Imagining New Careers in Public History

A working group

The Case of Cresap’s Will

As a reporter for the Cumberland Times-News (Cumberland, Maryland), I was pretty sure I had chosen poorly when I took the job on as a staff writer with no journalism classes under my belt.  It was like having a term paper due every day, and I imagined it a pretty unsatifactory career choice – that is, until I uncovered in the course of covering another story the fact that the county’s vintage copy of Thomas Cresap’s will (of French & Indian era Cresap’s Fort fame) had gone missing from its storage place (the original was/is in the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis).  No one knew anyone who knew anything about who it was that saw it where they saw it last.  Preettty embarrassing for the Register of Wills office, to say the least.  That, however, wasn’t the satifactory part.  The fulfillment came when they revised public procedures, totally revamping their accession policies and tightening security on other valuable archives in response to my published story.  Public History was the ‘ink’ in my pen even then.  Who would have thought it?

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