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Public History Alumni

Alumni Stories

Doneeca Thurston, Creative Engagement Manager, Peabody Essex Museum


“I have served as a Creative Engagement Producer in the Education and Interpretation department at the Peabody Essex Museum for the past two years. In my role I’m responsible for the museum’s after-hours party series PEM/PM. Every third Thursday of the month, the museum is open until 9PM, and we offer a cash bar and signature cocktail, small plates, live music and performances, gallery experiences, art making and much more. Each month has a different theme and always promises a great time. I also manage the museum’s Maker Lounge, a maker space inside the museum that features exhibition-inspired design challenges, 3D printing, and engineering stations. We also offer drop-in activities, workshops and demonstrations throughout the year.

I would to say the best part of my job is working with the community. The audiences for PEM/PM and the Maker Lounge tend to be hyper-local, so it’s great to collaborate with North Shore-area businesses, groups and organizations on various programs. I think it’s important for museums to create opportunities to connect with people outside their doors, and I’m fortunate to be able to develop some of those opportunities”


Aubrey Butts, Oral History Researcher, The HistoryMakers


“After graduating from the public history program, I accepted a position with the HistoryMakers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive. The HistoryMakers aims to build a digital archive that contains stories of interest for school children, academics, museum professionals, and community activists alike. I co-manage a $1.5 million grant funded project that aims to make approximately 2,700 interviews, along with fully text searchable transcripts and abstracts, accessible for subscribers to our digital archive. In addition to overseeing processing operations, I set metadata standards and work with a team of reviewers to implement a uniform vocabulary.

On a daily basis, I use ideas from digital humanities and public history courses to think about the potential within The HistoryMakers archive to inform not only scholarship within the academy but also public humanities projects. Lessons in grant writing and management prepared me for the reality of working for a small history  non-profit. My internships at the Northeastern University archives and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum gave me the skills t resolve issues that arise in large scale records processing projects. I left Northeastern grounded in theory and practice, and I rely upon both on a daily basis.”