Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Monday, August 27, 2007

Docent? What's a Docent?

Wikipedia has an entry on Docents: .....Museum docents are are educators, trained to further the public's understanding of the cultural and historical collections of the institution. In many cases, docents, in addition to their prescribed function as guides, also conduct research utilizing the institution's facilities. They are normally volunteers.

A Destroyer Escort (like the USS Slater) is a small ship that was mass produced during WWII (ultimately 573 were built). Because it's a small ship a visitor could get a quick walk-through tour in 20 minutes. If we geared the Slater Experience as a quick walk-through tour we would have to restrict the route for safety reasons. We would also have to secure (hide or cover in plexiglass) numerous artifacts that were used on the ship.

The USS Slater is representative of hundreds of similar Escort-type ships. Quick walk-through tours would focus on hardware, and (by and large) deprive the visitor of experience relating to these ships, and the thousands of sailors who served on them.

The USS Slater Tour Guide Manual explains this in more detail:

.....The primary mission of the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum is to utilize the SLATER as an education platform to teach our youth and visitors about the contributions of the destroyer escorts in World War II and the postwar Navy, and to keep alive the history spirit and technology of these vessels and the men and women who built and manned them.

To accomplish this we collect, maintain, display and interpret artifacts and documents relating to the role of the destroyer escorts in the United States Navy during World War II and the postwar years. The primary emphasis is the authentic restoration and display of the destroyer escort USS SLATER DE766 in her 1945 configuration with all the equipment and artifacts she would have carried at that time.

Visitors to the USS SLATER come to learn what life was like aboard a Destroyer Escort during World War II. Our restorers have been devoting their time and talents to restore the ship, and have done a remarkable job to make the ship what it is today. But that work is meaningless without a core of equally dedicated and knowledgeable tour guides to interpret the SLATER to the public. It is you who interact with the public that have the greatest influence on our reputation and the greatest responsibility for fulfilling our educational mission. To put the best possible impression of the SLATER to the public we ask that you present yourselves in a professional manner at all times, be conscious of the attention span of the members of your group, and ask you to present a sharp appearance so that our visitors, civic leaders and members of the media recognize us as a first class team. We want our visitors to step back in time and get the flavor of what Navy life was on a destroyer escort sixty years ago. You are the key part of that experience. ....

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