During my graduate studies I became deeply interested in public history and have developed a strong partnership with my local community in Binghamton. In 2016, ago, I began volunteering at the Phelps Mansion Museum, a Gilded Age historic house museum downtown. I first joined as a volunteer docent (tour guide) and have since joined the Board of Trustees. I regularly develop content for Phelps tours, oversee student internships, help organize our History Happy Hour program, and I most recently became the Treasurer in August 2019.
You can hear more about my experience with pubic history at the Phelps on this episode of What are the Public Humanities? , a podcast published by the Institute for the Advanced Studies in the humanities at Binghamton University.
One of my favorite tours that I have been a part of is the Phelps’ annual “Death and Mourning in the Gilded Age” tour. We fill the house with death masks, hair jewelry, embalming tables, coffins, and more. I helped develop and give the 1.5 hour tours (which we conduct at night with electric candles). I love writing & giving tours–it’s another form of teaching that allows me to meet people, young and old, who are deeply interested in history. You can see me below with Joe Scheurch (the Phelps’ house manger) and Mark Dickinson (former Board President) who I work with every year. (Everything from the tour is from Mark’s personal collection!)
COVID-19 made those of us in public history think fast! I’ve linked two videos to programs I put together in Spring 2020 to keep bringing history to our community. The first is a discussion of George Kennan’s Siberia and the Exile System. The second is a tour I did with Phelps Intern Meghan Willis on the women who lived and worked at the Phelps.
Interviews with local news:
“Phelps Mansion Spotlights Victorian Death Culture,” Pipe Dream, 14 October 2019
“Golden Age New Years Eve at the Phelps,” News Channel 34, 31 December 2019