Sunday, June 12, 2016

Antietam NB Visitors Center
           I have spent most of my second week at Antietam within the battlefield’s Visitor Center. The interpretive staff has been welcoming and thorough in addressing any of my proposed questions. Due to the wealth of knowledge around me, I believe I was able to soak in a good bit of information on the Battle of Antietam’s context, duration, and aftermath. Along with the availability to explore the staff’s knowledge, I was able to attend visitor talks everyday meant to give a prelude to the battlefield’s auto tour. At the end of the week I was even able to ride along with an Interpretation Ranger who was giving a tour to a sixty-eight person car caravan of visitors that came to Antietam for the day.
Ranger Led Car Caravan
Among the highlights of the week, my time spent at the Mumma Farm Education Center was particularly engaging. I watched programs administered to three different school groups of fourth graders. The programs conducted were a living history Civil War Soldier explaining the lifestyle of soldiers who would have fought at Antietam and a communication program showing the children how generals would have communicated via flag signaling.  The kids enjoyed both programs, they were left in awe when the Union soldier fired a smooth bore musket into the cornfield. They were also able to personally use flag signals to communicate messages to each other. 
The work associated with interpretation lies within conveying the importance of the unit to visitors. That is no easy task, professionals in charge of providing knowledge of the unit are even still in the process of learning about the battlefield! However, I do not think a visitor who took advantage of our programs would have any trouble in determining the significance of Antietam National Battlefield. Throughout the week I was intrigued by witnessing our staff at Antietam guide visitor experiences by recapping history, aiding in the research of battle regiments, and tailoring programs to all age groups and personalities. 

Angelo Algeri, Cohort 5

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