We would like to congratulate our History MA and Public History PhD and MA 2022 graduates. We wish them the best of luck as they go out into the world.
Public History PhD graduates
William Christopher Laws completed his dissertation, titled “‘The Millennium of Their Glory’: Public Memory and War Monuments in North Carolina, 1865-1929,” under the direction of Professor Craig Friend. “The Millennium of Their Glory” considers how memory-making is a process rather than a product, and explores the culture war that emerged over North Carolina’s Civil War memory, which saw wartime anti-Confederate sentiments and vernacular memories obliterated in favor of a consensus, White reconciliation official memory. In addition to a thorough examination of Confederate monumentalism during the era, “The Millennium of Their Glory” analyzes non-Confederate Civil War commemoration and memory-making. Union monuments placed in the state exemplified a meshing of Confederate and American values into a new White American identity. This process seamlessly blended the Lost Cause ideology of the defeated South with the Cause Victorious ideology of the North, shaping the war’s memory in ways that minimized the causes of the war and eliminated Black Americans’ contributions, voices, and memories. At the turn of the twentieth century, North Carolina Confederate memorialists even managed to assimilate new American heroes such as Worth Bagley, who died in the Spanish-American War in the 1890s, into Confederate lore. In this respect, southerners were not simply defending and protecting old Confederate ideals but were actively asserting new expectations upon American culture, giving birth to new forms of White nationalism that many northerners endorsed and shared in the name of reconciliation.
Chris has long been involved in North Carolina public history, and currently serves as vice-president of the Duke Homestead Education and History Corporation. He recently took the position as executive director of Preservation Durham, a non-profit dedicated to protecting Durham’s historic assets through education, action, and advocacy. In addition to his duties with PD, he will continue working as a History Instructor at Johnston Community College, teaching American and North Carolina history there.
Lauren Vilbert completed her dissertation, titled, “The Long Road to the Currituck Banks: Creating the Tourism Landscape” under the direction of Alicia McGill. Lauren’s dissertation had a mythic identity as the “wild horses” project. In reality, her work examined the cultural, political, and economic machinations that contributed to the construction of the tourism landscape on the Currituck Outer Banks from the 19th century to the present. As Lauren reveals, debates between residents, non-residents, developers and others about the management of Currituck Banks natural and cultural resources are linked to American imaginaries of place, identity, and wilderness. This richly interdisciplinary work makes contributions to environmental history, public history, tourism, and heritage studies and has significant implications for environmental policy and cultural resource management.
Lauren is currently in the interview process for several jobs with the federal and state government in historic preservation and environmental review. She is also working on publishing chapters of her dissertation.
History MA graduates
Alexi Henderson completed her thesis “No Fortunate Son: Marginalized Women Veterans of the U.S. War in Vietnam,” under the direction of Dr. Nancy Mitchell. In ” No Fortunate Son,” Alexi argues that in order to create a more “just memory,” we must broaden our field of vision to include those who have been erased from memory – specifically, black American women veterans and South Vietnamese women veterans. Alexi took on the difficult task of finding and interviewing black and South Vietnamese women veterans of the war. Says Dr. Mitchell of Alexi’s work, “Her thesis is a penetrating analysis of these oral histories. This is true primary research and a significant contribution to our understanding of the US war in Vietnam.”
Post graduation, Alexi plans on staying in the Raleigh area to teach social studies in the Wake County Public School System.
Kyle Bailey received thesis distinction for his thesis, “Education and Annihilation: The Morrill Act at War,” which he completed under the direction of Professor Judy Kertesz. He plans to look for work in the publishing industry.
Public History MA graduates
Nicole Gough’s graduate research work ranged from 18th century British architecture and spatial relations, to the representation of gender and sex in comics. Collectively, her work focused on the importance of objects of material culture and their cultural production. She completed her Summer internship in the collections management, curating departments and registrar’s office at the Cheekwood Estate and Garden in Nashville, Tennessee. As a collections management intern, Nicole primarily worked on preparing objects for display in the newly renovated butler’s pantry. To this end, she retrieved the selected objects in attic storage, photographed them, uploaded them to embARK, coordinated their labels, transported them, and curated them within the butler pantry cabinets. Nicole also completed loan forms, writer agreements and background research for upcoming exhibits and helped Cheekwood enable digital accessibility of the permanent collection in embARK.
Nicole is currently interviewing for registrar/curatorial assistant positions in museums.
Cristina Tejada completed her Summer internship at Greensboro History Museum as a research intern for the new exhibition “North Carolina Democracy.” Most of Cristina’s work included researching elections, from the colonial era up to the Civil War in North Carolina. This work included identifying potential primary and secondary source material that could be incorporated into the exhibition.
Another facet of Cristina’s internship was engaging with another group of interns who were on the Democracy Tables project, a partnership between the Greensboro History Museum and the University of North Carolina Greensboro which seeks to respond to Greensboro community concerns thought collaborative dialogue. The interns examined how they could integrate Democracy Tables into future exhibitions.
After graduation, Cristina will be a Curatorial and Education Assistant at Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park. This is a temporary, year-long position through American Conservation Experience (ACE).
Lev Rosenberger studied twentieth century Southern LGBTQ and gender history. They completed their Summer internship with Invisible Histories Project as a research intern. Invisible Histories Project (IHP) uses Southern Voice, a gay and lesbian publication out of Atlanta that provides news coverage of LGBT issues, as a gateway into a community that has been repressed and hidden. As part of Lev’s internship, they poured over every digitized issue of Southern Voice from 1988 to 1994 and mined information on anything that might be of interest to IHP and would assist in their expansion into Georgia. Additionally they have worked at the Special Collections Research Center processing and building an exhibit based on the Governor James B. Hunt Papers.
Lev’s post graduation plans are to complete the Dual Degree Program and continue attending UNC to complete their Masters in Library Science – Archives and Records Management.
Madison Phillips’ graduate work in the Public History program centered on museum studies and local history. She produced projects on sex work in Raleigh, American serial killers, and the local Raleigh chapters of the American Red Cross. She also worked as a museum educator at the City of Raleigh Museum. She completed her Summer internship at Dorothea Dix Park as a virtual exhibit intern under the guidance of the City of Raleigh Museum. Madison investigated the life of Dorothea Dix and her relationship with people of color. She also worked on a virtual exhibit of the wayside signage featured around the park. This project entailed meticulous work with the existing verbiage and photographs to ready them for virtual display and organizing the material in the StoryMaps software.
This summer, Madison will be interning for the City of Raleigh as a Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources Recreation Intern.
Leah Polk’s public history work focused on museum education and interpretation. She completed her Summer internship at Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site as a research and visitor service intern where she worked in interpretation of Civil War medicine at the Harper House and researched Union casualties of the Battle of Bentonville.
After graduation, Leah will spend a season as a park ranger at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Hannah Chapman worked at NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center both as a graduate processing assistant and as a collections management intern. Her internship consisted of two parts: managing a shelf-read and barcoding project and analyzing SCRC’s space and storage.
After graduation, Hannah is moving to Provo, Utah for a full-time position as a collections management assistant at Brigham Young University’s Special Collections.
With a focus on Museum Studies, Abigail Calvert studied material culture, popular culture, and visual media, often analyzing historical topics through popular cinema. She interned at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium of St. Johnsbury, Vermont where she learned both pragmatic aspects of display and digitization of materials, while also assessing the influence of digitization and use of new technologies in reshaping the character of historic museums.
Abigail’s post-graduate plans include finding work in a museum’s collection department or a library’s archive, and finding ways to present their contents to the public as well as bringing awareness to how media and memory intertwine in public history spaces.