Public History Alumni

Cassidee Knott
2021, M.A., Public History

Currently: Oral Historian at Duquesne University

"I completed my Bachelor's in History at the University of Pittsburgh in 2019. I also minored in French language and English Literature. I completed my Master's in Public History at Duquesne University in 2021.Being a Pittsburgher at heart, (I grew up in Latrobe, PA an hour away) I knew I wanted to stay local, and I knew I wanted to stay involved in the Pittsburgh systems of archives, museums, and study Pittsburgh history. Duquesne was a perfect fit because I wanted to practice history, not necessarily study it, leading me to a public history program rather than a traditional history program.I was recommended Dr. Taylor's Speaking to the Past course during a visit to campus. I signed up on the recommendation and it completely changed my perception of the field. I was an archivist during my undergraduate studies and knew I wanted to continue it. Oral history was a wonderful way to continue to stay in the archival community of Pittsburgh, while also trying my hand at something new. I am very big into community outreach and detailing the average person's history. Our projects here at Duquesne really reflect that. My advice to current and future students would be to take advantage of your department, of your library staff, and of your Pittsburgh community. The staff both in the History department and in the library are phenomenal. Make those connections, get those internships, and set yourselves apart. We all know history degrees requires a heightened sense to pushing oneself, Duquesne and the Pittsburgh community will allow you to do so. Make yourself indispensable and add value to your community here in Pittsburgh, both on campus and in your own personal community." Contact Cassidee!

Lauren Eisenhart-Purvis
2018, M.A., Public History

Currently: Archivist, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

Public History alum Lauren Eisenhart-Purvis works in the Archives at PHLF"I enrolled in Duquesne's Public History program right after graduating from college, possessing a little bit of experience in the field. While at Duquesne I completed internships with the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area, and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Through these internships I was able to explore my different interests in public history and develop critical skills for my future career. I also took several courses which focused on various aspects of public history, such as Commemoration and Preservation, Introduction to Archives, Historic Preservation, and Oral History. Dr. Jennifer Whitmer Taylor's incredible oral history class offered instruction and experience both in and out of the classroom. Under the direction of Dr. Taylor, our oral history class took the interviews we conducted and collaboratively created a digital exhibit which we later presented at a regional oral history conference. Dr. Taylor also provided opportunities for students to get involved with community oral history projects. These experiences strengthened my passion for public history and provided me with experience interacting with the public in Pittsburgh. Through my public history coursework at Duquesne and internships at local history institutions, I was molded into the public historian I am today.

"I am currently the archivist for Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, a position I was able to obtain because of my previous internship experience with PHLF. In this role I manage the Frank B. Fairbanks Rail Transportation Archive, which contains transportation memorabilia from around the world. I am also in the midst of processing and arranging the organization's administrative files and creating short term and long term plans for managing PHLF's libraries and archives. My extensive background in public history provided by Duquesne helps me every day as challenges arise in my job. Duquesne provided a solid foundation in theoretical and experiential coursework supplemented by invaluable practical experience in the field. These opportunities combine to create skilled and knowledgeable public historians." Contact Lauren!

Kelsy Traeger
2014, M.A., Public History

Currently: Curator, Museums of Oglebay Institute

Public History alum Kelsy Traeger"The classes and internships that I completed while I was a student at the Duquesne provided great preparation for my current position as museum curator for the Museums of Oglebay Institute in Wheeling, WV. In my current position, I oversee collection management, exhibits, and develop programming. My classes at Duquesne strengthened my knowledge of American history and I was able to gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of the museum field and best practices. In addition, the internships I completed gave me great practical experience and connections for establishing my career." Contact Kelsy!

Lauren Churilla
2010, M.A., Public History

Currently: Curator/Director, Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Collection & Ph.D. Student, Carnegie Mellon University

Public History alum Lauren Churilla"In my sophomore year of my undergraduate career at St. Vincent College, I discovered Public History and took my first internship at Hartwood Acres. That summer, not only did I engulf myself in the archival process, but I found myself drawn deep into the hidden stories of the past.

"I was hooked and I knew I wanted to continue into the world of Public History. As I applied to graduate school for Public History, I faced a major life decision. Duquesne was the only school I applied to. My now husband was at school at the University of Pittsburgh, my family lived in the Pittsburgh suburbs, and I had no desire to leave Western Pennsylvania. I suppose I could have applied to other local programs, but Duquesne came highly recommended by my undergraduate faculty and I wanted a program that would emphasize hands-on experiences. By all means, the internship program and professional courses were some of the most valuable and attractive features of the program. Being that I had a good deal of experience with archives and collections coming into the program, I chose to focus on historical editing and museum education. Two months prior to my graduation in 2010, I was hired at my alma mater as the Curator/Director of the Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery, a position I have now held for the past six years.

"I was deeply influenced by Professor Elaine Parsons's U.S. Social Movements class and decided to pursue a certificate in Women's and Gender Studies. It was Professor Parsons and my interest in women's studies that inspired me (after a five year hiatus) to return to academic life for a Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University. Returning to the classroom was invigorating and the passion I had felt for the past in my lectures at Duquesne was reignited. I keep in touch with several of my former professors and their advice has been invaluable as I continue my studies. Where my path leads from here, only time will tell, but I am forever grateful to Duquesne and the many friends I have met along my journey thus far, without them, I would not be where I am today." Contact Lauren!

Jeffrey M. Flannery
1983, M.A., Public History

Currently: Head of Reference & Reader Services, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Jeff Flannery

"I was born and raised in the greater Philadelphia area, receiving a B.A. in History from Temple University in 1978. A life-long 'history nerd,' I was at a crossroads in the early 1980s when I discovered a new program offered by Duquesne University. The M.A. in Public History (Archives, Editing, and Museum Studies Program, as it was then called), provided education and training in alternative careers for history graduates in the emerging field of public history. Taking advantage of a generous assistantship granted by the History Department, which defrayed the costs of my education, I earned my M.A. in Public History from Duquesne in 1983, concentrating in archival studies.

"After a Duquesne-sponsored internship with the University of Pittsburgh archives, I was hired as an entry level archivist with Pitt in 1983. I found that Pittsburgh was (and still is), fertile ground for those considering history and library careers, with the Three Rivers area offering numerous internship opportunities, in an environment steeped with history and the cultural arts. Within two years of graduation, I landed my dream job in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, where I am currently the Head of the Reference and Reader Services Section. The Manuscript Division is custodian of a world-renowned collection of more than 65 million primary source documents relating to American history -- among these treasures are the personal papers of such American notables as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Walt Whitman, and Pittsburgh's own Andrew Carnegie. In a library career spanning more than 30 years, I constantly draw upon my Duquesne education to provide reference services for academic and general researchers. The graduate level courses in American history provided a solid framework for my knowledge of American history and honed my skills in analysis, critical thinking, and writing, which are key requirements for a successful career. Combined with coursework in archives and museum studies, and paired with practical internships under the guidance of helpful faculty mentors, I credit Duquesne for launching me towards a fulfilling career." Contact Jeff!