- Associated Press - Sunday, June 29, 2014

DEADWOOD, S.D. (AP) - How many interns can say they’ve witnessed a simultaneous Native American/Dao master remains internment ceremony or been instrumental in cataloging one quarter of a million artifacts from the Chinatown excavation?

There are actually two young people in Deadwood with this sort of claim to fame. Chase Job and Matt Hodson are working as interns for the Historic Preservation office, and both say their experiences have been, well, sort of on the historic side.

Job, in his second year of summer employment with the Historic Preservation Office, graduated from Lead-Deadwood High School in May and plans to attend the University of Mary at Bismarck, majoring in respiratory therapy.

Hodson, a Spearfish High School graduate, will be a junior at Madison at Dakota State University next year and is majoring in computer science. This is his fifth year as part of the Historic Preservation Internship Program.

Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker said his office has been using collections interns to assist in accessioning the variety of city-owned collections for several years.

“Through this program we provide high school and/or college students a real ‘hands on’ experience working in an archives and collections repository,” Kuchenbecker said. “Several of our interns have entered fields associated with history, which is exciting for me as the Historic Preservation Officer. In fact, an internship program with a local Main Street program is where I found my calling for historic preservation, downtown revitalization and heritage tourism.”

While Job’s studies may take him far from the archives and annals in the basement of Deadwood City Hall, Job said the job has given him invaluable experience, as well as a more intimate knowledge of Deadwood’s history.

“Dealing with people and people skills,” Job said. “We deal with a lot of different people. And organization is definitely one of the biggest skills we learn. We also help put together exhibits and display stuff, so we’ve learned how to make high quality exhibits. I’ve written paragraphs for the exhibits and helped with the Century Awards. We also work on Excel a lot.”

While Job’s main focus for the summer is helping accession the city’s gargantuan Chinatown collection, excavated from 2001 to 2004, he also has side projects.

He is currently going through historic newspapers, searching for articles on Deadwood baseball from 1904 to 1920.

“They’ll be used for panels that will travel throughout South Dakota,” Job said. “One of our big projects is the Chinatown collection. We’re currently on 2002, inventorying artifacts.”

One of the most fascinating objects Job has seen during his two-year tenure is a revolver, found in pretty tough shape, that was refurbished.

“It looked completely corroded. You couldn’t even tell it was a gun. It looked like a rock,” Job said. “Now this is what it looks like. So that’s pretty cool.”

Hodson said that while computer science may be a stretch when it comes to bridging the world of history and computers for applicable internship experiences, it’s really not too far off base.

“We use computers here a lot,” Hodson said. “I’ve also learned a whole lot more about where stuff goes here and about what people do with things after they’ve been excavated. You don’t just get rid of it. It’s packaged up and put on a shelf . they’ll hold on to it forever.”

Deadwood City Archivist Mike Runge, who works closely with and directs the work of the interns, said they benefit the entire Historic Preservation Office in multiple ways.

“They get the experience of working in a professional setting. They not only get to see bricks and mortar, but are also dealing with the collection the city owns,” Runge said. “With archaeology, a quarter of a million artifacts are pretty daunting. I can assign them tasks and because of what they’ve done, looking for stuff is much easier. I hope that while they’re doing this, they learn a valuable asset which will help them during their college careers, which is how to be organized.”

Hodson said his newfound knowledge of archiving is a definite possibility for use later in life.

“We’ve learned about archiving and how to preserve stuff,” Hodson said. “It’s a lot more than you’d think. Acid-free tissue, boxes, no glues, you just learn a lot.”

Hodson learned about no glue firsthand, as one of his projects was to salvage a historic map that had been glued to poster board.

“I used a hair dryer to melt the glue and make it malleable, so I could get a staple remover underneath there and slowly work my way underneath,” Hodson said.

The two can also be found about town, setting history down in photographs and video footage. The Rotary Park and St. Ambrose Cemetery transformations are two the duo will document over the summer.

“It’s definitely been a good experience,” Job said. “Learning what everything does around here and how planning and zoning and historic preservation works. It’s definitely a very neat job. I’ll be back in the future.”

“It’s a different job every day,” Hodson said. “I’ve learned a lot. I lived in Spearfish, so I didn’t know a lot about Deadwood. I didn’t know it was a National Historic Landmark, and I’ve learned a lot about other people than Wild Bill and the whole history of the community and historic preservation guidelines.”

“It’s been a God-send, a blessing to have them and to get to know them,” Runge said.

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com

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