Like Willie Nelson and his tour bus, on Friday March 29th, the Stevenson Public History Program will be on the road again, this time visiting Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The focus of the trip will be on professional development as the majors learn about paths less followed in public history careers: sculpting battlefield monuments as well as starting a small business devoted to walking tours. Majors will meet internationally known sculptor Gary Casteel in the morning, and in the afternoon they will discuss history as a small business with Linda Mixter, President, Gettysburg Licensed Town Historians.
Caption: Professional sculptor Gary Casteel stands beside his life-size sculpture of an exhausted Civil War drummer boy asleep while leaning against his drum. (Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun)
After speaking with Gary at his studio, majors and faculty members will go with him onto the battlefield to learn the back stories of several monuments visitors often view.
Caption: Independent historians who formed a limited liability company (LLC) in order to do walking tours of the Town of Gettysburg.
While Stevenson PHIST majors are usually prepared for careers that may involve working at a museum, archive, or historic site, it is also important for them to know that there are many other public history paths they can follow based on their strengths and interests. Linda Mixter, President, Gettysburg Licensed Town Historians (GBLTH) has graciously agreed to speak with our majors about small businesses in the public history sector. In addition to describing the activities in which GBLTH is involved and the business pursuits of its member historians, she will also talk about forming a limited liability company, the tax and legal implications associated running a small business, and the business-end of engaging in a historic walking tour business.
The trip is part of HIST 100: History Forum, a required one-credit course every major has to take each semester. Forum meets once per month for about three hours on a Friday morning. During that time majors learn about career readiness (resumes, cover letters, job hunting), career opportunities (from alums and guest speakers), upcoming classes, reports by majors who have completed their internships, and what public history looks like on the road. Since forum meets on Friday mornings, we advise students not to take any other Friday classes. That leaves Fridays open for field trips. The field trips are at no cost to the student--transportation, meals, entry fees, gratuities, and other costs are picked up by the department. In the past, Forum has sponsored trips to places like Eastern State Penitentiary, the 18th Century Market Faire in Old Fort Frederick, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, and the National Electronics Museum. Forum trips are separate from the "History Mystery" field trips the program sponsors as well as the overnight excursions we try and take once per year.