Anna Osborne is a Public History intern at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Division of Historic Preservatioand Archaeology (INDNR: DHPA) for the Spring 2022 semester. After realizing her passion for history through personal interests and through the guidance of others around her, Osborne aims to use the skills learned from her internship to aid in the preservation of historic sites in the state of Indiana for both current and future generations alike. Due to having a positive experience with the DHPA staff, Osborne hopes to one day continue working in a professional and friendly environment.

Note: This interview was published by Kaitlyn Herrenbruck.

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How did you end up in Public History?

After striking out in science classes, I found that not only was I better at studying and writing about history, but I also enjoyed it so much more. I was only a General History major at first, as I didn’t understand just how different Public History is. But, my advisor did me a favor by telling me that if I wanted to actually use the skills I was learning outside of academia, it would be in my best interest to add the Public History major to my repertoire. Whether it’s listening to one of the enthusiastic history professors’ lectures or exploring historic towns, diving into the past could never bore me. Within the first couple weeks of learning the specifics about the Public History field, I knew it was the place for me, and I finally felt confident and secure in my college career and in my future endeavors. 

What led you to interning for the Department of Natural Resources?

Although I knew Public History was where I belonged, it didn’t stop me from stressfully anticipating the internship application process. In the end, however, it was the least stressful aspect of being a Public History major. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology was the first place I applied to, and I was accepted before I could even apply to a second institution. I was lucky enough to have already met my current supervisor, Jeannie Regan-Dinius, through a volunteer event she had set up that invited history students to help her take inventory of deteriorating headstones at Crown Hill Cemetery. Historic preservation specifically hasn’t always been on the top list of fields I wish to pursue in history, but volunteering with Jeannie and learning about Indiana Landmarks made me realize that working with historic sites to keep them alive for our and future generations to learn from is something I am passionate about. 

What do you hope to gain from this internship?

By interning for the Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, I hope to walk away at the end of the semester with better communication and writing skills, as well as a good network of Public Historians who I can learn from and, hopefully one day, continue to work with. The DHPA staff is surprisingly small for all the work they do, and while they are a group of professionals who take their work seriously, they aren’t lacking in pure friendliness or good humor. They embody the type of workplace I hope to be a part of someday: where one can be professional, but also relaxed around co-workers. 

As for my writing skills, I learned all about academic writing while in my college courses, but writing for the public was something I didn’t have to learn until my junior year when I became a Public History major. Thankfully, projects I am working on at the DNR are going to benefit me greatly, as I have been tasked with creating a backlog of daily Facebook posts that describe sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And of course, I can already tell that from this internship I will gain more knowledge about the National Register and the requirements to have a property listed on it than I ever imagined. If I decide to continue pursuing historic preservation post-internship, I know that I will have a decent set of skills to show for the fact that I could do well in the field. 

For more information, visit the College of Science and Humanities website.