Training the Next Generation of Public Historians in South Carolina
Special thanks to Michael Bedenbaugh, intrepid executive director of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, for visiting my Introduction to Public History class yesterday, and for staying afterwards to talk more! Mike's sincerity, integrity, creativity, passion, and spirit of public service are contagious, and I'm honored to be able to count him a friend and colleague.
Students had already read, written about, and discussed two book chapters by way of an introduction to the field before the visit by our expert guest. Later in the semester we plan to visit the State Historic Preservation Office, part of the SC Department of Archives and History, and the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, operated by the Historic Columbia Foundation. Mike's talk focused on the business side of historic preservation, including the vital role of a statewide non-profit in bringing value to historic properties and connecting them with interested buyers. To illustrate the diversity of the organization's work he mentioned the innovative Daufuskie Endangered Places Program, which aims to keep traditional Gullah cottages in the hands of existing owners while providing them necessary revenue through tourist rentals, as well as the remarkable moving and restoration of the Wilkins House, a Reconstruction-era Italianate mansion in downtown Greenville.
What a privilege to be able to help open up worlds of possibilities outside the classroom for a great group of history majors, minors, and lovers!