Earlier this semester, before COVID 19 prevented us all from gathering together to engage in service learning, our history majors engaged in a service project at Todd’s Inheritance. A historic house museum located near Edgemere in Baltimore County, Todd’s played an important role in the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812. Our role was, and continues to be, helping Todd’s Inheritance over the next several years develop a digital inventory of its artifacts and documents.

On most Friday mornings early in the semester, our majors spent hours at Todd’s engaging in the archival tasks of inventorying, accessioning, and documenting portions of the Todd’s Inheritance collection. Working with the small museum digital database system, PastPerfect 5, the same system our majors learn on at Stevenson, our student volunteers learned about inventorying, categorization, material assessment, building an accession number system, and item description. Each of those tasks is crucial to the role of curator, registrar, or archival technician in museums and archives around the world. The fact that our majors are gaining this experience through hands on learning is crucial to their preparation for working at various history venues upon graduation.

Caption: The kinds of experiences our history majors engage in while doing these service projects are crucial to their preparation for employment upon graduation. Caption: Professor Joe McGraw holds a letter from the White House dated from 1976 which is addressed to Mrs A Morris Todd of Queen Anne’s, Maryland.

Oddly enough, traditional history programs do not prepare their undergraduates for employment within the field upon graduation. Instead, their training prepares their majors for graduate school. At Stevenson we believe our majors are seeking employment after graduation as opposed to going straight to graduate school. Consequently, our program has an experiential focus. Our majors have multiple opportunities during their years at Stevenson to gain valuable skills and knowledge that can serve them immediately. Those skills and knowledge are further driven home through multiple opportunities to practice their craft as volunteers, interns, part time employees, and service learners. As a result, when our students interview for internships and paid positions they are in the enviable position of being able to point out to their employers the skills, knowledge, and experience they bring with them from Stevenson.