Diana, yes just like Wonder Woman.

Hello everyone! My name is Diana Chicas, and I am a part-time Public History student. I was born and raised in D.C., so the museums in the area inspired me to work in the field.

I went to undergrad here in D.C. and got my Bachelor’s degree in History from Trinity Washington University. I was lucky enough to have so many amazing professors that pushed me to pursue my goals. One of my professors helped me get an education department internship at the National Archives. I will always be thankful for the experience and knowledge I gained from that internship.

After graduating from Trinity, I decided to look for a part-time job like any other debt-ridden millennial. I was lucky enough to start working as a Museum Program Associate at President Lincoln’s Cottage a couple of months before graduating. My work there consists of leading tours and educational groups about the Civil War.

Hi, I’m Elisabeth!

I teach high school history (mostly U.S.) and am a part-time History MA student. I am studying at AU because I missed being a student and I want to develop my research skills.

I studied European History in the redwoods at U.C. Santa Cruz (go banana slugs!) a million years ago. After graduating, I worked at a charter school in Boston then studied history education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where I received an EdM in 2011. I taught history at the traditional public high school in Cambridge, MA until 2015 when I moved to D.C. For two years I worked at an international development organization on State Department funded projects supporting Iraqi higher education. During that time, I traveled to Erbil and Baghdad to help put on a national conference. I missed the classroom and history, so I returned to teaching in 2017. Lots of little careers so far!

I have a 1 and 1/2-year-old daughter and we watch a good amount of Sesame Street, so this felt right.

I am still narrowing my focus or my work at AU. For now I’ll say my interests include immigration and Latinx history and history of education. Oh, and how historians use memory and oral histories. I hope to deepen my knowledge base about immigration history with a focus on assimilationist education policies and community responses to them.

In this class, I am hoping to learn tools and approaches that I can use in my own research and in the classroom. I have been kicking around the idea of creating a collaborative and digital final project about a course theme or essential question to assign to my students — I hope this course helps me with that! I look forward to learning with you all this semester!

Hi everyone, I’m Carmen!

I am a first-year doctoral student in the Department of History pursuing my Ph.D. in History with a focus on public history and environmental [disaster] history. 

I earned my BA and MA in History with a concentration in Public History from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, in 2014, and 2016, respectively. Throughout my undergraduate experience and most of my Master’s experience, I was set on pursuing work as a curator in museums. During that time, I interned for six different establishments ranging from a local house museum in my hometown (Floyd, VA – consider saving up for a summer trip to FloydFest), to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, NC, to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum here in D.C. 

It was during my graduate experience, however, that my mentor introduced me to the field and practice of “oral history” (shout out David Cline). His Intro to Oral History course completely reoriented how I thought about the practice of public history – I moved from focusing on how to share traditional history with the public in innovative ways to an emphasis on pubic history as a tool for decolonization and social justice. I had the humbling opportunity to participate in the creation of the VT LGBTQ+ Oral History Project and the development of the VT Stories initiative. Most fortunate of all, however, I was able to secure a job following graduation (read: several months AFTER graduation) as the Oral Historian at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Over the past three years at W&M, I had the great opportunity to travel around the country interviewing W&M community members as part of an effort to make the W&M Library archives more representative of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni who make up the institution’s community. I was constantly challenged to consider the ethics of the oral history practice, the Westernized/anglicized approach to interviewing, and the importance of holding space for narrative (or knowing when someone else should be in that space other than myself). 

Kate Haulman told me last semester that I speak in paragraphs (she SAYS she meant it as a complement, but…) so I will try to wrap this up. I am now at AU pursuing a Ph.D. in History for two reasons: first, I have what second-year Ph.D., Alex Zaremba, calls “the bug,” meaning, I had research interests and questions that I would not have had the opportunity to pursue had I not returned, and second, because I want to be able to continue being an oral historian but expand my skillset and range of opportunity for doing so. So here I am, studying oral history, public memory, and disaster studies (if you’re interested in how I ended up studying natural/human-made disasters, I will be happy to speak paragraphs about it whenever you wish). 

I am excited to be taking Digital History because I am interested in methods of demonstrating spatial history — particularly communities are impacted by and respond to disaster events within both rural and urban environments. Digital tools for mapping have a HUGE capacity for representing this data, privileging personal narratives, and democratizing access to this history, and I am eager to put some to use through this course. I look forward to working with and alongside you all!

Defining Digital History and the Public It Serves

Hey everyone! Today, I wanted to sort of unpack the final four readings for the week. In total, the assigned readings this week give us a sense of the definition and theory behind “digital history,” but the last half of these readings wades into “who” does digital history and “who” consumes it.

In terms of the “whodunit,” there are many answers: anyone can do digital history—but who really needs to? According to “Digital History and Argument,” a White Paper document, there is a discrepancy between “digital historians” and every day academics. Although the two aspects of “doing” history naturally feed into each other, there seems to be a barrier between the two methodologies of digital work and more traditional research methods. Essentially, this white paper shows that digital methods can benefit academics, and vice versa… if only they partner up! As a result, many benefits await: non-linear research, pattern identification, and visualization of history, to name just a few.

An interview with “feminist digital historian” Sharon Leon dug a bit deeper, showing the discrepancies within the field of digital history itself—she emphasized that while there is an improved balance in the number of female digital historians today, there is an ethnic and racial gap that must be overcome by those in the field. Furthermore, she made a point which I’d love to discuss in class or in the comments below: the difference between public history and history in public. Is this differentiation important? Why? What implications does this statement have for those of us that plan to work in the field, and how can it color our own work?

Leon’s point here about taking digital history public leads to the last two readings this week, which really pinpoint the universality or vastness of interaction allowed by digital history. Spiro’s “Getting Started in the Humanities” blog post is a how-to-guide for engaging in this type of work, with helpful links, trainings, tips, and more. Often in academic history, issues of “gatekeeping” come up. Here, it seems like digital history is for everyone! The blog post’s accessibility level really shows the improvement in the realm of interaction and openness that digital history has, compared to traditional academic history.

This brings me to the final—and perhaps most interesting—of the articles. Slate’s article titled “Snapshots of History: Wildly popular accounts like @HistoryInPics are bad for history, bad for Twitter, and bad for you” is exactly what it sounds like… a rebuttal against the accessible, but often inaccurate, use of social media pages for disseminating quick history. Not only that, but the article details the detriment that these easy-peasy forms of historical consumption have on the public’s curiosity. When a fast fact is packaged in front of you, without sources or further reading, its audience is unlikely to desire or chase personal inquiry. I’d like to end on this topic, and ask you all—what effect does the “simplification” of interaction with history for the masses have on public consumption of history? Do we prioritize accessibility for all or accuracy, provenance, and context for all? Can we have our cake and eat it too?

Hi, I’m Sarah (F!)

I’m a first year Public History MA student here, like many of my peers! Born and raised in Pennsylvania, I learned from a young age to love history (specifically, the Gettysburg Address). In 2019, I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where I studied history, theatre arts, and French. While I was there, I worked at the historic house museum of Henry Clay Frick– you’ll quickly learn that I am a house museums girl. 😉 In addition, I completed my undergraduate thesis, titled “‘Our Happy Domestic Home’: Queen Victoria, Separate Spheres, and the British Sovereign’s Popularity in America.” My research focus at AU continues to be Victorian England and Gilded Age America.

#YasQueen

I chose to start the program at AU because of its amazing proximity to Washington, D.C. and the world-class museums and historic sites in the area. Last summer, I interned at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in the Education Department, where I was introduced to many cool, digital techniques for learning history that can be used in the classroom!

Now, I work at White House Historical Association as a History Fellow, and my job is to coordinate social media posts, as well as conduct research for their Slavery in the President’s Neighborhood Initiative (launching next month!) I hope that this course in digital history methods will improve my work performance and strengthen my understanding of the theory behind the practice!