Hi everyone! My name is Sam Burnett, and I am a first-year Public History MA student at American University. I am originally from Syracuse, New York, a.k.a America’s snowiest city— a distinction we take very seriously! Like any central New Yorker, I am also an ardent defender of Wegmans, Heid’s hotdogs, the Erie Canal, and all things pizza-related.
Despite bleeding orange at heart, I left the snowy tundra and spent the last four years of my life completing my undergraduate studies in History and Biology at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. While a junior at Loyola, I randomly chose to register for a seminar called “History of the Intellectually Disabled.” I was merely hoping to satisfy the university’s core diversity requirement and grab a few extra credits in the process but, instead, I emerged from the course with an improved understanding of history and a research interest I was actually passionate about.
Eventually, I went on to complete my undergraduate History Honors thesis which similarly focused on the interaction between British Victorian perceptions of disability, popular 19th-century folklore, as well as emerging ideas of evolution and race. It was in writing my undergraduate thesis that I became increasingly interested in the powerful potential of public history. Specifically, having been emersed in the scholarship of a vastly understudied field, the ability of public history to bring chosen narratives to the forefront of an audience’s consciousness held great appeal. Moreover, as disability history is a major research focus of mine, issues concerning (digital) disability accessibility seem to naturally interest me! All in all, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of digital history methodologies, especially in regard to design.