By Karen | August 12, 2013
As the summer draws to a close, rather than packing all of my belongings to get ready to move in on Thursday, I have been providing security for the battle of Gettysburg, dancing with Civil War soldiers at a grand ball, and driving home in a hoop skirt. Yes, this summer I had the best internship I could have ever dreamed of, and as of today it has sadly come to an end.
Earlier this summer I blogged about my first week as an interpreter at Hale Farm and Village. At this point in the summer I can interpret almost any building in the museum and I’m pretty good at playing the 19th century game, three graces, as well. The summer has been a blast but nothing can top working Hale Farm’s biggest event of the season: Civil War weekend.
By Friday evening when we left work, Union soldiers had set up camp on our village green. These reenactors spend the weekend sleeping at Hale Farm in period appropriate tents and clothing, eating period foods cooked over an open flame and sleeping in cots on top of period appropriate rugs. The lengths they go to are amazing and as a History major, I was probably a little too thrilled with it all.
Saturday we had thousands of visitors. As soon as I finished telling one group about my building the next was walking in. At certain points of the day all I could hope to do was say hello and goodbye to each group that came through. But this summer I have learned excellent public speaking skills and I like to think they served me well. I even introduced myself to the Confederate sympathizers camped in front of my building and made friends by the end of the weekend- I never would have done this on day one!
At 2pm every day Hale Farm witnessed the first day of the battle of Gettysburg. I donned an orange security vest over my period dress (as I told many who commented on this garb, it’s a new fashion this year, 1863). Keeping children from running out into the battle proved to be stressful and one day we even had a runaway horse from the cavalry. I learned that people are short tempered on a hot day and really want to go wherever they are not allowed. I like to think I learned some more people skills here. But watching the battle was worth all the stress. The show these reenactors put on was amazing.
However the best part of this weekend was getting to hang out with my fellow interns and coworkers more than usual. My favorite days of this internship have been those where business is slower and we congregate on the village green for a few minutes to chat and talk about history. The people who work at Hale Farm make it what it is and I will miss them greatly.
Most civil war reenactments have a party afterwards for the reenactors camping out on site. This happened for us Saturday night in the form of a ball in the village. Attending this was a thrill. Hanging out with my fellow interns in hoop skirts, gossiping in the garden, and dancing with soldiers made me feel like I had stepped into a Jane Austen novel.
One favorite dance was called “Garfield.” This dance was essentially an exercise in musical chairs. There was one more gentleman than there were ladies on the dance floor and every time a whistle blew the men had to run to find a new partner. This went on until we were all exhausted and giggly watching the boys run about.
All silliness aside, this internship provided me so many great opportunities. I met great people and learned so much history by teaching others. I have made connections in the museum world that may aid me in a future job search and have gotten great career advice week after week at classes. And most importantly I got to wear a hoop skirt. I can’t wait for winter break so I can have the chance to become a volunteer and get back to Hale Farm! After this summer I would encourage any student of any field to find an internship and jump right in. You never know what you might experience.
Three Graces Picture:http://www.ushist.com/19th-century_toys-and-games_f.shtml
Pride and Prejudice Picture: http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/category/jeniffer-ehle/