Friday, July 10, 2015

My Week with Interpretation - Independence NHP

This week I have been working with the interpretation division at Independence. It has been an interesting experience in one of the divisions I knew the least about going in.  I shadowed both a ranger, David Albert, and a guide, Jane Storsteen, earlier in the week. Interp. Rangers handle the tours of the various buildings while the Guides deal with more individual interactions with the visitors. I was surprised by how much and how often they moved throughout the day. Both guides and Rangers changed stations very often, usually only spending about 30-45 minutes at each location. This led me to every significant building in the park as I attended tours and helped with guiding visitors through the exhibits. 

I also got to see the printing press demonstration that is done every day in the print shop in Franklin court. The rangers use historically accurate equipment and presses to print out reproductions of different documents, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. After the plates are inked and the paper (made of the same cotton-based material as our money) is pressed, the document is hung from the ceiling to dry. At Ben Franklin's print shop the same type of presses were used to press a document every 20 seconds, something that would have been a sight to see if my visit was any indication (the average time for the rangers, in no rush obviously, was about 4 minutes). The press is a good way to show a historical object being used as it would have been and it makes for a fun exhibit.

Another event I was lucky enough to attend was a ceremonial reading of the Declaration of Independence on the 239th anniversary of its first presentation to the public on July 8th, 1976.

The reading, which happens every year, was attended by a large crowd and declarations were handed out so the audience could follow along. Following a brief introduction speech, the declaration was read in its entirety, complete with screams from both sides of the revolution delivered by park employees in costume and the occasional eager guest. At the end of the reading the presenter held his copy up to
enthusiastic applause and cheers. It was very cool to see the Declaration being read in front of a crowd and the park did a good job of establishing the atmosphere to really convey the weight of what was happening. It was a wonderful way to round out the 4th of July experience on the park.  

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