Using centuries-old techniques, Sam Houston State University senior history major, Joshua Rachita is helping preserve a part of American history. Working at Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum in Virginia, Rachita is expanding his handcrafted metalwork skills through a blacksmithing summer internship.
Rachita has worked at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum for almost three years, starting as a volunteer and working his way up to a part-time historical interpreter in the blacksmith shop on-site where he gives historical demonstrations.
He gained an interest in blacksmithing after going through a metalworking merit badge class at a Boy Scout summer camp. From there, Rachita got involved with the Houston Area Blacksmithing Association and has been a part of the time-honored craft for the past five years.
The location of Rachita’s internship is special to him, as the site is respected in the museum and historic trade communities and is special to his family.
“My grandfather and his family went for the first time in 1957 and he brought his family back almost every year since 1968,” Rachita said. “I was thrilled to get the internship, especially because this is the first time I am receiving long term instruction specifically in historic blacksmithing.”
Colonial Williamsburg’s reputation as one of the best places for training smiths in hand forging in the country excited Rachita further.
He attributes his success as a historian and interpreter to SHSU and the Sam Houston Memorial Museum.
“My time as a student at Sam has played a huge role in the historian I am today. I have learned how to do research, think critically on my sources and articulate that professionally,” Rachita said. “The Sam Houston Memorial Museum has furthered that education by giving me a place to practice being a historian and by teaching me the aspects of being an interpreter and working in the field of public history. Both gave me the experience and knowledge needed to be successful here at CW.”
Rachita believes his experience at Colonial Williamsburg will allow him build on what he has learned, to help him reach his fullest potential as a student and interpreter. He is grateful to both the museum and the history department for encouraging and enabling him to succeed at his internship.