My name is Jennifer Webb, and I’m a Keystone Intern. (“Hi, Jenn.”) I applied for a PHMC internship in archaeology and GIS at the tail end of my junior year at Kutztown University, where I major in history and anthropology. When I received a callback from Janet Johnson, I was surprised and pleased.
My time at the PHMC is split between Noël Strattan, who supervises the Cultural Resource Geographic Information Survey (CRGIS) at the Bureau of Historic Preservation, and Janet Johnson, a curator in the Section of Archaeology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania. For Ms. Strattan, I entered and corrected CRGIS artifact data that State Museum archaeologists had catalogued over the years. My work for Ms. Johnson was a bit more varied, including data entry; cleaning, sorting and re-shelving artifact collections; scanning old archaeological journals; digging at Ephrata Cloister; assisting another intern with a lithics and projectile point typology project; and attending a meeting at Cornwall Iron Furnace.
Regarding the CRGIS, not only was the entire system being overhauled, but in many cases the State Museum and BHP had received conflicting data concerning archaeological sites. It was up to me to convert artifact information to the new system (“brick”, for example, became “architectural—ceramic”) and then resolve the differences between the data sets.
Amy Jukus, the intern coordinator, diversified my days at the PHMC by organizing several tours and field trips for the interns over the course of the summer. These included a walking tour of Harrisburg’s historic district, a special tour of the capitol building and a day trip to both Ephrata Cloister and Landis Valley. In addition, Joe Baker, a Penn DOT archaeologist, arranged a weekly seminar for Penn DOT and Keystone interns. During these seminars, we learned about cultural resource management, heard amusing anecdotes of Mr. Baker’s experiences in historic preservation, and attempted to solve problems that might arise during the course of building a bridge or widening a road. He also took us down to Washington Boro, so we could see in person what we had been working on in theory.
Most of the internship was good, of course, but there was a slight flooding problem in archaeology that occurred one evening that resulted in a massive, multi-departmental effort to move and dry boxes of artifacts. And when I say “slight flooding problem” I mean “a pipe the size of my torso ruptured”. However, it was nice to see all the other PHMC employees coming down to assist as we frantically relocated things. (Don’t worry—as far as I know, no artifacts were harmed.)
Now that I have completed my internship, I am looking forward to my senior year at college and then apply to grad school. I would like to get a master’s degree in archaeology, but I may end up going for a history degree or some other related field, depending on where I am accepted and the programs offered.
Overall, it was a deeply educational experience that I would certainly recommend to anyone interested in museum studies, cultural resource management or historic preservation. The opportunities to meet and work with professionals in the field, as well as the “extracurricular” activities that allowed us to stretch our legs, were very much worth the commute!