Increasingly, historians are looking to share their stories with wider audiences. Here’s why Kristin, a history PhD student, chose to intern with us this summer.

“Hi there! My name is Kristin and I am excited to be working as a Programs Intern this summer. I was born and raised in the Hampton Roads area, but I’ve spent the past eight years in Pennsylvania as I work towards my doctoral degree in History.

Though some of my past research has centered on Virginia history, my knowledge of Virginia Beach’s past was limited. Initially, I was drawn to the Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum because of its past as a Lifesaving Station, as part of my research covers earlier lifesaving efforts and institutions. This position combines my interest in lifesaving history and Virginia’s past with my desire to learn more about public history.

Throughout my summer here, I’m excited to learn more about how to make history engaging for the public and how to get community members involved with historical sites. In the past, I’ve worked at libraries and archives, but have never had the opportunity to work directly with the public. I want to learn more about making history interesting to the public: how to attract visitors, how to make museums enjoyable for multiple generations, and how to design programs that encourage community engagement with the past in fun and exciting ways.

Virginia Beach is full of history, but it’s not always apparent on the surface. For the out-of-towners who visit the museum, I hope I can impart a sense of the the important part the area played in Virginia and national history, before it became the beach destination they’re here to enjoy. For local residents, I hope my work helps those who visit us understand the men and women who lived and worked here before them, as well as the forces that shaped the community they call home today.

I’ve already gotten to work on several projects and events that go towards achieving my goals for this internship. It’s been an exciting introduction to publicly-oriented museum work, as I’ve learned how to greet visitors, lead tours, and prepare for events, just a few of the many, many tasks required to successfully run a museum. I’m also working independently and collaboratively on several projects. I’m particularly excited about them because they are an opportunity to share the city and museum’s interesting history with audiences that might not get a chance to come in otherwise.

Just a few weeks in, I am blown away by how much the museum staff accomplishes for their size, and the variety of skills they possess that are needed to successfully develop programs and hold events. The staff here is very welcoming and supportive, and I’m sure the rest of my time here will be full of fun and enjoyable learning experiences. I can’t wait for the summer ahead—I hope you’ll join us!”

Kristin is completing her doctorate in history at Lehigh University. Her forthcoming dissertation is titled, “Beyond the Grave: The Politicization of Death in 18th Century America.” We’re looking forward to seeing where her career takes her!