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RWelker
01-21-2008, 04:02 AM
I have just finished applying to colleges (I'm now praying to be accepted to Mary Washington) and would like to pursue a major in Historical Preservation. History has been a passion all my life and I would love to spend my adult life involved in educating others and preserving the history that I love- as you may have guessed, my dream job would focus on the Civil War.

So I was wondering, does anyone have experience with this field? Could anyone tell me what kinds of classes a Historical Preservation major takes? What sort of job opportunities would be available with this degree (probably with a double major in English)?

Che
01-21-2008, 09:52 AM
History has been a passion all my life and I would love to spend my adult life involved in educating others and preserving the history that I love- as you may have guessed, my dream job would focus on the Civil War. Well, if you get into Mary Washington you'll be in Fredericksburg, VA. I would suggest that if you are accepted you immediately contact the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania Nat'l Military Park and ask them what kind of intern programs they may offer in preservation and/or interpretation for undergrads. An internship with the NPS will give you practical hands-on knowledge and will look good on a resume once you graduate and start looking for that illusive thing called work.


What sort of job opportunities would be available with this degree (probably with a double major in English)? Museum currator. NPS historical/culteral interpreter. Teacher. Even a handyman. I got a 72-year old outhouse in my backyard that needs some serious preservation work done to it. I'd pay you to put a new roof on it as long as can quote long passages from Moby-D1ck while driving those nails. :wink:

firstmdes
01-21-2008, 12:39 PM
I would suggest that if you are accepted you immediately contact the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania Nat'l Military Park and ask them what kind of intern programs they may offer in preservation and/or interpretation for undergrads.

I agree with Che in reference to contacting the Military Park for an internship. Getting a foot in the door at the NPS is a great thing to do. It will open far more doors that way. I kick myself for not doing so when I was an undergrad. The Federal application process is a bear to get through and having previous experience and NPS references is a definite help. If they do not give you an internship during your first year, try to get a part-time job with the NPS. Take tickets at the visitor center or whatever it takes to get in the door.

As to what you can do once you have the degree, there are many possibilities. In addition to what Che wrote, there are artifact handlers, archivists, interpreters, conservationists and more. As you start working through your undergrad degree, think about graduate work too. A Bachelors in history is good, but lots of people have those. You may want to go right into the Masters program upon graduation.

Study hard and get lots of experience in many different areas of history (museum, archives, etc.) to better understand what you may want to do professionally.

Good luck!

Dignann
01-21-2008, 01:46 PM
As a graduate of the Historic Preservation program at Mary Washington, I can tell you that the classes they offer give a nice cross-section of various areas within the preservation field. There are classes on historical archaeology, historic architecture, museum science, preservation law, etc.

I'm sure you've done it, but just in case you have not, check out the department's website for info and class offerings -- www.umw.edu/cas/historicpreservation/

It's a very good program and NPS battlefields are full of graduates of this program. Good luck.

Eric

dustyswb
01-22-2008, 02:04 AM
I echo Eric's sentiments on the UMW Historic Preservation program. To be quite frank, I enjoyed it so much, I didn't find it very difficult. I now work at the National Gallery of Art in DC as an accountant, but the Gallery has several MWC grads in positions, including one of our Exhibitons Officers.

Good luck with your application.

MWC Class of 1987

RWelker
03-28-2008, 05:02 AM
I know this is old, but... Acceptance letters have finally come in and I'm officially going to Mary Washington to study Historic Preservation! '
As I believe I haven't said it yet, thank you to those of you who responded and gave me such good information and advice.

Charles Weathers
03-28-2008, 05:57 AM
Congratulations! Museum work is very fullfilling and a lot of fun, too! The advice above is excellent. I would also add to take classes for a museum certificate if available. And in addition to internships, volunteer in many different areas of preservation work. Find the niche that works for you. It may be different than you originally planned. Good luck! ;)

Spinster
03-28-2008, 10:27 AM
Congratulations!

Look also to the sideline of period trades, and adding those skills to your portfolio. We've laughed a good deal lately at the fact that Darling Daughter, after 4 years of undergraduate work (yep, History and English) and several more year for a Master's in Public History is once again doing the job she did at age 14---running a spinning wheel, and smiling nice for the tourists.

RWelker
03-29-2008, 08:21 AM
Congratulations!

Look also to the sideline of period trades, and adding those skills to your portfolio. We've laughed a good deal lately at the fact that Darling Daughter, after 4 years of undergraduate work (yep, History and English) and several more year for a Master's in Public History is once again doing the job she did at age 14---running a spinning wheel, and smiling nice for the tourists.

How did she get that job? It sounds like fun!

firstmdes
03-29-2008, 10:13 AM
Congratulations on getting into Mary Washington!

Just remember, a good school does not mean everything. Intern, volunteer and learn as much as you can related to what you hope to do in the future. Try a variety of things to get a better idea of what you might like. I worked in libraries (public and university) for a few years, switched to archives and settled into the museum world. My current job covers all three worlds as I am a Curator of Archives and I get to deal with books, archival material and museum-related responsibilities.

Good luck!

Spinster
03-29-2008, 03:14 PM
How did she get that job? It sounds like fun!

She began spinning on a wheel at about age 14. Like any wise parent, I packed her off to apprentice under someone else. For a good period of time, she spun, while I talked and ran dyepots. By the time she was a junior in high school, she could run her own talk without assistance, unless some one asked something really obscure.

Her college was close to a historical village of sorts. I say 'of sorts' as it was a modern construction, with grant based programming designed to teach American history and citizenship values. They were accustomed to hiring theatre majors and handing them a script, not hiring folks with some clue as to living history and how to do it. I had to give her several pep talks and send her back to them several times before she convinced them that they needed a history major with a spinning wheel. She spun, made candles, ran the gift shop and taught period dancing and games throughout her undergraduate years.

Her graduate work covered the typical Public History cirriculum--architechture, grant writing, preservation, archiving, cataloguing, case design, and on and on.......all the while she worked with a couple of house museums doing a variety of programming.

Once through, like most in her field, she's had to piece together jobs while located in an area rich in history. Just because the work is needed, doesn't mean those jobs get funded. So, she's working at a couple of historic homes--and when she is waiting for the tourists to come, she is knitting with some of my period dyed yarns (that's how all these sleeping hats I sell get made).

A master weaver from another site noticed the indigo stain on her fingers, asked a few questions, and invited her over to visit. She asked her to try one of their wheels, watched her closely, and called her the next week to come in and start spinning at that site.

So, that's three jobs she's working. Plus knitting for Mama so we can keep her health insurance paid. Interesting work--but nobody ever said it was lucrative.