Meet the Intern 2022

Posted on by fobbnc

As the summer of 2022 draws to a close, we’d like to introduce our readers to someone who may be familiar if you’ve visited in the past few months. Aaron Williford was selected as this year’s Buck Dunn Memorial Intern and has worked with us from May to August 2022 in that role. Luckily for us, Aaron has agreed to stick around in a part-time capacity following his successful internship. We’ve been fortunate to have Aaron’s help this summer and have enjoyed getting to know him better. Read below for more information about Aaron and some reflections from his summer at Bentonville!

Earlier this year, in April of 2022, I was graciously offered the opportunity to spend my summer as an intern here at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site, as part of the Buck Dunn Memorial Internship Program. I graduated from North Carolina Wesleyan University in December of 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in History. When I did, I knew that the field of public history in particular was where I wanted to put that degree to use. And so, when I discovered the internship program here at Bentonville a few short months after finishing my studies, it jumped out at me immediately as being exactly what I was looking for. The opportunities that the program offered seemed invaluable—Not only would I be working with the public on a regular basis, helping to interpret the history of the site, but the internship project for this year was to put together a comprehensive inventory of all of the site’s artifacts inside the Harper House. Having had no prior experience in both working with people and working with historic artifacts, what better way to get started in the field than right here?

Aaron putting his knowledge to use while facilitating a large Harper House tour

From the day that I got started in May until the very last day of my internship in August, each and every day spent at Bentonville lived up to what I was hoping to experience during my time here. Not a day went by that I did not speak to visitors, helping to orient them to the site and provide information and interpretation to the best of my abilities as a student of history. On most of those days, I gave tours of the Harper House, the type of thing I’d only dreamed of doing as a college student—introducing others to history directly, in person, in an exciting and personable way. For two months straight, I combed each and every room of the Harper House, practically turning the whole thing upside down as I meticulously went through every object and artifact in the house, documenting what they were, describing what condition they were in, cataloguing them in an organized and efficient manner. Now, I can recognize at a glance just about every item in the house—Its name, what it’s used for, whether it’s an original artifact or a reproduction prop.

My time here at Bentonville has been such an incredible experience that I’ve actually decided to stay on as a part-time employee here, despite my internship having officially ended on the last day of August. Working with the public has made each and every day different and exciting, and I’m surrounded by coworkers who are as passionate about history as I am, whose depths of knowledge never fail to astound and enlighten me. Nothing I learned in college could have truly prepared me for the public history field, but I feel that my time here at Bentonville has more than made up for that. I want to thank everyone that I’ve been working with all summer for making me feel right at home from the very first day I started here, and I want to thank the supporters of the Battlefield for providing me with the opportunity to come here in the first place. It’s been an incredible summer, and I cannot wait to see what comes next!

Aaron, farthest back in this photo, joined the staff on our staff development trip to Petersburg and Richmond, VA to see Civil War sites

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