Portfolio

Susan's Projects

LGBTQ

Stonewall National Monument

Facilitator, Scholar Charrette

Stonewall National Monument, in New York City, preserves the site of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, an important event in the struggle for LGBTQ rights. During the planning stages of this park, the National Park Service engaged me to help organize and to facilitate a two-day gathering of scholars to reflect on the significance and legacy of Stonewall, in order to guide the future park’s interpretation and management.

Susan and a colleague standing next to an NPS sign that says "Stonewall National Monument."
Sue Ferentinos Megan Springate Stonewall National Monument 2017

House of the Furies

National Landmark Nomination

The Furies were a lesbian feminist collective in Washington, DC, in the early 1970s. Their short-lived periodical, The Furies, articulated much of the groundwork for lesbian separatism. In this project, I am completing a National Landmark Nomination for the building where the collective produced their newspaper, building on a National Register nomination written by Mark Meinke.

Philly Queer Spaces Project

Advisor

The Philly Queer Spaces Project uses arts and culture to engage with the diverse histories of queer and queered spaces within the city of Philadelphia. I serve the project in an advisory capacity, ensuring that their work is informed by the latest scholarship on queer history.

Monumental Elks Lodge #3

National Register Nomination

As part of a larger project documenting places associated with LGBTQ history in the state of Maryland, I am currently preparing a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Monumental Elks Lodge #3 in Baltimore. The site is associated with a series of annual Pansy Balls in the 1920s and 1930s, serving as a rare example of interracial socializing and overt LGBTQ gatherings in the era before World War II.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore

National Register Nomination

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Baltimore (now the Pride Center of Central Maryland) occupied a building on the corner of West Chase Street and Brexton Street, in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore from 1980 to 2014. This building was also the home of the Chase Brexton Health Clinic, a medical provider serving LGBTQ patients. A National Register nomination for this site, which I wrote, is currently under review by the state of Maryland.

Maryland LGBTQ History

Historic Context Study

In 2019-2020, I partnered with Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Historical Trust to create a statewide historic context study of Maryland LGBTQ history. A historic context study is a document used in historic preservation, to assist preservation professionals and commissions in evaluating the historic significance of a particular site. This study is now completed, and we have moved on to a second phase of the project.

Book Research
Book Research

Women's History

Azurest South

National Historic Landmark Nomination

Azurest South, in Petersburg, Virginia, was the home of Amaza Lee Meredith (who also designed the house) and Edna Meade Colson. Meredith and Colson were both professors at Virginia State University, a historically black college. The house is a rare example of International Style domestic architecture in the south, and Meredith is significant for having the vision to design such a dwelling in the 1930s Jim Crow South, despite race, gender, and class barriers that prevented her from receiving formal architectural training.

Exterior shot of a white and turquoise international-style building, Azurest South
Azurest South, Petersburg, Virginia

Representing Women's History with a National Museum

Advisor

In the 2010s, Congress established a national commission to explore the possibility of creating a national museum devoted to the history of women in the United States. The commission organized a symposium to get input from scholars on what such a museum would involve. I was honored to be one of the scholars invited to participate in this event. The commission’s ultimate recommendations led to the Smithsonian Institution’s women’s history initiative Because of Her Story.

Telling the Whole Story Women's History Summit

Project Manager, Participant

In an effort to expand the history being documented and interpreted within the National Park Service (NPS), the agency partnered with the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites to host a two-day gathering of scholars and NPS personnel to create an action plan for expanding women’s history in the national parks. I was brought on to help with planning, identification of invitees, and facilitation of the event.

Group image of the participants of the National Park Service Women's History Summit
Telling the Whole Story Women’s History Summit

National Park Service

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Historic Research Prospectus

Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes many well-known natural and cultural sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, such as Alcatraz, the Presidio, Marin Headlands, Cliff House, and Muir Woods. The site is rich in history, but with so many moving parts, it can be challenging to keep track of all the stories to be told. So, the park’s partner organization, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, has hired me to conduct a comprehensive review of historical research that has already been conducted on park resources and determine what gaps remain in our historical understanding. I will then consult with park staff to determine the highest priority research areas and develop a project plan for further investigating these topics.

Outdoor image of the a coastline with historical ruins
The ruins of Sutro Baths in San Francisco, part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Historic Resource Study

influenced her engagement with this issue

The National Park Service has engaged me for a multi-year research project considering Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) within the context of her time. Specific areas of research will include:

  • her marriage to President Franklin D. Roosevelt within the context of early-twentieth-century marriage;
  • her professional and social networks of women and what they can tell us about the first generation of women involved in politics after women received the vote in 1920
  • her commitment to social justice and the people and events that influenced her engagement with this issue.

The research will result in a document known within the park service as a Historic Resource Study, which will assist staff at Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site in developing history programming for visitors.

Eleanor Roosevelt Statue
Eleanor Roosevelt Statue

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Administrative History

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park was created in 1992 to tell the story of the development of aviation and the role played by Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers and subsequent aviation innovators.

In cooperation with the park, I am currently preparing the site’s first administrative history, documenting the establishment of the park and its management over its first twenty-five years.

As part of this project, I will be considering the role the park played in the economic development and urban renewal of Dayton, as well as exploring the ways that Dayton Aviation Heritage park provides lessons for other national parks.

Historic airplane, known as the 1905 Wright Flyer III
1905 Wright Flyer III, park of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Imperiled Promise

Project Manager

As part of my work with the Organization of American Historians, I was tasked overseeing the creation of a report assessing the state of the National Park Service history program. I engaged a team of scholars (Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Marla Miller, Gary Nash, and David Thelen), helped them develop their methodology and create a survey, and managed the completion and production of the report, which went on to win the annual group consulting award from the National Council on Public History.

Historical Organizations

America 250

Advisory Board, Programming Themes

The American Association of State and Local History recently released a field guide for museums and historical organizations preparing to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the nation’s founding in 2026. I served as part of the advisory panel for this project, exploring the salient themes for the sesquicentennial from a range of community perspectives.

Connecticut Landmarks, Palmer-Warner House

Interpretive Consultant

Historically, the Palmer-Warner House, a historic house museum in rural Connecticut, has told the story of John and Mehitable Warner and their family, who operated a blacksmith shop during the eighteenth century.

In 2019, Connecticut Landmarks, which owns the Palmer-Warner House engaged me to be part of a two-day consultant charrette to explore the possibility of expanding interpretation at the site. The team of Connecticut Landmarks staff and consultants developed themes and strategies for incorporating the story of Frederic Palmer and his partner Howard Metzger into the history the site shares with its visitors. Palmer was a twentieth-century preservation architect and collector who preserved the 1738 structure and lived there with Metzger for over twenty-five years.

As a follow-up to the charrette, I compiled a list of relevant scholarship to guide the staff in further engaging with the historic context of male partnerships in the mid-twentieth century.

Palmer Warner
Palmer Warner

National Council on Public History

Acting Executive Director

I served as the acting executive director of the National Council on Public History, based in Indianapolis, while the group’s executive director was on parental leave.

"Not Your Average Eighteenth-Century Gentleman" Interpretive Charrette, The Woodlands, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Interpretive Consultant

The Woodlands National Historic Landmark in Philadelphia is the former home of the eighteenth-century gentleman William Hamilton. As part of a larger effort to update their interpretation, the historic site hired me to organize, participate in, and facilitate an interpretive planning event with innovative museum professionals who could bring new ideas to a familiar story.

Other Organizations

Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Exhibit

The Buskirk-Chumley Theater is a thriving performing arts venue in downtown Bloomington, Indiana. The venue occupies a historic movie palace that opened in 1922 and operated in that capacity until the 1990s, when it was briefly shuttered before being preserved through a community-wide effort, and reborn as Bloomington’s home of the performing arts. Working with the venue’s parent organization, BCT Management, Inc., and Indiana Humanities, I pe vbrformed research into the venue’s century-long history and collaborated on the creation of a permanent exhibit, “A Thing of Beauty and a Joy Forever”: A History of Bloomington’s Community Theater.

Exterior of a historic movie theater
Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomingfoods Cooperative Services

Interpretive Waysides

As Bloomingfoods cooperative grocery store prepared to open a new location in the historic Elm Heights neighborhood of Bloomington, Indiana, they hired me to research the history of the site and create an interpretive wayside exhibit that would share that history with customers.

Colleges & Universities

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Charles K. Hyde Visiting Practitioner

Along with my fellow consultant, Anne Mitchell Whisnant, I led a workshop for public history students at University of Massachusetts and University of New Hampshire, covering the basics of running a historical consulting business.

Indiana University Department of History

Career Diversity Advisor

For the past eight years, I have worked with the Indiana University Department of History on preparing their students for a range of careers after graduation. At various times, this work has involved managing the department’s internship program, executing a series of career development workshops, meeting one-on-one with graduate students about career options, and creating a regular newsletter about career diversity for humanities PhDs. Recently, I have taken on similar duties with the Indiana University Department of Spanish and Portuguese, as well.

Middle Tennessee State University Department of History​

Maymester Visiting Instructor

Middle Tennessee State University Public History Program has an abbreviated term each May (known as Maymester), to allow students to do field work and learn from professionals as well as their professors. I participated in this effort during a class entitled “Interpreting, Archiving, and Preserving Freedom Struggles.”

Picture of Susan Ferentinos with students
Students and I during my visit to the MTSU freedom struggles class.