This summer I interned at the Conneaut Lake Area Historical Society and Museum. The area has a very rich history as the hunting grounds of Native Americans, and today still yields arrowheads and tools dating as far back as 10,000 B.C. It is also home to Conneaut Lake Park (Formerly Exhibition Park) which has hosted many famous people and events in its 120 years. The area was also the location for the second largest national TNT plant during WWII and is close to some of the nation’s biggest industries such as Talon, Inc. which made zippers for NASA. The lake itself is the largest natural lake in Pennsylvania and is host to Mastadon (similar to the Wooly Mammoth) bones, which were dug up in the 1950s. The old rumrunner boat The Liberty II was also salvaged from the lake in the 1980s and is one of only three left in existence. The other two are at the Smithsonian and the Dayton AFB Museum, but The Liberty II is the only one which still runs.
I spent 10 weeks this summer assisting the various members of the Historical Society by doing interviews and research, giving tours, working in the archives, and helping with events and exhibits. I met many wonderful people and learned so much about the area even though I had lived close to it for many years. My favorite experiences were meeting and interviewing people and going through the archives. I also aided in the archaeological excavation of John Brown’s Tannery which was definitely a highlight. So much goes into running even a small scale museum, and I learned some invaluable lessons. Thanks to this internship I am more excited than ever to pursue a career in public history.
– Elisabeth McDonald '14