, these two internships gave me insight into different phases of the archaeological process— from the lab work that immediately follows an excavation to what it takes to maintain a repository of archaeological finds. They also certainly drove home for me the importance of excavating sites using proper archaeological procedures."
John Milner Associates, Inc. at the Snyder's Mill at French Creek
Pikeland Township, Chester County, PA
The French Creek Mills site on French Creek, in Pikeland Township (Chester County), PA, was selected by the Council of Safety of the Continental Congress as Pennsylvania’s only state owned and operated gun powder mill during the American Revolution in early 1776. The site continued to be used until the Crown Forces destroyed the gun factory and powder mill complex in September 1777 after the Battle of Brandywine. During the next 150 years, several mills were built to take advantage of the existing dam and mill race; the last standing survivor on this site is a linseed oil mill alleged to have been built on the foundation of one of the original mill buildings constructed during the time of the Continental Powder Works.
Unfortunately, attempts to place the Powder Mill site on the National Register of Historic Places have been unsuccessful.
The primary objective in my project was to work with team members of John Milner Associates, Inc. (JMA) to thoroughly research and document the existence of the Powder Mill/Gun Factory Complex and later industrial occupations. Phase two included applying for funding through grants in order to assist with additional archeological work, with restoration of the linseed oil mill, and with interpretive and self-guided exhibits at the mill site. So far, $7,000 has been received from the Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area and $42,000 from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.
Heritage Conservancy, Doylestown, PA
Old barns are difficult to date due to the lack of documentation on barn styles and farmers’ propensity to reuse materials from one barn when building another. The goal of my project was to identify barns with known construction dates so that they could be used to help identify other barns built during the same time period. My mentor for the project, Jeff Marshall of the Heritage Conservancy, provided a workbook that belonged to Joseph Overholt, a carpenter in upper Bucks County during the last half of the nineteenth century. The workbook contains the names of Overholt’s customers and sketches of their construction projects, some of which were barns.
Beginning with landowner atlases from the period, I located properties that Overholt potentially built a barn on, verified the existence of a barn by visiting the property and demonstrated by performing title searches that ownership during the relevant period was consistent with the information in the workbook. The existing barns were documented with photographs and sketches then compared to Overholt’s drawings. Although I could not unequivocally state that the six barns identified were the barns sketched in the workbook, I did make significant progress in locating potential properties of interest and eliminating many others. More barns remain to be identified before it can be determined if the workbook can be used as a barn dating tool.