Slawson learns how to fife for the public with a member from the Yorktown Fife and Drum Corp for the Independence Day celebration.
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For Lycoming College student Maggie Slawson, portraying a member of George Washington’s household during the summer was altogether a different experience than she expected — it was life-changing.
Slawson spent much of her 10 weeks at George Washington’s Mount Vernon historical site in Virginia as a working class woman in period clothing explaining her lifestyle and work practices to thousands of visitors, educating them about the culture of the mid-1700’s. In order to do so believably, she was given training in interpretive methodology and historical content and participated in field trips to Colonial Williamsburg and the birthplace of George Washington at Popes Creek, Va.
“My summer experience was so much more than just a typical summer internship; it was the best experience of my entire life,” said Slawson, a senior from Armagh, Pa., who is majoring in history. “The internship provided many opportunities that helped me improve the skills and knowledge I already had. It also introduced me to so many wonderful people that will forever remain very close to my heart. They helped me grow as an individual and as an academic, and for that, I am forever blessed.”
The internship, paid for by the Entrepreneurial Internship Department of Historic Trades, included a stipend and room and board on the Mount Vernon Estate, as well as reimbursements for travel. Slawson was one of six selected for the internships out of hundreds of applicants across the country.
Along with her duties as a character on Washington’s farm, Slawson also transcribed and annotated about a dozen of George Washington’s personal documents related to his farming practices for the National Library for the Study of George Washington. Those transcriptions were posted on the historic trades section of the organization’s website, which she redesigned.
She and the other five college interns travelled to other historical sites including Gunston Hall Home; Thomas Jefferson’s Montecello; the Mary Washington House and Kenmore; and the Berkeley, Westover and Kenmore Plantations. Some trips, such as her trip to the Daughters of the American Revolution Headquarters in Washington, D.C., allowed her to network with potential future employers.
“Maggie's enthusiasm for our Historic Trades internship was fantastic. She was eager and always willing to rise to any task put before her,” said Deborah Colburn, Trades supervisor. “Maggie was a valuable addition to our team.”