As a new historian, I thought I needed to be the expert on the topic. I think differently now about what matters. Instead, I prioritize being accessible, relevant, and present.
Practicing history in collaboration with others has pushed me to broaden my areas of expertise, write for diverse audiences, think differently about archives and documents, and enabled me to nurture relationships that I value more than any professional accolades. Teaching students to engage in historical methods and produce projects serving off-campus communities and reaching public audiences has prompted me to reconsider what I think is important about this work.
I am increasingly aware of the intersections between the practice of restorative justice and public history. Through meeting together, listening to one another, sharing memories, collecting thoughts, and considering how the keeping of records and the creation of narratives about the past has shaped our present, we can heal and foster connection across social divides. Going beyond making archives inclusive and acknowledging a diverse array of historical actors, practicing restorative history invites us to truly see the historical forces that have shaped us, appreciate the impact of the past on the present, and envision and work toward a better future.
Some examples of public facing historical scholarship in which I have been involved: