For a fuller list of projects, please refer to my curriculum vitae. Here I offer a representative sample of my recent work.

Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites

I have recently partnered with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group (formerly Alta Mira Press) to create a manual for interpreting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) history at museums and historic sites. Part of the AASLH’s Interpreting History series, the book includes:

  • a meaningful discussion of the opportunities and challenges of presenting the queer past to a wide public
  • an assessment of the state of the field of LGBT historical interpretation

    Vast Queer Past, Exhibit Title

    Exhibit Title for GLBT History Museum, San Francisco, CA

  • an overview of the history of same-sex love and desire in the United States, from the colonial era to the present
  • case studies featuring the front-line experiences of the Chicago History Museum, Historic New England, and the Minnesota Historical Society
  • a collection of “lessons learned” from other museums and historic sites that have been pioneers in this area
  • an annotated list of suggestions for further reading

Happily, my background in public history and the history of sexuality, plus the research I have done for this particular project, have opened a number of opportunities for me to give public presentations on this topic, including talks at Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and the annual meeting of the American Alliance of Museums. I also am providing consulting services and staff training to numerous organizations, including the National Park Service and the Creative Learning Factory.

You can order a copy of my book here.

Community Development and Sense of Place

The Buskirk-Chumley Theater lights up downtown Bloomington, Indiana

The Buskirk-Chumley Theater lights up downtown Bloomington, Indiana

I am a strong believer that an understanding of the past can contribute to the health of cities and towns. The unique history of a place gives it a distinct identity, which can be built upon to create cultural tourism, community engagement, and a viable economic future. Inspired by these beliefs, I have worked with various non-profit organizations, small businesses, and government agencies to uncover a specific part of the past and transform this knowledge into a product that engages their clients, customers, and communities. Examples include:

  • Researching the history of neighborhood grocery stores and the subsequent rise of supermarkets for the Bloomingfoods Food Co-Operative, so that the business can draw on the lessons of the past as it plans way to better serve its customers in the future.
  • Creating a historical exhibit for the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, a performing arts venue operating in a 90-year-old former downtown movie palace. The exhibit tells the story of the old Indiana Theatre and its rebirth as the Buskirk-Chumley, enabling patrons to understand the vital role the arts have played in the health and survival of historic downtowns.
  • Managing a project for the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, a compilation of former industrial sites in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Taken together, these various mills and factories tell an important story about the rise and fall of industrialism in the United States, but the best way to tell this story, and thus the future of the sites was unclear. Working under a partnership between the National Park Service and the Organization of American Historians, we convened a group of scholars, historic site staffpeople, and community members to consider the historic significance of the area and the best ways present that significance to the public.

History and the National Park Service

Through my previous employment and subsequent consulting work, I have designed, managed, and consulted on over 100 projects related to the parks and programs of the National Park Service, including feasibility studies, administrative histories, historic resource studies, National Historic Landmark (NHL) theme studies and nominations, and special projects. Here are just a few examples.

Palmer-Epard Cabin at Homestead National Monument, Nebraska

Palmer-Epard Cabin at Homestead National Monument, Nebraska

  • Consulting on the National Park Service Women’s History Initiative. At the request of then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, the National Park Service launched an ongoing initiative to improve its coverage of women’s history in its parks and programs. Working in partnership with the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS), I served on a team of historians charged with setting this initiative in motion.
  • Serving as project manager for an assessment of the National Park Service History Program, an effort that resulted in the publication of the award-winning Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service, by Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Marla R. Miller, Gary B. Nash, and David Thelen.
  • Overseeing the National Register of Historic Places update for the John F. Kennedy National Historic Site. Originally listed for its significance as the birthplace of President John F. Kennedy, this historic site in Brookline, Massachusetts, required an updated statement of significance that better addressed current National Register requirements, recent scholarship, and an expanded understanding of the role Rose Kennedy played in the memorialization of the site after her son’s death.
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