Vol 34 | No 2 | Spring 15
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Department of History Internship Empowers Students to “Do History”

ImageWhat are you going to do with a History degree?”

Four students from the Department of History who interned in UCI Libraries Special Collections and Archives during Fall quarter, have heard this question before.
Seniors Linkha Escobar, Dulce Guerrero, Shelby Jirikils and Kyle Larkin participated in the inaugural session of History 197: History Internship, taught by Associate Professor of History Laura Mitchell. They were supervised by UCI Libraries site supervisors Thuy Vo Dang, Archivist for the Southeast Asian Archive and Regional History, Steve MacLeod, Public Services Librarian, and Laura Uglean Jackson, Archivist for University Archives.

Mitchell, with the support of History Chair Emily Rosenberg, wanted students to be able to gain experience with professionals in the field of public history and to actively integrate their academic study of history with doing history in the community. Rosenberg was instrumental in the development of the new course.

“The questions and methods of historical investigation come alive when students work on their own projects in public settings. History is not about memorization of names and dates. It is a dynamic inquiry that involves research, critical thinking, selection of material, and careful presentation. Internships can teach all of that. We believe in active learning,” said Rosenberg.
The students succeeded in “doing history” with the curation of a special mini-exhibit in the Special Collections and Archives lobby. The outcome of this special project was a “Diversity of Student Life at UCI” exhibit, which highlights the origins of a diverse student body on campus, student movements and activism, the Cross-Cultural Center and student life and recreation.

“When I first started I felt like a detective, or secret agent, going up to the 5th floor and finding all this unique information,” explained Linkha Escobar who curated a case dedicated to the history of the Cross- Cultural Center. “I soon learned that it wasn’t just about finding the information but engaging with it.”

University Librarian Lorelei Tanji presented each of the students with a certificate of completion and commended them on being the inaugural class in program. She also stressed the importance of the partnership with the Department of History.

“We aspire to be a major information resource for the campus community, and in addition to finding information, what we really hope to be doing is to be a center where students and faculty come together to collaborate and create knowledge,” said Tanji. “This program does this beautifully and we are honored to be one of the sites for it.”

ImageThe “Diversity of Student Life at UCI” exhibit will be on display through June 2015, in the Special Collections and Archives Lobby, on the 5th floor of Langson Library. History students also interned with Orange County History Day and with the Vietnamese American Oral History Project.

To learn more about the History Internship program please visit, http://sites.uci.edu/historyinternship/ . And for more information on the UCI Libraries participation as an internship site, visit http://special.lib.uci.edu or contact Audra Eagle Yun, Head of Special Collections andArchives, University Archivist at audra.yun@uci.edu.