CRDIP Harriet Tubman National Historical Park: The Journey… So Far

Written by: Shay Dawson



1896 Syracuse, NY newspaper about Harriet Tubman's home for the aged

1896 Syracuse, NY newspaper about Harriet Tubman’s home for the aged.

This summer has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Already just about halfway through with my time with ACE and The National Park Service, I have already been exposed to a variety of different museum and conservation duties. Though my position is archive-specific, my supervisor has been wonderful in accommodating some of my other interests due to being so early in the Museum Studies journey. I have been able to dabble in the preservation and restoration of historic structures, archaeology, and, my all-time favorite, programming & education.

Outside of my technical duties, I have also found my experience in Auburn to be so unbelievably rewarding. Knowing that Harriet Tubman selected Auburn to reside with her family and live out the rest of her days following her many years assisting enslaved individuals to obtain their freedom always gives me chills! Though moving was originally quite daunting for me, I have found that it was ultimately for the best. I have been able to immerse myself in the lively, rich community that flourishes in Auburn. I have attended a number of events in my freetime, and have even explored a variety of museums. This has provided me with a sense of community that, while I had certainly hoped to find, I didn’t expect to do so so seamlessly.


Harriet Tubman National Park archival files

Harriet Tubman National Park archival files

This off-duty experience combined with my on-duty experiences has made for a wonderful experience thus far! Working through the first of five boxes I have been tasked with archivally scanning has been all the more rewarding, as I have been provided with the historical context to understand the significance of all of the items I have come across. Along with this, to see so many invested in the preservation of the history of Harriet Tubman (and, in turn, African American history), has given me a new sense of optimism. These narratives hold value to so many, which makes me feel even more honored to carry out this service.

All of the knowledge I have gained about archival work is sure to benefit me as I continue to navigate my Museum Studies MA program. These are skills that can be taken to any kind of museum, and even holds relevancy outside of museum spaces. That said, I am extremely excited to be exploring these tasks in Auburn, NY for HART. Not only am I able to draw various connections to my career goals, but to my own personal enrichment as well.

Interested in conservation efforts and want to learn about American Conservation Experience? If so, click here to view our programs, including our Conservation Crew and Emerging Professionals in Conservation (EPIC) programs. Click here to view conservation project locations across the United States.

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