In partnership with Lehman Library staff, Dr. Allen Dieterich-Ward has developed an exciting approach for introducing students to Public History through the development of museum-style exhibits as part of his survey course on U.S. History until 1877. Throughout the semester, groups of students are responsible for envisioning, researching, developing and presenting an exhibit related to course themes.
These displays are judged during the final week of classes by outside experts that have included historians (such as Steve Burg, Director of Shippensburg's Applied History Graduate Program), archivists (such as Karen Daniel of the Lehman Library), and museum curators (such as Karin Bohleke of the University Fashion Archives and Museum). Projects are divided into steps – Proposal, Outline, Rough Draft – with specific instructions based on the guidelines of various professional organizations, including National History Day.
Students have conducted research for the projects at the Shippensburg Historical Society, the Fashion Archives, and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine as well as through online databases and at the Lehman Library.
In addition to providing an important introduction to the field of Public History, the Museum Exhibit Project demonstrates a number of important pedagogical outcomes including increased student engagement with course themes, primary source analysis, and student self teaching. Because winning exhibits are then displayed in the library during exam week, this provides an important outreach opportunity to engage with the wider campus community. Finally, beginning this year, students will have the opportunity to create a web portfolio of their project that will be available online through the Lehman Library’s new exhibits webpage.