Ohio University Lancaster History Students Help Preserve Fairfield County’s Past
Lancaster – When Ohio University Lancaster History student Kady Wolfe was assigned to organize letters kept by a prominent Lancaster family written during the Civil War, officials at the Fairfield Heritage Association weren't sure what she would find. But they said she ended up finding a small historical gem.
"Kady found a letter written by Senator Thomas Ewing in September, 1864," said Fairfield Heritage Association Office Manager Mary Lawrence. "The letter talked about the fact that Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, who is from Lancaster, was awaiting further orders. It also discussed how men like Sherman from Ohio were really doing their part in the war effort."
Lawrence said organizing and digitizing documents that the association has in its possession is important work in the effort to preserve county history, but it often doesn't get done because employees are busy with other tasks. That's why she says a recently formed partnership with Ohio University Lancaster is so important. About a year ago, Lawrence worked with Assistant Professor of History Mark Nevin to put together a student internship program.
"The history internship is a great way for history students to gain valuable work experience in the history field and at the same time earn college credit towards their degrees," said Nevin.
"The students get a lot of experience because we treat them like staff," said Lawrence. "They digitize records, organize records, give tours if they want to and help with events that keep us running. It's not glamorous work, but it's what we have to do."
The internship is unpaid, and students typically work at the association about eight to ten hours a week. Lawrence said the interns bring fresh ideas and a modern perspective to a place that is by design steeped in the past.
"It brings young people into the museum," said Lawrence. "One of the things we struggle with is how do we get younger people involved. They give us young ideas."
Lawrence said the association would like to expand the partnership. She would like to see an Ohio University Lancaster student put together a research proposal.
"A research proposal by a student would be entertained because work like that benefits the both of us," said Lawrence.