Working Groups


NCPH working groups are seminar-like conversations of 8-12 people before and during the annual conference that explore, in-depth, a subject of shared concern.  Working groups have a purpose they are working toward, a problem they are actively trying to solve.  The working group proposal must articulate this as well as an end product(s) that the group seeks to create.


Two things.  When a group convenes at the annual meeting, the conversation has already begun. Participants are invested in the outcome. Facilitators have had time to refine their questions and perhaps refocus on the issues. Second, facilitators lead their group in  developing an end product, such as an article, a list of resources, an exhibit, a manifesto, a white paper, or a new collaborative project.


The 2023 Call for Working Group Discussants is now closed. Please check out case statements from our 2023 groups below!

2023 Working Groups

WG1. Empowering the Public History Workplace: Information, Advocacy, and Collective Power

Meeting Friday, April 14, 8:00 am – 10:00 am
Case statements:

This working group aims to create accessible resources for the public history community, and to use our time together to discuss ways to empower public history practitioners to successfully advocate for themselves and their colleagues to bring about desired changes in pay, safety, workplace culture, and beyond. We hope that the working group will help public history practitioners more confidently advocate for themselves and their colleagues, aid faculty teaching courses in public history, more easily engage, on an empirical basis, with the political economy of the industry that they are training students to join, and illustrate to grant funding agencies, governing boards, and management the value and potential of their public history employees.

Facilitators: Alena Pirok, Georgia Southern University
Andrew Urban, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Discussants: Sarah Dziedzic, Independent Practitioner
John Fulton, Minnesota Historical Society
Claire Herhold, Western Michigan University/Michigan Maritime Museum
Dana Kopel, University of California Los Angeles
Sarah Marsom, Dismantle Preservation
Onyx Montes, Define American
Abbie Reese, Loyola University Chicago
Jessica Scott, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Paul C. Thistle, retired Director/Curator

WG2. Processing, Interpreting, and Healing from Historical Trauma

Meeting Friday, April 14, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Case statements:

This working group will engage important and overlapping issues within the field of public history: the interpretation of events, people, movements, or places that may cause or recall historical traumas, and the impact that interpretation has on public history professionals, visitors, and collaborating community members. This conversation builds upon recent trends within our field that see public history practitioners pushed further into ever more complex topics of history and more sensitive forms of interpretation. Increasingly, public historians are asked to process, interpret, and live with historical traumas. As our field helps to envision a fuller and more complex vision of the past, we also have to equip ourselves with an ethic of care that will help us process the traumas of history.

Facilitators: Elijah Gaddis, Auburn University
Keena Graham, Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument
Anne Mitchell Whisnant, Duke University
Discussants: Annie Anderson, Rutgers University – Newark
Louis Bickford, MEMRIA
Adrienne Burke, Miami-Dade County Office of Historic Preservation
Richard Cheu, St. John’s University
Jean Robert Frigault, Université de Moncton
Hannah Lahti, Loyola University Chicago
Ellie Lawson, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum & IUPUI
Carlos Lopez, Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records
Patrick Stawski, Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University

WG3. World War II Home Front, Part Two

Meeting Friday, April 14, 10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Case statements:

Many National Park Service (NPS) and other historic sites tell stories of the American World War II home front, stories that include those of the new industrial workers who made wartime production possible, the building of the atomic bomb, and the Japanese American incarceration experience. As the home front experience passes out of living memory, what new opportunities open up for interpretation? What challenges could these new interpretive opportunities present for NPS and other historic sites? What interpretive techniques could help tell these expanded stories? As part of a suite of projects dedicated to the home front, NCPH invites you to join a diverse set of individuals coming from NPS sites, academic institutions, and other museum and interpretive professionals to discuss new opportunities for helping the public engage with these familiar and not-so-familiar stories. Sponsored by the National Park Service.

Facilitators: Allena Berry, Vanderbilt University
Suzanne Fischer, Exhibit Coach
Discussants: Daniel Blier, National Park Service
Hilary Blum, Claremont Graduate University
McKenna Crews, American University
Eric Faeder, National Park Service
Stanley Merritt, National Park Service
Meghan Murphy, Manhattan Project National Historical Park, National Park Service
Hannah Palsa, Kansas State University
Jon Taylor, University of Central Missouri
Megan Woods, National Parks of Boston, National Park Service
Zachary Yurek, National Park Service

WG4. Five Year Combined BA/MA in Public History

Meeting Friday, April 14, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm 
Case statements: To protect private workplace information, case statements are available by request only. Please email NCPH Program Manager Meghan Hillman ([email protected]) to be put in touch with the group’s facilitators.

History departments at colleges and universities are beginning to consider whether a combined BA/MA in Public History might be a degree that would work well for their students and faculty. The combined BA/MA enables a student to graduate in five years. This working group will be led by faculty members whose departments have begun to offer this combined degree. We will explore how best to use this degree to train students in the field of public history. The working group is open to anyone interested in pursuing the establishment of a combined BA/MA degree at their own college or university.

Facilitators: Andrea Burns, Appalachian State University
Cheryl Dong, Bowling Green State University
Jessie Swigger, Western Carolina University
Discussants: Susan Asbury, Middle Georgia State University
Kelly Enright, Flagler College
Leah Glaser, Central Connecticut State University
Thomas Henthorn, University of Michigan – Flint
Mark Janzen, University of West Georgia
Jennifer Koslow, Florida State University
Kathryn Morgan, American University
M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska, American University
Jon Taylor, University of Central Missouri

WG5. Toward a Statement of Principles for Activist Public History

Meeting Friday, April 14, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Case statements: Kept private for discussant comfort and safety

This working group will develop a statement of principles and a set of best practices for activist public history projects. Activist, in this context, means projects intended to effect social change by focusing on the experiences of historically marginalized groups, contested histories, and the historical roots of contemporary inequalities. The planned statement and best practices will give practitioners, students, and educators well-considered guidelines to draw upon and refer to when carrying out potentially controversial, community-engaged work.

Facilitators: Richard Anderson, Moravian University
Cathy Gudis, University of California – Riverside
lara kelland, University of Missouri – St Louis
Kristyn Scorsone, Rutgers University – Newark
Daniel Vivian, University of Kentucky
Discussants: Kristen Baldwin Deathridge, Appalachian State University
Michael Brown, Rochester Institute of Technology
Shakti Castro, Columbia University
Acoma Gaither, Minnesota Historical Society
Kimber Heinz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Andrea Manalov, Minnesota Historical Society
Aislinn Pentecost-Farren, independent Public Historian
Elliot Sherrill, University of Missouri – Saint Louis
Sarah Soleim, Wake Forest University
Lacey Wilson, Albany Institute of History and Art

WG6. Developing Partnerships and Teaching Cultural Heritage and Heritage Tourism in the University Classroom

Meeting Friday, April 14, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Case statements: Coming soon!

In this working group, we will explore how public history pedagogy has responded to the changing landscape of cultural heritage and heritage tourism during this late-pandemic/post-pandemic phase. As organizations reopen to the public and classrooms move back faceto-face, we are seeing lasting changes to pedagogy and community engagement. In this working group, we’ll discuss how we have collaborated with partner organizations so students get meaningful experience in diverse applications of public history as the world of cultural heritage and heritage tourism continues to evolve in the 2020s.

Facilitators: Sandra I. Enríquez, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Shannon Murray, Calgary Stampede
Katrina Phillips, Macalester College
Lindsey Wieck, St. Mary’s University
Discussants: Melissa Blair, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Emily Button Kambic, National Capitol Area, National Park Service
Katie Clary, Coastal Carolina University
Leah Glaser, Central Connecticut State University
Amanda Kleintop, Elon University
Kent Peacock, Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Jennifer Shaffer Merry, Arizona Historical Society
William Stoutamire, University of Nebraska at Kearney
John Winters, University of Southern Mississippi

WG7. Decolonizing through Public History: An International Discussion

Meeting Friday, April 14, 3:30 – 5:30 pm
Case statements:

Based on participatory framework and shared authority, public history, both locally and internationally, has the potential to challenge Western and colonial practices and understandings of the past. Inspired by discussions on cultural institutions (museums and archives), public space (colonial monuments), and power, the participants of the working group explore the needs, the meanings, and the different practices to decolonizing through public history. Topics include debates on who can interpret the past, where public history is performed and practiced, and how it can be mobilized for/by under-represented communities. With case studies from different parts of the world, the group wants to contribute to a more inclusive and decentered international public history.

Facilitators: Juniele Almeida, Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF – Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Thomas Cauvin, University of Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
Noor Nieftagodien, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
Krista McCracken, Algoma University (Canada)
Discussants: Petros Apostolopoulos, University of Luxembourg
Guneeta Singh Bhalla, The 1947 Partition Archive (India)
Catalina Muñoz Rojas, Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)
Serge Noiret, Associazione Italiana di Public History (Italy)
Emi Tozawa, University of Manchester (UK)

WG8. American Girl Dolls and Public History

Meeting Saturday, April 15, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Case statements:

This working group will grapple with the increased prominence of American Girl dolls (and the history they portray) through food studies, meme culture, the material culture of childhood, K-12 education, Civil Rights, queerness, and neurodiversity. We aim to explore the ways in which many librarians, educators, public historians, writers, and meme creators use the dolls to create and engage with public history for audiences who are more diverse, more online, and less likely to visit traditional historical sites than other audiences. We hope to develop this into public writing as well as an edited collection.

Facilitators: Holly Genovese, University of Texas at Austin
Rebecca Brenner Graham, The Madeira School
Katherine Hysmith, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Vanessa Salo, Alexandria Library
Emily Wells, William & Mary
Discussants: Susan Asbury, Middle Georgia State University
Chloë Bee, Royal Holloway University of London
Talia Brenner, North Carolina State University
Maya Brooks, University of Georgia
Constance Cadell, University of South Carolina
Abigail Fine, Queen Mary University of London
Jada Furtick, University of South Carolina, McKissick Museum
Hillary Hanel Rose, Girl Museum
Courtney Hobson, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Elisabeth (Zoie) Horecny, University of South Carolina
Elisabeth Medley, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Janine Napierkowski, Girl Scouts USA
Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Independent
Rebekkah Rubin, Independent Historical Consultant

WG9. Lincoln Reimagined

Meeting Saturday, April 15, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Case statements: Coming soon!

This working group follows up a two-day Lincoln Home Symposium hosted by NCPH, University of Illinois Springfield, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in October 2022. That event focused on the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, using the space as a learning lab to think more broadly about interpretation, preservation, and community engagement at a changing urban National Historic Site that seeks to be relevant to its community. Moving forward the work done at the Symposium by presenters and attendees alike, this working group brings together public historians who work at sites or on projects related to Abraham Lincoln, his time, and his legacy. We focus on the need to re-evaluate and revise approaches to ‘great man history’ in light of contemporary issues of diversity, equity, and relevance.

Facilitators: Devin Hunter, University of Illinois Springfield
Timothy Townsend, National Park Service
Discussants: David Bowlby, Motlow State Community College
Brian Burtka, Loyola University Chicago
Joan Cummins, President Lincoln’s Cottage
Hayley Goebel, University of Illinois at Springfield and Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Jackie Gonzales, Historical Research Associates, Inc.
HannaLore Hein, Idaho State Historical Society
Claire Jerry, National Museum of American History
Erin Mast, Lincoln Presidential Foundation
Christian McWhirter, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Dan Ott, National Park Service
Rebekah Turnmire, University of South Carolina-History Department and Center for Civil Rights History and Research
Elizabeth Westenburg, Idaho State Historical Society

WG10. Uniting Public History and End-of-Life Care

Meeting Saturday, April 15, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Case statements: Coming soon! 

This working group seeks to create a space for conversations between public historians and clinical workers about end-of-life care. Evidence suggests that there is real potential and need for public historians in
end-of-life and elder care, to capture the oral histories of the aging and affirm their memories and to engage collections in ways that promote historical reflection and build community. How do we define this work? How do we go about laying groundwork for collaboration between health care workers, public historians, and oral historians? We aim to identify relevant scholarship, develop definitions that cross disciplines, and envision agendas for future work. We seek to connect professionals in the fields of aging, palliative and hospice work, and mental health with public and oral historians.

Facilitators: Marla Miller, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Sara Jane Ruggles, Auburn Crest Hospice-North Idaho
Discussants: Meral Agish, Queens Memory Project, Queens Public Library
Linda Barnickel, Nashville Public Library
Jennifer Coggins, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
Lu Ann Jones, National Park Service
Erin McCarthy, Columbia College Chicago
Margo Shea, Salem State University
Will Stoutamire, University of Nebraska at Kearney

WG11. Facilitating Difficult Conversations in an Age of Political Polarization

Meeting Saturday, April 15, 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Case statements: 

Public historians play a crucial role in the ongoing reckoning with the legacies of slavery and colonialism in the United States. By confronting these troubling, often hidden or obscured aspects of the past, communities can begin to recognize the roots of present day inequities and forge a better future for everyone. But how do we engage our communities in difficult conversations about the
past without falling prey to the political polarization that so often shuts these conversations down? This working group will develop a case-study handbook of best practices for facilitating dialogue that welcomes multiple viewpoints, resists cancel culture, and fosters learning and growth.

Facilitator: Erin Battat, Wellesley College
Discussants: Rebecca Amato, Illinois Humanities
Alima Bucciantini, Archmere Academy
Jennifer Gunter, University of South Carolina
Lisa A. Manter, Saint Mary’s College of California
Yujay Masah, Loyola University Chicago
Casey Moore, University of Glasgow, PhD Candidate
Heather Rivet, Historic Charleston Foundation
Jessica Shainker, American University
Casey Wooster, University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries