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Masters in Public History, 2018

This Public Historian is reminding those inside and outside her field that public history is everywhere and multigenerational. A graduate of Northeastern University’s M.A. program in Public History from 2018, Caroline Klibanoff has applied her unique experiences and education to inspire the newest generation of leaders and innovators to engage in their own history and civic duty. As the Program Manager for Made By Us with the National Museum of American History, Klibanoff explains, “We start by asking what challenges face young people today – what do they need, struggle with, fear, get excited about, celebrate? And then we ask the question ‘how can history help?’” Like many of us in the history department at Northeastern, Klibanoff is a firm believer that, “History is really the first building block of civic engagement, and an understanding of the past is critical to shaping the future we want to live in.”

While Klibanoff’s primary responsibility is shaping and executing the newly-launched program, everyday looks different. Whether she’s facilitating a webinar about programs to potential new partners, composing and coordinating social media content, writing a blog post about a new historical perspective, or devising new initiatives to connect history and civic engagement, this Program Manager is performing meaningful work that promotes historic and civic agency for the members of the tech-savvy Millennial and Gen-Z generations.

Maintaining four jobs while attending graduate school at Northeastern, Klibanoff became an expert in time and priority management while also becoming an influential contributor to the field of Public History. Although located in a city that is home to monuments and sites of national history, Klibanoff felt her coursework at Northeastern focused on community-centered public history: “work that privileges ‘small’ local and family history stories alongside big national moments.” This juxtaposition of national history surrounding an education of community history has certainly inspired her approach to programs with Made By Us.

A graduate of the inaugural Digital Humanities certificate program, Klibanoff feels the digital methods and tools she learned have made her a versatile and well-rounded story-teller. In a rapidly digital world and in a position that focuses on connection with generations that have grown up with cellphones in their hands and computers nearby, Klibanoff’s digital skills have opened opportunities for her and advanced possibilities for the field of public history.

Having previously worked in civic engagement, Klibanoff says, “I have longed to bring the best of the civic sphere in with the best of the public history sphere, and to do so in ways that are collaborative and which shore up the best each institution has to offer so that we can do more, together, than we could apart.” While the direct connection between history and civic engagement is Klibanoff’s favorite part of her job, she is also inspired by the fact that Made By Us focuses on the needs and abilities of young people (like herself!).

While her work encourages young people across fields, Klibanoff wants to also encourage future Public Historians to be flexible, network (even if it feels awkward), and take advantage of a variety of tools where they can share their story as a historian. Klibanoff promises, “That’s the best part about it — no matter what skills you have, if you want to be a part of sharing history, you can find a way.”