Professional Research

Combining a Masters of Library Science degree and a PhD in History with over twenty-five years of experience conducting research, I understand how information is collected and organized. This background allows me to quickly access and assimilate a wide range of information and synthesize it for a variety of outcomes, including books, white papers, exhibits, and oral history collections.

Historic Resource Research

In public history, the resources are key. Whether objects, buildings, or landscapes, larger historical narratives need to be linked to the tools we have available to tell the story. Unlike many academically trained historians, who focus on concepts more than tangible resources, I combine my academic training with public history experience to keep the resources at the heart of the research.

Here are some examples of my work with historic resources

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site Historic Resource Study

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.

Susan Silber House, Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties

Susan Silber was an LGBTQ activist and lawyer, specializing in protections for queer families and workers. She also served as the attorney for the city of Takoma Park, Maryland, for over thirty years, contributing to it becoming one of the most progressive cities in the state. As a first step to getting her home including on the National Register of Historic Places, I have documented her home for the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.

Organizational Histories

Too often, during years of heady growth, organizations overlook the opportunity to document their milestones and decision-making processes. Organizational histories (also called administrative histories) can rectify this situation by synopsizing past operational trends and allowing an organization to share their story with the public. Working with individual organizations (be they nonprofit organizations, businesses, government agencies, or community groups), I advise on the ways historical understanding can assist in solving contemporary challenges, tailor projects to fit client needs, then work to uncover the relevant historical information to assist the organization as it moves into the future.

Here are some examples of my organizational history work

Dayton Aviation 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

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 performed 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

Reviews of Scholarship

Tackling the scholarship on a new topic can be an onerous undertaking, but there are ways to reduce the workload. Allow me to apply my expertise in LGBTQ history; history of gender and sexuality; and twentieth-century U.S. history to your organization’s particular needs. I offer syntheses of the latest scholarship on a particular topic; annotated bibliographies tailored to your specific needs; and/or reviews of existing literature to determine where to best focus new research.

Here are some examples of my reviews of scholarship

Connecticut Landmarks, Palmer-Warner House Interpretive Consulting

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.

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