Students in the Field

Sarah Sutton and Jonathan BurtonPublic History MA student Sarah Sutton shares her perspective on a new part-time position with Center partner, the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks.

In February 2016, I joined the team at the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks as Outreach Coordinator.  PhilaLandmarks is a non-profit organization which cares for four historic houses in the Philadelphia area. I first learned about PhilaLandmarks through Managing History, the introductory course for new graduate students focused in public history at Temple, taught by Dr. Hilary Lowe. During this course, my classmates and I each created a self-guided tour for the Powel House; one of PhilaLandmark’s pre-Revolutionary historic houses in Society Hill.

SS and LandmarksThis position is designed to help PhilaLandmarks grow their membership, attract younger audiences, create events that would foster relationships with younger audiences at their house museums, and generate strategic partnerships with other museums and non-profits around the city.  In this role, I attend Young Friends meetings and events in Philadelphia and make connections with young professionals in the culture industry, as well as other fields.

Since this work started, I have had a crash course in the non-profit community in Philadelphia and discovered a great deal about PhilaLandmarks’ position in that community. I can see real-world connections between my position and my current classes, particularly Non-Profit Management for Historians thanks to my professor, Ken Finkel. I’ve been able to bring what I’m learning about strategic planning and management directly to my work at PhilaLandmarks.

For instance, sitting in on a Collections Committee meeting at the Physick House, I’ve been able to see firsthand how accessioning and de-accessioning of the collections plays out in small museums, and  I’ve been able help unpack and place a new historic piece of furniture. These experiences improve my ability to navigate the non-profit world and my understanding how to effectively present ideas to board members and committee chairs.  Having the opportunity to work closely with professionals in the field like Executive Director Jonathan Burton, Development Coordinator Mickey Herr, and other members of the PhilaLandmarks team has been amazing!

We have some great ideas in the works for the upcoming months, and I am eager to get to work and continue learning.

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