From New Orleans to Port Hudson to plantation homes and the Rural Life Museum, Louisiana boasts a large number of historical sites where visitors can have a face-to-face encounter with the legacy of the state’s past. The Department of History now has an internship program in which students can share their love of history by volunteering at state historical sites, and earn course credit at the same time. Six undergraduate history majors broadened their experience in this way during the Spring 2014 semester, and enrollment is now open for the Fall. Internship sites include the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, West Baton Rouge Museum, Rosedown Plantation, Old State Capitol, Office of State Parks which has many sites, Evergreen Plantation, and Louisiana State Museums (numerous sites in Baton Rouge and in New Orleans).
Among the 2014 participants, History major Maria Guidry worked at the National Park Service’s Oakley Plantation, which gave her an opportunity to learn first-hand the history of the site (where noted naturalist John James Audubon worked on his famous “Birds of America” while employed as a tutor at the home). She worked as a guide/docent and in a number of roles to help the many visitors explore the history of the plantation. Her internship also gave her a chance to participate in the annual historical reenactment of the Battle of Port Hudson.
Requirements for the internship involve 90 work hours during the semester, confirmed by a mentor/supervisor, several meetings with the course instructor to report on the student’s experience, and a 10-15 page paper at the end evaluating the experience and what was learned. The internship program is part of the growing interest within the department in pursuing apsects of Public History. It has been coordinated with the assistance of LSU’s Olinde Career Center.