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Internship Offers Experience in Digital and Community History

Kierra Verdun ’18 (right) with her Historypin supervisor Kerri Young

Kierra Verdun ’18 (right) with her Historypin supervisor, Kerri Young, at the National World War I Museum (Kansas City, Mo.)

History major Kierra Verdun ’18 wasn’t planning on completing an internship this summer, but after speaking to her professor, Janelle Werner, the Marlene Crandell Francis Assistant Professor of History, about her post-grad plans, Kierra decided she needed some experience in digital history.

She found her opportunity to gain this experience at Historypin, an organization that promotes communities to digitally share their local history. “Historypin taps into ‘knowledge communities,’ which are communities that already have this local knowledge,” she says. “[The goal] is to put value into what they are already doing [and]… to bridge the gap between communities and the digital world.”

This summer Kierra has used primary sources from the National Archives to create an online archive on Historypin. She has also been involved in creating a World War I app that teachers and educators can use as a tool for finding and presenting digital archives in the classroom. Kierra recently attended a conference at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, Mo., to present the app. “We did demos with the teachers and then reported back to developers with teachers’ comments and suggestions,” she says. The conference was a  collaboration between the National Archives and the National Word War I Museum.

“History should be more accessible,” says Kierra. “That’s why I like Historypin. It’s presenting histories that are not often represented.” Her internship at Historypin has made her more confident in her ability to research and contribute, and she has also learned how digital history relates to community engagement. “I better understand what ‘public history’ is, and how it relates to community engagement and social justice,” she says. “Historypin has given me the tools to know how to get at the intersection of public history and social justice.”

Kierra will study abroad in Thailand this fall. After graduating from K, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in public history.

Text by McKenna Bramble ’16. McKenna graduated from Kalamazoo College with a B.A. degree in psychology and currently works as the post-baccalaureate summer assistant in the College’s Center for Career and Professional Development. She enjoys writing and reading poetry, hanging out with friends and eating chocolate. In the fall she plans to apply to M.F.A. degree programs for poetry. This is one of a series of profiles she is writing about K students and their summer internships.