On Saturday, March 29 the UofL History Department sponsored a field trip for graduate students to the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS). Whitney Todd and Tommy Scaggs organized the trip in cooperation with Dr. Lara Kelland. The field trip focused on public history. Whitney Todd and other KHS staff members led tours of collections storage facilities, education suite classrooms, the Old State Capitol, and the State Arsenal (now the Kentucky Military History Museum). Whitney has worked at KHS since 2012 and is now finishing her M.A. thesis, a study of Confederate General and Kentucky governor Simon Bolivar Buckner.
The trip lasted a full day and was an inspirational experience. The tours provided insight into major areas of museum practice and the design of public tours and exhibits. The trip also provided valuable opportunities to speak directly with museum professionals. The tour of the Old State Capitol was especially helpful from a museum education standpoint. Whitney shared information about the building and its history and discussed the creation of the tour and related activities, including a mock legislative vote and visual learning techniques. She led the group as if we were a typical school group, which allowed students to see get a sense of how school-age children experience the tour. Commentary on techniques used to engage students and visitors was especially interesting.
Overall, the trip exposed students to the workings of a large historical institution and real-world examples of interpretive and education programs. Several of the students who participated have an interest in museum education, and opportunities to network with professionals in the field are always valuable. Outings such as this trip provide the chance for public history students to see the theory in action and apply their classroom knowledge to the working world. They allow students to interact with public history professionals, see historic materials, and envision possibilities for professional employment.
— Katherine Morrison, M.A. candidate in history