The NYMR were delighted to submit placement opportunities to the University of York for two MA Public History students. This credit-bearing module, which students undertake with a host organisation rather than at university-based seminars, is a core element of the MA programme for students taking a Master of Arts in Public History.

The University of York's Central Hall - John Robinson/Wikimedia

Public History is about what we do with history, it takes history out of traditional academic spheres and brings it out into the world. It’s about how we consume history, how we interact with it, and the challenges and opportunities associated with that. It includes anything you can think of that involves history, for example: tv, film, theatre, statues, memorials, museums, and, of course, heritage transport.

Marcus Aldrich, NYMR Head of Volunteering & Community Engagement, explains that the railway offered the placements as one of many new opportunities which we have been developing, demonstrating our commitment in support of our charitable objectives. This is an example of a much broader community engagement presence we are creating, reaching a new generation that can provide new insight, ideas and support. The railway will learn a great deal from Kaitlyn & Ben, and we will gain new perspectives on our work, that will ultimately inspire future opportunities.

The placement module runs over a ten week period in the Spring Term; the students will spend approx. 120 hours in total for work on the placement and 80 hours allocated time for formal academic assessment. The placement host organisations include, museums, heritage sites, archives, media organisations, community projects, and academic projects with a significant public history dimension.

Kaitlyn and Ben explain why such opportunities are invaluable:

Kaitlyn Story - It is important for the NYMR to offer opportunities like these placements because it allows for interaction beyond visiting patrons as well as a new perspective to be offered for the organization to consider. The world is constantly changing and evolving around us and while protection of heritage and history is vital, it is also vital that we keep pace with the changing environment and offer the new generations opportunities to engage with the history and to understand the importance of it. Offering placements such as the one I’ve been tasked with allows for future students to engage with the museum and offer fresh insights to the future of the museum, as well as gives the NYMR the opportunity to reach audiences that aren’t normally their intended audience.

The placements are linked to real work by the organisation and the students are able to make an active contribution to a worthwhile project. Current projects include 'Museum in a Box' - a loan-box scheme to enable students to have the opportunity to engage with our objects and artefact collection, bringing a subject to life and supporting classroom teaching cross-curricular and, an exhibition on 'The lifeblood of the Heritage Railway' - developing content for a temporary exhibition on how volunteering has evolved to date, and how it will evolve into the future.

Ben Huntley - This placement is an amazing opportunity to get hands on with how a heritage organisation interacts with and uses its own history. Although I have five years retail management experience, this new direction I’ve taken is new territory for me. It’s invaluable to be able to come into an organisation such as NYMR, particularly at such an exciting time for the railway, and experience the practicalities of actually 'doing history' within a real-world environment. It also marks the beginning of an exciting relationship between the university and the railway, which I hope will prosper and be mutually beneficial for years to come.

You can find out more about the NYMR's Charitable Aims or, if you would like to discuss student opportunities, email Michelle Baggaley, Community Engagement Manager on [email protected]

If you are looking to become a Volunteer and have a desire to help bring our charitable aims to life, please consider submitting a Volunteer Expression of Interest to start your volunteer journey.

Main Image: University of York