This past summer I interned at the American Independence Museum in Exeter, NH. The AIM consists of two historical buildings: the Ladd-Gilman House built in 1725, and the Folsom Tavern built circa 1775. The Ladd-Gilman house was at one time the residence of several local and national founding fathers, including John Taylor Gilman, New Hampshire’s longest serving governor, and his brother Nicolas Gilman, Jr., who signed the U.S. Constitution. The AIM is owned by the Society of the Cincinnati, this nation’s oldest veterans’ society, which uses it to educate the public about the roots of the American Revolution, the Revolution itself, and the foundation of the United States.
My job at the AIM was varied. Early in the summer, I taught groups of 2nd and 5th graders as part of the museum’s educational program, and at various times thereafter, I worked as a docent. However, my work was primarily devoted to two projects. First, I began the construction of an audio guide, which entailed extensive research of objects in the museum. Second, I followed and recorded the tours of the museum’s more experienced guides, in order to collect their personal knowledge and to determine any potential discrepancies between the tours. My greatest lesson this summer was that the smallest historical objects, though seemingly insignificant, often yield the greatest insight into the past.
– Benjamin Leavitt