Monday, July 31, 2017

Exploring Eisenhower National Historic Site

After the Gettysburg anniversary, I got to spend some time at Eisenhower National Historic Site. Eisenhower National Historic Site is located in Gettysburg, bordering the battlefield. The site consists of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s home and farm. Eisenhower initially purchased the property to retire on after the war. However, his retirement was continually delayed, by his time as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and his presidency. As a result, the Eisenhower home saw much use as a country retreat and as a place for diplomatic visits. Eisenhower NHS is administered by Gettysburg National Military Park, so I was fortunate enough to visit for two days this week.
Learning more about the site in the office library
On my first day, I became more familiar with the Eisenhower home, and went on several ranger programs about the history of the site, President Eisenhower’s life, and his role during the Second World War. The Eisenhower home was very interesting to tour because nearly every piece of furniture or object inside had a story that captured a part of Eisenhower’s life, including his military career, presidency, and his interest in farming.
Learning about what American GI carried during the "Ike and the Men of D-Day" program
Exploring the Eisenhower home

 I was also fortunate enough to sit in on a site meeting. This was particularly interesting because Eisenhower NHS is smaller than Gettysburg NMP, and I got to observe some of the management and administrative differences between smaller and larger park units.

I spent my second day at Eisenhower NHS working in the archival collection. The Eisenhower home is filled with furniture and objects from the Eisenhower family, but only represents a fraction of the full museum collection. I started the morning by helping the curatorial staff open several museum cases.
One of several museum cases that we emptied

 I watched them carefully remove the items on display and pack them for transport back to the museum collection for storage. I was happy to help, but handling such delicate objects is better left to professionals. After the items were boxed up, I helped carry two doors back into the Eisenhower home and hang them. Moving a bulky object like a door is awkward, and inside the Eisenhower home, even more care had to be taken when moving through doorways and up flights of stairs. Once the doors were hanged, we returned to curatorial storage. There, I helped clean several objects that had recently been brought into storage, including deck chairs from the Eisenhower home. The chairs had accumulated quite a bit of dirt and dust on them in their previous storage site, and it was great to see that my work made a noticeable difference.  

I finished my day with a closer look at some of the items in the museum collection, including election memorabilia, uniforms, the President's personal firearms collection. 
Exploring the Eisenhower collection
I had a great time at Eisenhower National Historic Site, and I learned a lot about the site. I felt like I squeezed in a second internship this summer, and I hope to visit the Eisenhower's home again sometime soon.

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