Introducing: Megan Henry

Hello everyone! My name is Megan Henry, and I am a first-year in the Public History MA program. I am also a graduate fellow with the Humanities Truck here at AU. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Dayton, Ohio, which is in the Southwestern part of the state. Despite my place of origin, however, most certainly NOT a Buckeye; I am a Michigan fan, and I will be until the day I die. I was more of a bookworm than a history buff as a kid, as I read every book I could get my hands on. However, in the third grade, I read a book called Jacob’s Rescue: A Holocaust Story by Malka Drucker and Michael Halperin about four times in a row, and it left an indelible mark upon me. Reading Elie Wiesel’s Night several years later in the ninth grade sealed my fate: history was to be my passion in life.

I stayed in my hometown for college, attending Wright State University, and it was at this time that I fell in love with Dayton’s rich, often overlooked history. Any one of my friends will tell you that I am more than a little obsessed with the Wright Brothers (and even more obsessed with their sister Katharine). During undergrad, I worked at my local museum, whose entire focus is on Dayton’s history. As I dug more into the archives and the history presented at the museum I saw my history. I saw pictures of the Wright brothers flying their extraordinary flying machine in a field that is five minutes from my childhood home, I saw a lightbulb filled with flood waters that had rushed through streets I walked a hundred times, and I saw my great-grandfather’s name on a plaque for specially recognized employees at one of Dayton’s most famous companies (the National Cash Register Company, for anyone curious). Seeing myself in the history the museum was presenting was so special, but not everyone would have that same experience. Peoples who have been historically marginalized often do not see themselves in the histories written in print nor in the histories presented in historical institutions. I developed a passion for inclusive history-making, one that has places like local history museums properly reflect the communities they are meant to represent. 

The National Cash Register Company plaque that contains the name of my great-grandfather: James Donaldson Connell Jr.

Alongside my passion for inclusive, community-engaging history at the local level, I am also passionate about historical accessibility. I want to serve as a connector and communicator, bridging the gap that often exists between the nebulous entity that history can be and the general public. Digital history allows more people to have access to history and historical materials than ever before, and the career I wish to pursue in the future, working in preserving and presenting local and community history, will certainly involve a significant element of digital history. I am excited to see what tools this course can provide for furthering accessibility to history for everyone.