Mattea Sanders

Wing Historian, US Air Force

Mattea Sanders on the tarmc with US jet.

Class of 2014

In my role as a Wing Historian with the US Air Force, I work on documentation and writing, oral history, outreach, archives, and exhibits. I produce an Annual Command History each year which is a collection of documents and studies about what has occurred within the unit in that year. I also conduct oral histories with commanders and individuals during events. I conduct community outreach including giving tours, briefs, and producing displays to help the community better understand the history of the installation. I also manage the Base Archive of newspapers, unit histories, and historical property. I also recently conducted a wing history video.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was The opportunities to network with multiple organizations and professionals across the federal government. I was able to explore the idea of being an archivist, curator, historic preservationist, etc. and discover what I really enjoyed doing. I appreciated having an environment that allowed me to explore the possibilities and then decide what I didn't want to do.

The Public History Program prepared me for my current job through Giving me a great cross section of the field and the connections to be able to make that happen. When I started this position I had not done much work in exhibits, I was able to go back to my course work and remember how to write exhibit labels. You learn skills that you are going to able to take into an interview and sell yourself for the job in addition to making you successful once you are in the position.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with Both a personal and professional set of friends to have a sounding board as I have grown my career. I routinely returned to AU faculty and partners to ask for advice as I have made major career decisions. Connections with partners and alumni have also opened doors as I made looked into new positions or as I had interviews to be able to learn more about the position and to not go into the interview cold.

AU's Public History program set me up for success to be able to have the network within D.C., internships, and skills to be able to build and then obtain my dream position in the Federal Government. I have the foundation to build a career in public history and to know that I have a community to return to continue to engage in learning and broadening my skills.

I’m involved in the professional world through Professional organizations including the Society for History in the Federal Government in which I serve as the Vice President, the National Council on Public History's Government Historians Committee, and Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region Executive Board. I also routinely present at conferences including the Society for Military History.

Curtis Harris

PhD Candidate, American University

Curtis Harris.

Class of 2014

Every job I've held since entering and graduating from the Public History program has involved public history.

Curtis is completing a dissertation on professional basketball and its history of labor and race relations in the mid-20th century.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… Seminar discussions and field trips.

The Public History Program at AU prepared me for my current job through… Academic research skills. Also adapting academic research for lay audiences who are interested, but not experts, in my subject matter.

With my MA from AU’s Public History program I am confident that… I can communicate information accurately but concisely while being able to provide more in-depth explanations when needed.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with… Skills and connections that have made some of my basketball history easier, particularly the connections I made at the American History Museum via my mandatory internship there.

Rebecca Brenner Graham

History Teacher, Madeira School, & AU PhD Candidate

Rebecca Brenner Graham in the classroom.

Class of 2017

Public History at AU taught me to think critically about these issues and to seriously consider what public history means. Public history has its own historiography and is in many ways a movement to make historical thinking and critical analysis accessible to broader audiences and to share authority with them.

I’m involved in the professional world through…my ongoing affiliations with professional societies including the National Council for Public History (NCPH), Oral History Association (OHA), Society for US Intellectual History (S-USIH), Organization of American Historians (OAH), and more. In DC, within the last year I attended networking receptions for NCPH and the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG). I always enjoy making new friends in the field, sharing ideas, and supporting each other in the public history community. 

As History Teacher at an all-girls college-preparatory boarding/day school, I currently teach 11th grade American history, 10th grade modern world, and the 12th grade Philosophy and Religion electives. My masters with a concentration in public history from American University has been formative.

Check out Rebecca’s op-eds in the Washington Post’s Made by History series.

Joan Cummins

Program Assistant, President Lincoln's Cottage

Joan Cummins with the Open Field Project.

Class of 2017

As a public historian and artist, I have always been interested in non-traditional and interdisciplinary approaches. My experience in the program helped me discover ways it might be possible to pursue those goals as I continue to build a career — and introduced me to the breadth of organizations bringing history to the public.

In my current job I produce, support, and develop public and educational programming for a historic house and museum in Washington, DC. Provide exemplary interpretation of the site, coordinate school groups and group tours, and plan operations for our week-long summer residential anti-trafficking activism program. Produce, co-host, and edit the two-time award-winning Q&Abe podcast, which takes real visitor questions we've gotten onsite we wish we could spend a long time answering and delves into them.

Callie Hopkins

Exhibit Coordinator, Gallagher & Associates

Callie Hopkins.

Class of 2019

G&A is a museum exhibit design firm, and our exhibit projects are often large, complex, multi-year endeavors. As an exhibit coordinator, my job is to wrangle all the pieces of a project and keep them moving forward. On any given day, this might mean anything from proofreading exhibit text to licensing photos for use in our graphic design to meeting with a client to discuss artifact selection. That's one of the things I like most about my job - every day and every project is a little bit different!

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… the amazing, smart, thoughtful, talented group of people I met through the program.

The Public History Program at AU prepared me for my current job through… teaching me how to manage time and how to work with partners and clients. In particular, my practicum with Dupont Underground was basically a test run for the type of work I now do on a daily basis.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with… connections, job opportunities, and great friends.

Elizabeth Gonzalez

Bill Clerk, US House of Representatives

Elizabeth Gonzalez

Class of 2018

I moved to DC with every intention of pursuing a museum job, becoming a "Hill Staffer" was never in my mind. However, once I began working within the Clerk's Office, I realized how many historian skills are utilized as a bill clerk. I actively organize primary documents for archive storage, I synthesize details during bill processing, and I utilize clear communication when interacting with member office staff. All of these skills were honed while earning my MA in Public History at American University.

Elizabeth processes introduced measures for the House of Representatives, communicates with Congressional Member offices regarding bills and floor proceedings, and archives annual legislation with the Library of Congress

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… Learning with a diverse and engaging cohort!

The Public History Program at AU prepared me for my current job through… Document management and archive techniques. The ability to analyze and process information under time constraints.

Sydney Rhodes

Senior Exhibit Coordinator, Gallagher & Associates

Syndey Rhodes on set.

Class of 2014

Exhibits Coordinators are the bridge that connect all aspects and team members of a project. We work to ensure that all details of the project — physical assets, detailed drawings, and client comments — are successfully incorporated into the physical and digital design.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… Creating a network with my cohort and professionals in Washington, DC.

The Public History program at AU opened my eyes to several career paths that I was not aware of. Getting to make important connections in the program helped me decide the career path that I wanted to take.

The Public History Program at AU prepared me for my current job through… learning many different ways to convey a story to the public.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with… a network and mentorship that I can keep going back to.

I’m involved in the professional world through…my exhibition work and working as the intern director for current MA students at Gallagher & Associates.

Melyssa Laureano

Programs Associate, DC Preservation League

Melyssa Laureano.

Class of 2019

As the DC Preservation Leagues' Programs Associate, I administer the bulk of the organization's educational programming and serve as staff lead for DCPL’s Education Committee and collaborates with committee volunteers to organize educational activities about historic preservation in DC. These programs include tours of historic sites, workshops, and lectures. I also manages DCPL’s social media presence across a variety of platforms.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… Being able to learn and grow professionally as a public historian with colleagues in my cohort. We learned from our professors, but also one another. This was especially true during our practicum, where we worked in groups to create community projects and exhibits using the Humanities Truck.

Lina Mann

White House Historian, White House Historical Association

Lina Mann hiking.

Class of 2019

AU’s Public History Program has provided me with a wonderful community of fellow scholars and public historians who are all interested in talking about history in new and unique ways. They constantly keep me on my toes and encourage me to keep learning and growing, even post-graduation.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… the cohort aspect of the program. I really liked that I got to build a network of other people in my field and trade ideas with them as we went through the program. It helped build trust and relationships. Today, I call on my friends from the program all the time. We assist each other in research requests especially if one of us has something not in our realm of expertise. We also all work at very different institutions, but it is great to know people throughout the DC area doing the same work.

With my MA from AU’s Public History program I am confident that… I learned valuable skills to make me successful in the field and developed incredibly important connections and networks.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with… a wonderful community of fellow scholars and public historians who are all interested in talking about history in new and unique ways. They constantly keep me on my toes and encourage me to keep learning and growing, even post graduation.

Samantha Hunter

Education Outreach Manager, RI Historical Society

Samantha Hunter, Rhode Island Historical Society.

Class of 2017

AU’s Public History Program has provided me with a wonderful community of fellow scholars and public historians who are all interested in talking about history in new and unique ways. They constantly keep me on my toes and encourage me to keep learning and growing, even post-graduation.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… the cohort aspect of the program. I really liked that I got to build a network of other people in my field and trade ideas with them as we went through the program. It helped build trust and relationships. Today, I call on my friends from the program all the time. We assist each other in research requests especially if one of us has something not in our realm of expertise. We also all work at very different institutions, but it is great to know people throughout the DC area doing the same work.

With my MA from AU’s Public History program I am confident that… I learned valuable skills to make me successful in the field and developed incredibly important connections and networks.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with… a wonderful community of fellow scholars and public historians who are all interested in talking about history in new and unique ways. They constantly keep me on my toes and encourage me to keep learning and growing, even post graduation.

Hannah Byrne

Program Assistant, Smithsonian Institution Archives

Hannah Byrne

Class of 2019

I work to preserve, research, and share the history of the Smithsonian. I help manage and process oral history interviews in the Smithsonian Oral History Program, conduct research on the Institution, work on public projects, and offer reference for researchers.

The Public History Program at AU prepared me for my current job through… coursework that challenged me to be a better researcher, collaborator, and writer for a wide range of public and academic audiences.

AU’s Public History Community has provided me with… A cohort of peers and mentors who I constantly turn to for feedback, constructive criticism, advice, and encouragement.

I’m involved in the professional world through… Working with the DC History Conference Committee, the DC Oral History Collaborative, and the Oral History Association's local arrangements committee.

Zack Klitzman

Editorial Assistant, Library of Congress Publishing Office

Zach Klitzman

Class of 2016

The Library of Congress Publishing Office publishes books and other products that showcase the Library’s collections, services, and scholarship. As editorial assistant, I work with my colleagues on all stages of book production—from assessing a proposal’s merits, copyediting manuscripts, and securing permissions to writing sidebars, proofing indexes, suggesting cover art, and uploading metadata to our project database.

My favorite part of my AU Public History experience was… interacting with fellow passionate public historians. All of our conversations, field trips, group projects, happy hours, and study sessions provided a great sense of camaraderie that helped me with the demands of grad school.

The Public History Program at AU prepared me for my current job through… the practicum. At the time it certainly was very stressful, so it wasn't the most enjoyable part of my experience. But in hindsight I am glad that this element is built into the curriculum. Even though I already had a full-time job while in grad school, working on a different project at a different institution provided invaluable public history experience. It especially taught me important lessons of teamwork, collaboration, and communication, which are key as I now juggle many different projects at once.

I’m involved in the professional world through… judging National History Day ever year. I really enjoy the chance to provide feedback to smart, young students who are passionate about history. Each year I end up learning from them, and walk away impressed.