John Moynihan is currently in his third year at Ball State. He is majoring in History with a Public History Concentration and minoring in Anthropology. John is from Muncie and graduated from Delta High School in 2018, where he initially started taking Ball State dual-credit classes. Over the last three years, he has mainly taken courses that focus on modern U.S. history, world history, cultural anthropology, and modern planning history. After his freshman year, Moynihan worked for the Center for Middletown Studies in the summer. Then, in his sophomore year, he presented at the Student History Conference. This year, he is interning with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology.
During his internship with the DHPA, John will be supervised by Jeannie Regan-Dinius, the Division’s Director of Special Initiatives. After his internship, he plans on either pursuing a Master’s degree in Historic Preservation or obtaining a law degree and specializing in preservation law.
How did you decide you wanted to pursue a degree in Public History?
I decided to pursue a degree in Public History due to my long interest in the subject of history as well as my interest in related topics such as historic preservation and law. I knew that I did not want to pursue an academic history route, in which I would likely go onto teach, but rather I wanted to work in a subfield within the private or governmental sphere.
In my courses at Ball State, I have been able to explore many topics within the field of public history, which gave me a great look at multiple possible avenues after receiving my bachelor’s degree. Ultimately, I have felt that my time at Ball State has taught me a lot about the field and solidified my decision to major in- and eventually work in the field of public history.
Why were you interested in this specific internship?
I was interested in interning with the Indiana Department of Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology due to my interest in the topics of historic preservation and preservation law. The DHPA’s role in reviewing and dealing with historic properties across Indiana meant that their scope of work fit perfectly with my interests, as they conduct a host of architectural, archaeological, environmental, and historical resource assessments and reviews throughout the year. In interning with the Division, I could get hands on experience and develop critical skills in working with databases, communicating and working with professionals in the field, in writing and researching, and with conducting field work.
My current internship site supervisor, Jeannie Regan-Dinius, has also worked with numerous interns over the past to years. Her role as the Division’s Director of Special Initiatives has meant that she would and has allowed interns like myself to learn about a variety of functions someone in the field carries out. Additionally, in interning with an organization like the DHPA, I could learn how the work of preservationists and archaeologists is applied to support and help the public with historic resources.
What does a typical day at your internship look like?
A typical day for me fluctuates quite a bit, as I have been assigned to work on a variety of projects. Each week, I normally work at least three days at the DNR’s office in downtown Indianapolis and two (Thursday and Friday typically) remotely at home. This schedule has remained consistent throughout the year, with the exception of days where my supervisor and I do fieldwork or if for some other reason I needed to work remotely.
When at the DNR office, most of my time has consisted of doing work on DHPA Facebook posts, map and deed research, archival work, and reading. Additionally, while at the DHPA, I meet with my supervisor, have worked with and had meetings with various staff members, have assisted them in projects, and have gone along with to do fieldwork in the Indianapolis area. When working at home, I have largely done research, worked on completing social media and data entry, I occasionally am a part of Zoom meetings with my supervisor and DNR staff, and I work on completing my daily work logs and journals.
What are the most valuable skills you have gained from your internship?
Throughout my internship, I have learned a variety of skills that I think will be helpful in a future career. I would say that the most valuable skills I have gained are in research, specifically in regard to preservation law and architectural reviews. Both my semester-long main project, in which I have been researching an early 19th Century homestead, and in the smaller projects I have worked on, researching and writing have been major focus points. I have been learning how to use databases, find historical images, identify historical resources, and write in an informative nature. Additionally, especially with writing, presenting information in a way that is accessible and presentable to the public has been a valuable skill to obtain.
What is the most fulfilling part of your internship?
The most fulfilling part of my research has been taking what I have learned from both my Ball State courses and what I have learned from my internship supervisor and applying it to public use. While I have most enjoyed conducting fieldwork and researching historic resources, making information useful to others has been fulfilling.
One of the biggest differences between this work and course work at Ball State was in branching away from purely academic writing. Rather, my internship has allowed me to make use of a variety of outlets to learn about and work with. Historic resources. Additionally, the scope of projects and range of experiences that this internship has presented me with has been fulfilling.