This 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 (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~paicgs/), 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.