Congratulations to our Fall 2013 Graduates!

Congratulations to our Fall 2013 graduates:

Morgan Smith
Shannon McGinnis
Mary Kay Baker

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Archives Class Works With Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County

020This fall’s HIST 771 class (Archival Principles and Practice) continues a long standing service learning partnership with the HGSIC. Our partnership with the Historical and Genealogical Society of Indiana County, Pennsylvania (, allows students the opportunity to receive hands-on instruction in archival methods as they learn of and practice the public historian’s obligation to a community.

Students work with unprocessed collections provided by the HGSIC and housed in our public history lab. They receive instructions on archival theory and practice as they process their collection. To provide proper finding aids students are required to spend considerable time at the HGSIC conducting background research on their collection. In the process they interact with the director, numerous volunteers, and community members which comprise the bulk of the HGSIC’s patrons.


This partnership has fostered a spirit of civic engagement in our students. Though their work they build relationships with the HGSIC staff. Through their research, often guided by staff, they become personally connected not only to the collection, but to the community and its history. Students gain perspective into how a community engages its past, and who is often responsible for preserving, presenting and interpreting that past. They walk away with an appreciation of the public historian’s obligations – not only to the profession or their given job, but also to the community in which they reside.

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Spring 2014 Internship Placements

Joseph Labriola: Altoona Public Library

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Spring 2014 Course Offerings

HIST 503: Medieval Europe I, 400-1000
HIST 506: Early Modern Europe
HIST 541: The American Revolution
HIST 542: The Early Republic
HIST 551: Hist of Latin Amer,National Pd
HIST 601: History Seminar
HIST 614: Research Methods
HIST 698: Internship
HIST 771: Museum Studies

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Lynn Rice Takes Post at the Frick

Lynn Rice was recently hired as the Senior Visitor Service Representative, who works under the umbrella of the Visitor Service Department. This department works as the front line staff that greets visitors upon their arrival at the Frick in Point Breeze, Pittsburgh. This position focuses on providing visitors with the best experience possible. This position also is a Visitor Services point person for site scheduling and other departments within the museum which includes the membership, education, curatorial departments and The Café staff. Lynn’s daily responsibilities include the immediate supervision of the visitor services representatives, which involves assisting in the hiring process of VSRs, scheduling VSRs in accordance with the site-wide model, training VSRs in the various software systems, and membership services. This positiion was recently created and Lynn explained that she is “in a unique position to mold this position to fit the duties and staffing shifts over the coming months. I am honored and excited to accept this opportunity as my first full-time position in the museum field. I am gaining valuable experience to launch the beginning of my professional career.”

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Mary Kay Baker’s summer internship at the Westmoreland Museum of Art

Mary Kay Baker describes her summer as a curatorial intern at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg, PA:

As a curatorial intern at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, I was involved with the move of the entire museum from its former Main Street location to its current home at @rt 30 while the museum undergoes an expansion and renovation adding new gallery and storage space. One of my major projects for the move was the inventorying and packing of the curatorial library, a collection spanning over 1,500 books, to be placed in storage while the museum is at its temporary home. Because the museum was in such a state of transition and change, I was able to gain valuable skills and knew knowledge about working in an art museum, especially one that is undergoing major renovations, as several other major art museums throughout the country have done currently and in the past several years.

By working with the Collections Manager, the Registrar, and the Curator, I was able to learn not only about working in an art museum, but also about American art between the nineteenth century and today as well as proper art handling techniques and storage practices. Additionally, I was given research projects to help members of the Art Team better understand older objects from the collection that were being considered for deaccession to be sent to auction, specifically, a scale model of the RMS Queen Mary and a collection of toy trains.

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Shannon McGinnis Interns at Old Economy Village

Shannon McGinnisShannon McGinnis shares some thoughts on her summer internship experience:

This summer I interned at Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Old Economy Village is the third and final home of a German religious group called the Harmony Society. Since Old Economy is a smaller site, I was able to get to know the staff very well, which led me to see the full picture of what is involved with running a historical site.

I interned under the curator, which allowed me to focus my work with the site’s collections, exhibits, and archives, even though I did assist with many different jobs throughout the summer. Some of my jobs included moving, unpacking, inventorying, and cataloging objects; digitizing parts of the archives; and, completing research as it was needed.

My big project for the summer was researching, writing, and installing an alchemy exhibit entitled, “Finding Harmony between Science and Religion.” The entire exhibit was made in-house, which means that my partner and I created every text panel and picture with the aid of foam boards, a hot press, and a lot of time and patience.

Old Economy Village provided me with a wonderful, well-rounded internship experience. I gained skills and knowledge that I will be able to continue to expand in my graduate studies and in my future career as a public historian.

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Joseph Pearce Spends the Summer in Centre County

Joseph PearceJoseph Pearce spent his summer as an intern at the Centre County Library and Historical Museum. He notes:

As an intern at the Centre County Library and Historical Museum, my primary responsibilities included assisting patrons in their genealogical and local historic research, organizing historic photos in the Museum’s database, and scanning local documents for digitization. I also helped create displays for events that have been standing traditions in the area for several years, such as the Grange Fair and the Bellefonte Cruise.

Interning at this institution was a great experience. Not only did I get a better understanding of the profession I am striving for, but it was extremely fascinating learning about the region that I have lived in all my life. It was also great to learn how such a small museum can hold great value for a community as well as serve as an institution with a vast amount of resources.

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Morgan Smith interns in Northwest Pennsylvania Historical Societies

This summer Morgan Smith had the opportunity to intern at two different historical societies in northwestern Pennsylvania. Morgan speaks to her experiences at the Lawrence County and Mercer County historical societies:

At Lawrence County Historical Society, I assisted with a variety of projects. I organized many of the society’s files and records including family genealogies and cemetery books. I created databases to organize marriage licenses and Pennsylvania Engineering drawings. Furthermore, I sorted through many of the society’s objects and created searchable accession records. However, my biggest project involved converting cassette tapes into digital audio files.

The highlight of the internship was my involvement in creating the fireworks exhibit, which opened in July, and documented Lawrence County’s long tradition with pyrotechnics. I assisted in the decision making process in object selection, and was involved in mounting the exhibit. This experience taught me that anything can be done professionally if people take the time and effort to properly create it even though the Lawrence County Historical Society is strictly volunteer and operate on a limited budget they are still able to produce quality exhibits and research.

At the Mercer County Historical Society, I was involved with two main projects. One project entailed researching all of Mercer County for a Mercer County Gazetteer. This involved combing through records for the townships, boroughs, cities, historic places, post offices, cemeteries, and waterways of Mercer County.

The other project provided me with insight into the fundraising efforts of historical societies. I assisted with the society’s 3-1-1 campaign. This campaign asked for donations for the historical society where every five dollars that is donated is split: three dollars go toward repairing and replacing items in the facility, one dollar goes toward maintaining and expanding public programs, and the last dollar goes toward the society’s endowment. I learned about donor cultivation, direct marketing and community relations.

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Megan Sheesley at Westmoreland Museum of Art

Megan Sheesley (F ’10) was recently hired at the Assistant to the Director at the Westmoreland Museum of Art in Greensburg, PA. In her position Megan is responsible for multiple tasks including assisting with donor cultivation, events, and miscellaneous projects around the museum as they arise. At present she is involved with the museum’s major renovation and expansion project. She coordinated the museum’s move to its temporary location on Route 30, and is currently working with the architects and contractors as they have entered the construction phase of the expansion and renovation projects. Megan is also involved with a new project called Bridging the Gap where the museum will be working with the Pittsburgh Office of Public Art and an artist to bring public art to Greensburg. More on this project can be found at:

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