Practicum Partnerships

Smithsonian Gardens

Every spring, students in the public history practicum (HIST-730) engage in hands-on learning through projects with various external partners. For students, these projects provide an arena for authentic learning, a chance to build resumes, and an opportunity to work closely with a professional mentor. For our partners, the projects provide valuable, professional assistance in developing their interpretive programming and exhibits.

Projects require students to work in small teams and spend the semester researching and developing a final product. Through this process, students learn best practices in interpretive planning, visitor evaluation, writing for public audiences, and working with new media. At the end of the semester, students create posters to present at the annual Public History Day gathering. Many student groups go on to present these posters to national conferences, such as the annual meetings of the National Council on Public History and the American Association for State and Local History.

Previous Partners:

Anacostia Community Museum
Students wrote blog posts documenting the history of neighborhood change in the DC Latinx community.

Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, National Park Service
Students researched and designed wayside signs for Arlington Cemetery and developed an interpretive plan for the house's slave quarters.

Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park
Students researched and selected new material for self-guided interpretive resources.

Cleveland Park Historical Society
Students created videos about the architectural history of the neighborhood.

DC 1968
Students mapped the presence, practice, and projection of whiteness in 1968 DC.

Dupont Underground
Students created brochures and informational panels about the history of the trolley tunnels.

Historical Society of Washington
Students used collections to research and create an education program for 12th graders in DC Public Schools. Another student group created educational programming illuminating the history of the streetcar and teaching students how to exercise historical thinking.

Lemelson Center for the History of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History
Students researched and scripted two theater monologues highlighting the lives of women inventors.

Menokin Foundation
Students produced a prospectus to guide the foundation's future work, as well as three wayside signs about the house and grounds.

National Building Museum
Students researched and developed wayside signs for the St. Elizabeth's hospital campus (now the Department of Homeland Security) to educate employees about the history of the campus and the buildings' original purposes.

National Museum of American History
A number of practicum groups have worked with NMAH on the following projects:

  • Developing components of the American Enterprise exhibition
  • Photographing objects, conducting research, and designing a website exploring the business history of cosmetics
  • Researching and designing a website on the history of trade in the U.S. and American-made products
  • Researching and scripting a public program exploring the history of innovation through artificial hearts
  • Developing large flashcards for use by museum docents

National Park Service
Student projects with the National Park Service have included:

  • Developing a podcast about Marian Anderson's Lincoln Memorial concert
  • Researching and creating an online exhibition about Resurrection City
  • Researching and designing an interpretive website for the DC War Memorial
  • Creating a website connecting the Bill of Rights with National Parks around the country

NPR (National Public Radio)
Students worked to make editions of the radio show All Things Considered from 1971 to 1983 available to students participating in National History Day.

Smithsonian Gardens
One practicum group developed an educational website about the history of urban community gardening in the U.S., and another curated a pop-up exhibit about the history of honey bees and beekeeping innovations.

White House Historical Association
Student groups have researched and scripted a guided walking ghost tour of Lafayette Square and created a web exhibit of the unfinished servants' quarters at the Decatur House.