A public history student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock began a new career leading a living history program at the National Pacific War Museum, which provides the country’s most comprehensive account of the Second World war in the Asia-Pacific theater.
Aaron Shuman, originally from Graham, Wash., Recently moved to Fredericksburg, Texas, to begin his new job as the museum experience coordinator at the museum, which preserves and exhibits the material history of the war in the Pacific and the ‘Indochina during World War II.
“The public history program has worked very well for me,” said Shuman. “I have a graduate assistant position at the Clinton Presidential Library, and my supervisor introduced me to my summer internship at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The skills I learned at both locations were critical. to get this job. “
The National War of the Pacific’s living history programs, hosted in the Pacific Combat Zone, include “Pride of the Pacific,” a live battlefield program, and “The Outposts,” an in-depth presentation. featuring WWII staff and volunteers. period uniforms or clothing use artifacts and items from the museum’s collection.
“Pride of the Pacific” is a live performance featuring landing craft, explosives and flamethrowers as members of the museum’s Company K. “The Outposts” includes discussions of weapons of war, Navy fighter jets, and communications during World War II. .
“One of the buildings in the museum is the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who led US naval forces in the Pacific during World War II,” said Shuman. “The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian, and is comparable in size to the Clinton Presidential Library. The Pacific Combat Zone is very unique, and many facilities do not have a separate building for living history programs. You see tanks going around and programs that use real flamethrowers. It’s not every day that you see these things that are over 75 years old and being used the way they were originally meant to be. “
Shuman’s new position gives him a real living history experience. Not only does it use machines and weapons from World War II, but it was temporarily housed at the Ruff Haus, a building that has over 100 years of history and was built by the city’s first German settlers.
Air Force veteran Shuman began the UA Little Rock’s graduate program in public history in January 2020, just a day after leaving military service.
“I was in the Air Force and realized that I didn’t want to be an aircraft mechanic forever,” Shuman said. “As a child I played war board games with my dad and got very interested in WWII. I was stationed at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa and then went to Little Air Force Base. Rock. I looked for a public history program in Arkansas, and lo and behold this very rare public history program was down the street. “
Shuman will be graduating in December and writing his dissertation on how presidential funerals reflect the lives and values of US presidents. As he nears the end of his masters degree, Shuman is still surprised at how much his life has changed since joining UA Little Rock.
“Two years ago I was changing the tires on a C-1301, and now I’m running a public history program at a national museum in Texas,” Shuman said. “It’s crazy how quickly things have changed. If the UA Little Rock program hadn’t had all these work opportunities to fill out my CV, I don’t think this opportunity would have happened. from mechanic to college student in less than two years. I never expected to do it so quickly. “