News from the Museum Studies Program
University of West Georgia and Atlanta History Center

July 2004 Museum Studies Graduates

Noelle Pearce Totten, left, and Nikki Patterson, right

Congratulations to Noelle Pearce Totten and Nikki Patterson, our most recent museum studies graduates! Noelle is taking the winter off to have a baby, and then she plans to return to museum work the next year. Noelle worked for several years as the Registrar of the Marietta Museum of History. Noelle holds an M.A. in Women's Studies from Georgia State University. Nikki Patterson plans to complete her M.A. in History at West Georgia in May 2005. She has been interning at the Chieftains Museum in Rome for the past year, where she is working in all aspects of museum work. Nikki is planning to complete a thesis/project on a family who lived at Chieftains after the Ridge family left.

Goodbye Pam, and Welcome Andy!

In May, we said goodbye to our AHC Museum Studies coordinator Pam Meister, who left the AHC to become the CEO of the Charlotte Museum of History in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pam helped Ann McCleary organize the program several years ago and she has been a tremendous asset in developing the course curriculum and networking with other museum professionals. We will miss Pam, but we are pleased to welcome Dr. Andy Ambrose into the coordinator position. Dr. Ambrose, who serves as the AHC Chief Operating Officer, has had an amazing career in museum work and he has also been active in writing about Atlanta History. Andy will be teaching the Museum Administration class in the fall of 2005.

Congrats to Our New Museum Studies Graduates, May 2004

Congrats to, from left, Amanda Mros, Jill Sauser, Walter Todd, and
Teresa Beyer, with Pam Meister

We are pleased to announce our new graduates of the Museum Studies Certificate program this spring: Teresa Beyer, Amanda Mros, Jill Sauser, and Walter Todd. Teresa has accepted a position as Historian/Curator at a new state park in Laramie, Wyoming, as of July. Amanda Mros plans to complete her M.A. this summer and is currently working as an intern at the Georgia State Archives. Jill Sauser, trained in the sciences, is perusing her options in the Atlanta area. Walter Todd, who works at intermurals at West Georgia, plans to continue to volunteer with the Center for Public History at West Georgia with our Veterans History Project and with the military history department at the Atlanta History Center. Congratulations to you all!

Two Public History Students Win UWG History Department Awards, April 2004

Teresa Beyer

Erin Brasfield

Teresa Beyer and Erin Brasfield raked in the top awards in the History Graduate program at our 2004 Honors Ceremony. Teresa Beyer won the Fitzsimmons Award for Public History in recognition of her excellent research and her website documenting the Banning Cotton Mill in Carroll County. Erin Brasfield won the Kennedy Award for the Best History Graduate Student of 2004. Erin completed her M.A. thesis/project documenting leisure time activities at prisoner of war camps in Europe during World War II.

UWG/AHC Museum Students and Graduates Participates in Georgia Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Rome, Georgia, in January 2004

West Georgia graduates and students pose for a photo at the
2004 GAMG meeting in Rome, Georgia

Current and recent graduates of the West Georgia and Atlanta History Center Museum Program converged at GAMG's Annual Meeting in Rome, Georgia, in January. Several current students--including Erin Brasfield, Amanda Mros, and Cynthia Rosers--received scholarships from GAMG. They were joined by current students Nikki Patterson and Teresa Beyer, funded by the university; Trey Gaines, currently working at the Bartow County History Center; and Amy Grundhoefer at the Marietta Museum of History. Mick Buck, the Center's Museum Curator, helped in the conference planning in his role as Registrar at the Rome Area History Museum. The conference sessions inspired all of us, including Drs. McCleary and Bailey.

Current students Teresa Beyer and Amy Grundhoefer Reed chat in front,
while Carey Tilley, Director of Chieftains Museum, and Trey Gaines compare notes
at 2004 GAMG meeting.

Most Recent Graduate of the Museum Studies Program Takes Job in Mississippi
December 2003

Emily at one of her first assignments for her new job:
attending the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, Mississippi!
Here he is enjoying a traditional catfish dinner.

Emily Erwin, the most recent graduate of our Museum Studies program, is returning to her alma mater, Delta State University, as Director of the Capps Museum and Archives. Emily completed her coursework in Public History at West Georgia and then accepted a position as Archives Collections Manager at the Atlanta History Center. While at the History Center, West Georgia began its Museum Studies program, so Emily began taking courses to complete the Museum Studies Certificate to add to her M.A. degree. With her archives experience at the History Center and her Museum Studies training through our program, Emily brings a strong background in both archives and museums to her new position. While we will miss Emily here in Atlanta, we wish her the best of luck in new position.

West Georgia and the Atlanta History Center Graduate First Class of Museum Students
summer 2002

From left to right: Diane Erdeljac, Carey Tilley, Arden Williams.

While some people might consider museums to be dusty attics, graduate students at the State University of West Georgia consider them exciting career opportunities. Even in times of economic crisis, museums are still working to preserve and interpret our history and culture, from natural to regional history, from art to science.

This August, the University of West Georgia and the Atlanta History Center graduated its first class of students to complete the new Museum Studies Certificate, offered through the graduate program in public history at West Georgia. These three students--Diane Erdeljac of Atlanta, GA; Arden Williams or Sharpsburg, GA.; and Carey Tilley, from Rome, GA—are now trained in professional museum standards and skills.

“Through the program, I have been able to experience the "museum world" first hand,” states Williams. She already is; all three students have found jobs and are currently working in the field. This new program is the first and only graduate program in Museum Studies in Georgia. Recognizing the need to train museum professionals, West Georgia associate professor of history Ann McCleary contacted the Atlanta History Center to ask about developing a course. In a meeting with Director Rick Beard and Education and Interpretation Director Pam Meister, they developed the concept of a core of museum classes to be offered jointly by their two institutions. McCleary directs the program through West Georgia and Meister coordinates the program for the History Center.

The 15-hour program requires students to take three museum studies classes, choosing from four courses offered on administration, collections management, exhibit development, and interpretation and education. The two other courses include a seminar on methods of studying material culture and a museum internship. According to Meister, “We developed our courses by asking what we would have liked to have known when we started working in museums, and went from there.”

The goal of the program is to provide hands-on learning for the students, using the History Center as a laboratory for study. The museum courses are taught at the AHC, where students take on projects such as cataloging items from the collections, developing exhibit concepts, and writing grant proposals. This practical quality of the program appeals to the students and provides better training. Williams notes, “This program has provided me with ‘hands-on’ experience not available in a classroom setting.” “I not only learned the theory I needed to pursue my goals,” adds Erdeljac, “but I also had the opportunity to practice that theory ‘on the spot,’ in a museum setting, among a variety of museum professionals!”

One of the program goals is to engage a wide variety of museum professionals in the program. History Center staff co-teach the courses with Dr. McCleary and offer guest lectures, presentations, and workshops. In addition, the classes bring in other museum staff and consultants from around the region, introducing students to the networks that will provide support for them in their future jobs. The program encourages students to attend museum conferences, like the Georgia Association of Museums conference held in January each year, to keep current with the field.

The new graduates are already busy. Diane Erdeljac is working as the new archivist for Piedmont Hospital, in Atlanta, which will be celebrating its centennial in three years. In preparation for the event, Erdeljac will be developing an archives and exhibit on the hospital’s history, along with a history and public programs. “I am able to relate everything I learned to what I am doing in my new career,” Erdeljac says.

Arden Williams works as an archivist at the National Archives in East Point. Williams, who is also trained in archives, hopes to be able to use her training in collections management as well as exhibit work at her new position.

Carey Tilley serves as the Director of the Chieftains Museum in Rome, Georgia. In his year directing the museum, Tilley has been able to directly apply what he was learning in class to his new job.

To learn more about the Museum Studies Certificate program, contact Dr. Ann McCleary, History Department, UWG, at 770-838-3031 or by email at . More information is also available on the website at

To be admitted to the program, students must either already hold an M.A. or be enrolled in a masters program in an academic field in which they hope to work, such as history, American Studies, art history, or natural history.
Erdeljac adds, “Not only was this an excellent learning experience, it was fun.”

West Georgia Students Attend Museum Conference (January 2002)

A group of West Georgia students and faculty attended the GAMG conference in Athens in January 2002. Three students—Trey Gaines, Laura Caldwell Anderson, and Diane Erdeljac, received student scholarships to attend the conference, and Arden Williams, who interned for GAMG director JoAnn Ray, assisted with the registration table.

Mark Barron presented a paper entitled "Adequately Re-housing Low Income Families": A Study of Race, Class, and Gender in the Architecture of Public Housing, Marietta, Georgia, 1938-1941” at the annual meeting of the Vernacular Architecture Forum in Williamsburg, Virginia, in May 2002. Mark also received a student fellowship from the VAF to attend the conference. He was asked to publish his paper in the upcoming Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, sponsored by the Vernacular Architecture Forum and published by University of Tennessee Press.

West Georgia students at the 2002 GAMG annual meeting in Augusta. Participants include Arden Williams, Carey Tilley, Laura Anderson, Diane Erdeljac, Deborah Thomas, Dr. Becky Bailey, and Dr. Ann McCleary

GAMG Summer Internships Offer Opportunities for Two West Georgia Students
(summer 2002)

 Three students worked in Georgia museums during the summer through the GAMG internship program.  This program provides $500 in funds, to match a contribution of this same amount from the institution, to pay an undergraduate or graduate student intern.  All interns must work approximately 140 to 160 hours on a project chosen by the museum.

The McDaniel-Tichenor House, in Monroe, Georgia, selected Mary Anne Hamblem, a graduate student in history at Georgia State University, to assist with a variety of activities.  During her ten-week internship, Ms. Hamblen conducted tours and assisted with a tour of the museum by the George Trust “Ramble”.  She participated in a heritage education program sponsored by the Georgia Trust and then developed a program for school age children at the McDaniel-Tichenor House.  Her most significant contribution was to help research and write a proposal to recreate a working heritage vegetable garden.   As a result of her internship, Hamblen writes, “I am now quite certain that my career path will be in historic museums, particularly in the area of education.”  According to Museum Manager Allison Ingui, the Museum was so pleased by her “exceptional abilities and talents” that she offered her a part-time position where Hamblen will continue to work on educational programs, grant writing, and publishing their first ever monthly newsletter.

Arden Williams, a museum studies student at the State University of West Georgia, completed an internship at the St. Simon’s Lighthouse Museum.  The museum is co-sponsoring an exhibition on the Sixties with the local library and the arts association this fall.  Museum Director Pat Morris wanted to do a lot of programming while the exhibit is in Brunswick, and she requested an intern to develop a teachers’ packet to be used in the middle and high schools on the 1960s in Georgia and particularly in Glynn County.  Arden created a packet that focused on four main sections:  civil rights, Vietnam, student protests, and music.  Arden hopes that the exhibit and the teachers’ packet will be a good opportunity to generate discussions about the 1960s, since most of the students will have relatives that can share their experiences.  Williams plans to apply the knowledge and insight that she developed from this project to her new job as an archivist at the National Archives in East Point, Georgia.

The third internship focused on processing the personal items and memorabilia surrounding the life and career of the artist Steffen Thomas at the Steffan Thomas Museum and Archives, in Buckhead, Georgia.  Intern Jessica Hendrickson, a May 2002 history graduate from Agnes Scott College, used her archives experience working on the Robert Frost Collection at ASC to organize the Thomas collection.  She sorted through boxes and containers previously kept at the Steffen Thomas home and categorized and housed them in the appropriate setting.  In her final report, Jessica writes “In general, I have learned the basic operation of a small non-profit art museum, including such aspects as fundraising and preservation of art.  I am glad that GAMG helped me select a museum, while giving me the necessary financial support to make the internship a success.”  To continue preparing for her career in public history, Jessica entered the Public History M.A. program at the University of West Georgia this fall.

GAMG welcomes all membership institutions to participate in the internship program.  For more information or for a copy of the internship guidelines, please contact Dr. Ann McCleary, GAMG Internship Coordinator, by email at or by phone at 770-838-3031.  We are very pleased with the success of this summer’s program and we hope to reach out to more museums in the next few years.

For more information on the Museum Studies Program, contact Dr. Ann McCleary, History Department, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA 30118, 678-839-6041

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