Hi everyone!

Hey y’all, I’m Corinne! There are a few things that I always lead with when introducing myself, so here’s some of the more relevant basics: I was born and raised in Seattle, got my bachelor’s degree at Sarah Lawrence College in May of 2022, and am currently in my second semester of the public history MA program and a graduate fellow with the Humanities Truck right here at AU. Now that I’ve got that barest of minimums out of the way, time for a probably way too long explanation of how I got here in the first place!

So I was born the youngest of three (only because I was upside down and my twin sister wasn’t, I swear) to Oklahoman and Georgian parents who had driven from Alaska down to Seattle a couple years earlier. I had a pretty normal PNW childhood – soccer, lots of flannels, camping, absolutely refusing to use an umbrella. In high school I pretty much just enjoyed my history classes and volunteered with a restorative justice program at my school, then went off to college thinking I’d study politics and history and go to law school. After going to one pre-law meeting, however, I decided law school actually sounded like a nightmare, so instead I chose the two most useful degree concentrations of all time: history and film. Clearly the two most easily employable fields ever.

Bronx River Reflections, shot entirely on smartphones and made from concept to final cut in one semester!

In my work with history, I really focused on 20th century political movements, especially anti-colonial nationalism in practice and the way nationalism functions as a tool more generally. In my film classes I did a bit of everything in the production and post-production phases, and in my final semester I and three other people in my class (plus a very talented composer I know) made a documentary about the Bronx River over the course of a semester! All of this came together to make me really love telling stories and understanding how narrative uses emotions to create community, history, and identity to inspire positive and negative action.

I knew that more school was coming my way, and I also knew I didn’t want to be in a field where the only people who cared about my work were other academics with the same niche interests as me. I looked for more public-focused options, found public history, and it immediately felt right up my alley!

Since getting to DC, I’ve been doing lots of on-the-ground work with the Humanities Truck, from event planning to interviewing to archiving. I’ve also focused in classes on ways to utilize different forms of media to make history engaging, accessible, and relevant to more people who don’t think they care about history. One of my projects from last semester was a map of Seattle with edited audio clips from oral histories pinned around the city sharing how Black and Asian men were at times excluded or welcomed into labor movements of the early 20th century. This semester and moving forward, I hope to do more projects like this, that can be used in educational spaces and on the street to get people engaged in their own local histories and remind them that history is everywhere, it’s always being made, and they always have and will play a role in it!

Vincent Gonzalez Introduction

My name is Vincent Gonzalez, I am a first year Public History MA student at American University.

I am originally from southern California and moved to Washington, D.C. following my undergraduate completion in 2018. I earned a B.A. in History from California State University, Fullerton and began my career in D.C. with two congressional internships for Congressmembers before earning a permanent full-time position in Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s office. After 3 years moving up in the office, I made the decision to leave the Hill and pursue a career in history by accepting an offer to join the Public History M.A. program at American University. Shortly after, I accepted a position with the United States Capitol Historical Society (USCHS) where I currently work while attending part-time classes in the evenings.

As part of my graduate studies in public history, I hope to gain knowledge on how the USCHS can improve its digital presence and utilize resources afforded to me as part of this program. I also hope to access the vast network in public history American University offers to widen my knowledge of and network in public history.

Introducing Katie Peter

Hi everyone! I’m Katie Peter, a second year in the Public History MA program at AU. I am originally from Buffalo, New York, which means I am contractually obligated to remind you that this is the year the Bills are going to win the Superbowl (if we say it every year, one year we’ll have to be right). Growing up in my beloved, snowy, rust-belt city, I fell in love with local history at a young age. By fourth grade, I was already building dioramas of the McKinley assassination to tell my class my favorite thing about New York State. I was also reading every biography and historical fiction book I could get my hands on. Thus began my journey as a weird history kid (pictured below, excited to crush my sisters in trivia). 

Christmas morning 2009

As I got older, I thought I wanted to be a journalist because I loved telling true stories. Just like Kit Kittredge the American Girl, I established school papers in both middle school and high school. Then I got a little older and a little more jaded, and decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I graduated high school and entered college with every intention of going to law school. I was an American Studies and Political Science major at SUNY Geneseo with my sights set on the LSATs. 

Then I remembered I was a weird history kid. The Geneseo history department opened my eyes and showed me it was still possible to spend my life telling people my favorite stories. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in History and American Studies (I kept a political science minor) and got to read and write about a wide variety of topics, from urban planning, to women’s suffrage, to TV dads. In my senior year I completed a year-long project about the popular memory of blizzards in Buffalo. I conducted over thirty oral history interviews, and combed through decades of print and tv news to understand how people felt about the snow. Not only was it fun, but it was so rewarding to bring attention to the rich history of my own community. It inspired me to pursue a Master’s degree in public history because I wanted to share history with people.

At American University, I feel like I have come full circle. If only my younger self could see me now. For one, I met all of the other weird history kids who have now all congregated in Washington, DC. I have gotten to learn and experience so many cool things that I can hopefully bring into a career in the museum world. I also work as a public history fellow for the White House Historical Association, where I get to research and write about presidential history, just like I did as a fourth grader. My current research interests include (but are not limited to) first ladies and pop culture. My hope is that this course will help me to tell even more stories, make them more accessible, and share history with people.

Me and some of my friends from the public history program all dressed as American Girl Dolls. I am Kit, of course.

Introduction: Sara Ulanoski

Hi there! My name is Sara Ulanoski, and I am a first-year Public History Masters student at American University. I am from Louisville, Kentucky, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with bachelor’s in history and anthropology at the University of Louisville. I moved to Washington D.C. in August, and I have loved exploring the city so far. Some of my favorite things to do outside class and work are go to happy hour and explore the city.

Currently, I am a middle school Social Studies teacher at an all-virtual Catholic school based in Virginia. I have known since I was a freshman in college six years ago that I wanted to work in a museum, and I have had a passion for teaching for even longer than that. When I graduate, I plan to combine those two interests by pursuing a career in museum education. Outside of museum education, my interests in history are pretty broad, but my favorites are histories of social justice and social movements in the late 20th century. During undergrad, I wrote my senior thesis on Public History, social justice, and Japanese American Redress.

At American, I hope to learn more about community-based museum design, inclusive design, and the best practices within the field. I am excited for the practicum class I am taking this semester because our team will be working with the curators of the “Girlhood” exhibit in Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. In this class, I am most concerned with how historians can use technology to extend learning for students. I have already witnessed an amazing example of a museum using videogame technology to engage students with the history of Thanksgiving (I actually assigned this game to a few of my classes). Offering educators these types of tools can make a significant impact on changing how history is taught in schools for the better.

Introducing Myself: Jessica

Hello folks!

My name is Jessica Shainker, and I’m a first year Public History Masters student at American University. I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and I received my bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where I studied history with a concentration in public history. 

Selfie of Jessica Shainker wearing a tank top and a white bandana. In the background are trees and a scenic view of the bluffs overlooking the Buffalo River.
Hiking in the Ozarks!

While at Rhodes, I had the opportunity to intern at the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM) at the Lorraine Motel, the site of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. At the NCRM, I worked as a collections intern creating a finding aid for the museum’s institutional archives. I also worked as a research assistant for the curatorial team.

My time at the NCRM is what prompted me to study public history and the history of the American South. This was in 2018, when Black Lives Matter protests were at their highest peak yet and the city of Memphis was steeped in the historical memory of 1968. Not only was Southern history all around me; it felt strikingly relevant and deeply urgent. The unjust deaths of black men and women at the hands of the state were (and continue to be) hyper visible. Outdated rhetoric that remembers American history as idyllic was making a comeback on the political stage, and partisans on both sides of the aisle – but conservatives in particular – were drawing on skewed images of the past to justify their political goals. The history of my region was being deliberately misinterpreted and weaponized by people who only half understood it.

I want to communicate the true history of the American South to people of all political leanings in ways that are accessible, without holding back the tough stuff that folks might not want to hear. History can be deeply uncomfortable, and I want to help find ways to convey history accurately despite that discomfort.

I’m interested in digital history, exhibit design, and the history of the American South, especially the history of capitalism in the South during the Antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras. In this class, I’m most looking forward to learning about computational history and mapping technology. In a post-COVID world, digital exhibits are the best way to reach a broad public, and digital maps are fantastic ways to visually show change over time. And as a citizen of the 21st century, I want to take advantage of computing algorithms and all the other new tools available to perform innovative kinds of historical analysis. 

A few more notes about me: I go by Jessica or Jess. While I’ve lived in DC for the past few years, I recently moved into an apartment in Tenleytown with my boyfriend Ben. We like hiking, rock climbing, cooking, and playing video games with friends. I recently picked up knitting, which has filled my free time and made my fingers sore. My only regret is that I don’t get to live with the family dog, a ridiculous black lab named Oakley.

A black labrador sitting awkwardly on a couch. His back legs are splayed open and his tail is held between his front paws.
This is one of his standard sitting positions.

I’m looking forward to this semester and hope to learn all I can about digital history!