Hello again, welcome back!
If you scroll down to the previous post you will see it has been more than two years since my last blog post. Much has happened in that gap, and in the interest of reviving this blog it seems fitting to provide some context.
In the interim, I wrote, revised, defended, and passed my Master's Thesis, ultimately completing my time in Temple University's Public History Graduate Program. The title is "Queering Significance: What Preservationists Can Learn From How LGBTQ+ Philadelphians Ascribe Significance to History Sites." My thesis explores the ways in which LGBTQ+ individuals in Philadelphia ascribe significance to various places based on oral history interviews and additional primary source material collected initially for the National Park Service Northeast Regional Office’s LGBTQ+ Heritage Initiative. By examining stories from LGBTQ+ individuals of places that matter most to them in Philadelphia, this thesis argues that historic preservationists can expand their definition of significance to include personal testimony and broaden their practices to better engage the communities whose histories they seek to preserve. Should you be interested in reading more about this, my thesis is available through the Temple University Library [here].
For six months after graduation in May of 2018 I did what post-grads usually do: I applied for jobs and networked, along with some summertime adventures to keep myself sane. I have since returned home to Reading, Pennsylvania to see how my skills could benefit my community, and in doing so I became more active in my church community. Sometime in the not-too-distant future I'll be undertaking a digitization project to ease accessibility to the church's records (financial, foundation, and whatever other documents the governing body deems important).
Most excitingly, back in October I accepted a position with the Organization of American Historian's Public History program as their Public History Program Associate. I serve on a contractual basis as a manager for projects organized as part of the OAH's partnership with the National Park Service. I am the first point of contact for researchers on more than twenty projects, which range from administrative histories of parks to special history studies which contribute to the narratives interpreted at different parks and sites. Alongside Paul Zwirecki, the OAH Public History Program Manager, I contact and contract researchers for these studies, and manage the projects' schedules and monitor their budgets. It is a fast-paced and thrilling experience, and I've had the pleasure of meeting many of the field's outstanding public historians.
This photo comes from a visit to Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland; specifically their Misty Mount Camp, the first camp completed in the park in 1937 by the Works Progress Administration. I visited here with OAH in October 2018 as part of a project startup/site visit for an administrative history of the park!
Although I don't have an abundance of time to dedicate to new research of my own, there are some important stories I've uncovered in the past year or so that I want to share with you here. To that end, I aim to post here more often. So welcome back, and I look forward to some thoughtful comments here in the near future.