Hannah Scruggs, MA Public History ‘17, started the African and African American Studies doctoral program at Harvard University in Fall 2022. Currently working as Genealogy Reference Assistant at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Scruggs uses family history as a starting point for analysis of systems of power. At Harvard, she will examine the enslaved and free Black communities of central Virginia, situating the inquiry in contemporary concerns about descendancy. Drawing on her extensive work with Montpelier descendents, Scruggs seeks to reframe museums’ and historic sites’ relationships with descendent communities.
At NC State, she specialized in African American public history, examining Black history in multiple contexts. She notes that working with Dr. Blair Kelly on African American public history and with Dr. Gordon on community-centered museums was formative to her current work. With Dr. Alicia McGill and doctoral student Lisa Withers, she worked in Belize to collaborate with the Crooked Tree community on several public history projects, which helped her to more fully consider the African diaspora. She also notes that “Dr. [David] Gilmartin’s Rivers of History course sparked my interest in learning more about how the landscape and the environment impacts a place and the people who live there.” Hannah Scruggs has presented papers at conferences hosted by the National Council on Public History, the Association for State and Local History, and the Association of African American Museums.