Why do old places matter?

“As I settle in a place, the place settles me.” Juhani Pallasmma, Forum Journal (Spring 2015)

00_29.3Cover_smallMore than fifteen months ago, my colleague at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Tom Mayes, embarked on a journey. For six months, he lived at the American Academy in Rome researching and thinking about one of the most central tenets of our profession: Why Do Old Places Matter? He wanted to tease out the reasons both easy to grasp and far reaching in order to allow preservationists to create a more complete picture of why we work to save places. In those fifteen months, I feel as if I’ve traveled alongside him, literally as part of my work at the National Trust, and intellectually in trying to answer and embrace the question in my own way.

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View from the New: Graduate students and new professionals on History@Work

We all have to start somewhere. Public historians arrive in the profession from a variety of different places. We are inspired to work in a field that invokes passion and a lot of heart–but at some point we have all taken our first steps into the profession, either as graduate students or as new professionals who came into our public history work from unexpected directions.

And it’s hard. Trying to find your mark, trying to figure out where you want to end up–finding a job (or even moving from that first public history job to making the next big jump in your career).  While you know that it’s not a unique situation, knowing that you’re not alone sometimes helps to guide decisions along your path.

As the editors for “View from the New,” the graduate student/new professional section on History@Work, we aspire to provide tools, resources, and advice for those just getting started in the field.  But it’s not just about career advice. Sometimes being new means that you have a unique point of view of the field, of your work, of exhibitions.  And that view hastens creativity and encourages others to look outside the box.

We are hoping that this section of History@Work will provide just that: the inspiration to try something new, guidance along those initial steps in the field, and a space for productive dialogues about being a graduate student and new professional in the field of public history.

~ Priya Chhaya is the Online Content Coordinator for Forum members at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She attended the public history program at American University (by way of the College of William and Mary). Her work with the Preservation Career Center was profiled on the American Historical Association Careers in History blog, and she actively writes for the NTHP’s Preservation Nation blog. You can follow her on Twitter at @priyastoric.

~ Laura Miller is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  She also completed her M.A. degree in Public History & Oral History at UMass.  Her research focuses on the development of a multi-ethnic summer resort landscape in New York’s Catskill Mountains in the twentieth century.  Laura can be reached at lamil1@history.umass.edu.