Hi, I’m Rebecca Kaliff!

Hello fellow historians!  My name is Rebecca Kaliff.  I am from Enfield, Connecticut and I am a first-year Public History graduate student.  I received my BA in History with a minor in Philosophy from American University in 2019.  During my undergraduate career, I was a member of AU’s Swimming & Diving team.  I also studied abroad in London where I took a full course load of British history classes and interned at a large criminal law firm.  My undergraduate thesis on the poppy—the international symbol of remembrance of the First World War—was inspired by my time in London during the Centennial of Armistice Day.

I currently work as a Teaching Assistant at an elementary school.  I also coach a competitive swim team—athletics have always been a big part of my life and I try to stay connected to the sport that shaped so much of who I am.  Outside of the classroom, I love traveling, hiking, and spending time with my family.  I also just got a puppy—Benji! I have never had a pet before, so it has been so much fun!


My historical interests include public memory and commemoration, U.S. Foreign Relations, and social movements.  I am passionate about history and education and hope to pursue a career in museum education, exhibit design, or government.

I am looking forward to Digital History Methods because I am not very knowledgeable of or experienced with the plethora of digital tools that are changing the way we do and experience history—I struggled to get into class last week on Zoom so that pretty much sums up my digital skills.   I am excited to get to know everyone throughout the semester and am excited to expand my skill set and learn how to engage and communicate with more people. Please feel free to reach out! 

My sisters and I admiring the Grand Canyon!

Mengshu’s Introduction

Hello everyone!

My name is Mengshu Ye, and I’m a first year graduate student in the Public History program. I graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2020, majoring in History and Asian and Asian American Studies. I am from Changchun, China. I moved to the US five years ago to start my undergraduate studies; my research interests include women’s history, Asian American history, and immigrant history.

I am looking forward to exploring different digital tools and learn how they influence the way historians communicating history. I am especially interested in the topics of Digital Analysis and Visualization, and Digital Exhibition. This is something I haven’t explored before in my studies and I am excited to learn another branch of documenting history. I hope that by understanding how new media is integral in preserving and interpreting historical documentation and objects, I can use these tools in the future when I want to present history in a thorough manner.

Practicum: Cleveland Historical, Wordclouds.com, and Historypin

Hello everyone! I hope that your weekend is going well so far. Today, I am going to be walking you through the practicum for this week, which are Cleveland Historical, Wordclouds.com, and Historypin. I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, weren’t we supposed to be doing PhilaPlace and Wordle?” We were supposed to, but unfortunately, those two websites are not working, so instead, we will be looking at Cleveland Historical and Wordclouds, which function similarly to those two.

Cleveland Historical

This is a website which allows you to discover a variety of historical locations in and around Cleveland, Ohio, learn about the history of these landmarks, and find out which of these locations offer tours.

Front page of the Cleveland Historical Website.

To begin using Cleveland Historical, you first interact with the Google Map on the front page. On the map are circles which indicate the number of historical sites in that part of Cleveland. As you click on the circles, the map zooms closer until it reveals pins on the map, which give the name of the sites.

Zooming in reveals the pins for the historical sites.

When you click on a pin, it will open up an article about that historical site. For example, I chose to explore the page for Grays Armory. There, I learned that the armory served as the headquarters for the Cleveland Grays, a local militia, but also served as a venue for military balls and orchestras. Additionally, the page gave me information about the address of Grays Armory, images, the official website, and links to tours which included the armory.

Article for the Grays Armory.

Overall, the website is a great resource for finding historical locations in the Cleveland area. The interactive map can help you discover where the historical sites of Cleveland are concentrated, and the articles that are associated with the pins gives enough information for the reader to learn about the sites, and if they choose, arrange to tour them.


Wordclouds is a web tool that allows you to create tag clouds, which are stylized collections of words that make up an image. The way that you make a tag cloud is by either copy/pasting text into its word processor, pasting a website URL in, or by uploading a file to the website, such as a PDF or a Word document. Once you have entered your desired text, it will randomly generate an image out of the text you have chosen, with word size being based upon the frequency of occurrence that a given word appears in the entered text.

This is the dropdown menu where you upload your text/file of choice.

Webcloud gives you a number of tools to customize your tag cloud. Take, for example, the tag cloud that I made, which was done with text from the Emancipation Proclamation. Initially, the shape and font style that it formed was random. However, I wanted my tag cloud to fit the text that I submitted better. To change the font style of my tag cloud, I went to the dropdown menu called “Font,” and changed it from block letters to a form of cursive. Next, I changed the shape that the cloud formed to resemble the United States, which I did from the “Shape” menu. Finally, I added a “Mask” to the cloud so that an outline of my shape would be visible behind the tag cloud. Here was my result:

My tag cloud, formed from the Emancipation Proclamation.

And your options are not limited to these either. There are other tools which let you change the aspect ratio of your tag cloud, the zoom-level of the image, the color, etc. My take-away from interacting with Wordcloud is that it’s a fun tool for making aesthetic and creative images, and which gives the creator a number of different possibilities for customization.


The final website we’ll discuss today is Historypin. This website is very similar to Cleveland Historical, in that it lets you discover historical sites through the usage of “pins” on a map. However, where Historypin differs from Cleveland Historical is that it allows online users to create pins, photos, articles, and collections for historical locations. Clicking on a map pin for a given location will open the collection of pins for that area. For example, below is a collection of pins for my hometown, which were created by my town’s historical society.

A collection for my hometown. Pins and collections can be found either by interacting with the map on the left, or by typing in a location.
Here, I am creating a pin on the map. In this case, I am making one for my local park, which I do by typing in either the name of the area, providing an exact address, or by dragging the pin around the map.

To begin making a pin or a collection of your own, you will first need to set up an account with Historypin, which can be done through your email, Google account, etc. Then, in the top right corner of the screen, you will click on your name to access your account, and then click on where it says “Create a Collection” or “Pin Something.” To create a pin, you will need to upload either a photo, video, audio, or text of your choice. Then, you need to name and describe the place you are pinning. You also have to choose your license of choice, which essentially dictates how other people are allowed to access and use your content. Finally, provide a date of the location you’re pinning, a location for your pin, and then lastly, pin it to the map. Add any tags you might be useful for people to find your pin. Once you have done this, you are all set, and your pin will be created.

Historypin is a great tool for discovering historical places both in your area, or even outside of it, especially ones which might otherwise be difficult to find. Going back to my town, I was able to find pins for historical churches, cemeteries, and monuments, dating back as far as the 1790s. Because pins can be created by anyone, anywhere, historic sites which might otherwise be overlooked can get recognized and explored by anyone who is interested.

Intro: Claudia Vinci

Hi everyone! My name is Claudia, and I am a first year in the Public History MA program. I am from Indianapolis, Indiana, but I just moved to DC a few weeks ago! I went to Butler University in Indianapolis for my undergrad, where I studied History, Political Science, International Studies, and Chinese. For my undergrad honors thesis, I studied the experiences of the two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II, Hazel Ying Lee and Maggie Gee, while also more broadly exploring themes in Chinese American history at that time. This project stemmed from a few of my main historical interests, which include women’s history, Chinese history, and military history. Right now, I am working in a work study position at the Department of Literature as their Graduate Coordinator, which has been great so far! I am also working with the 1882 Foundation in my practicum course, so I am excited to see where our project goes!

During my week in Prague, while I was studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland!

I decided to pursue a master’s in public history when I figured out, after a long time being unsure, that out all of my interests, history was the one that I wanted to have a career in. From a young age, I have been fortunate enough to travel to many different countries and exploring these cultures and visiting museums in these places also led me to this path. I have many career interests, but my top choices right now include curatorial work at a museum, a historical research or writing-related position, and working as a federal historian. My research projects and courses in history in undergrad were some of my favorite academic experiences, so it has been amazing delving back into this in public history, and now with digital history!

While I have not had a lot of direct experience in digital history, I am thrilled to learn more about it in this course. Digital history is such an important part of the field, especially now, and I look forward to improving my skills in this area to benefit my future work in public history. My past work at my undergrad university library had me working in similar areas, such as being trained in in various academic technology platforms and learning about information and media literacy, among other things. I also wrote personal blogs for both of my experiences abroad in undergrad, which include a semester in 2018 at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a summer internship in 2019 in Beijing, China. I really enjoyed doing this for these trips, so I am also excited to bring those skills to this course and our blog!

Introduction: Sajel Swartz

Hi Everyone!

My name is Sajel, and I’m currently studying at American University as part of their Public History Master’s program.

Me with my mom! 🙂

A little about me:

I’ve been living in D.C. and working full time at the DAR for the last several years; during that time I’ve also worked at a great local wine bar called Tyber Creek Wine Bar & Kitchen; if you are in D.C. in the Spring come check them out when they reopen! I spent most of my childhood in Kentucky, and returned to attend Centre College in Danville, KY for my undergraduate degree in History.

While I always had an interest in pursuing a career in the field of History, Public History became a more recent interest as a result of my work in Public Relations, where it became increasingly apparent to me how important the work of Public Historians can be. Although I ultimately hope to earn my PhD in History, I look forward to the opportunity to fully immerse myself as a professional in the Public History field.

In that same vein, I have been looking forward to participating in the History and New Media course. Media and the web have become an intrinsic part of living in the 21st century, and as such it is important not only that historians learn to utilize the tools available online, but also learn how to study these virtual aspects of life as new primary source material for understanding the past and present.

I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone! Please always feel free to reach out 🙂