Ethnography 101

What happens when a public historian temporarily becomes an ethnographer? That’s part of what I’ll be finding out this summer.  I only have a basic understanding of anthropology and once dabbled in anthropology during my undergraduate career. I took on anthropology and sociology as a minor  my junior year (after my break up with my secondary education minor). I ended up only pursuing sociology, although I did well in the anthropology classes I did take. I suppose I just couldn’t leave anthropology alone.

Last two weeks in my internship my intern supervisors began to advise us on how to conduct interviews (I have a different oral history background), how to write field notes, and the like. With my first field note write, I think I’m getting into the swing of things and soon I’ll be conducting interviews/oral history. It is interesting to look at heritage in a different formalized and qualitative way.

Last Wednesday, I also attended a Beyond the Beach/Indiana Dunes tourism meeting in Porter, Indiana as part of participant observation and in the stead of Field Museum staff member.  Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail, by the way, is multiple trails used to direct visitors through a number of natural and cultural resources in the Indiana Dunes region. I learned quite  a bit about the work that goes into obtaining  grant funding for historical and environmentally-based tourist programs such as Beyond the Beach. The meeting was also an opportunity to learn about what resources are valued in that Indiana Dunes region, which is being considered as a part of the Calumet Heritage Area.