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Illuminating History for the Public

Caroline Klibanoff

Caroline Klibanoff graduated from Northeastern University in 2018 with a Master of Arts degree in Public History and a certificate in Digital Humanities.

After completing her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University in American Studies and Film/Media, Caroline worked in video and communications for the Pew Research Center and the Frameworks Institute. There she became curious about how Americans think about their country and the ways in which history might play a bigger role in shaping those ideas. However, it was not until she entered the Public History program at Northeastern that she realized there’s an entire field centered around these pursuits. Having the support and flexibility of the program allowed her to find her own path in this broad field, bringing her digital storytelling background to historical content.

The program’s hands-on activities, like building digital exhibits and touring historic sites, combined with readings in theory, gave Caroline the vocabulary and common understanding needed to develop professional relationships with others in the field, many of whom visited her classes as guest presenters. Learning from more senior practitioners became a valuable resource — especially as Caroline began working in the field during her MA, thanks to Northeastern’s evening courses and emphasis on practical experience.

Caroline completed fieldwork with many organizations, including Northern Light Productions, the National Register of Historic Places, and Northeastern Snell Library’s Digital Scholarship Group. These roles helped her build project management skills and deepened her understanding of how such organizations are structured and operate. She also worked for the Bridge Alliance, keeping one foot in the democracy and civic engagement world, a crucial focus of her current role.

After graduation, seeking museum experience, Caroline joined the MIT Museum as an exhibitions project manager, part of a team helping to open a brand new museum site.

Currently, Caroline is at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, leading “Made By Us,” a nationwide collaboration of history organizations engaging the public with history and civic participation leading up to the nation’s 250th “birthday.” Caroline draws upon many of the readings, case studies and lessons learned at Northeastern to shape this campaign. She hopes that Made by Us will improve the way history organizations connect with the public, and that it will fundamentally be a force for good in the wider field – just as the Northeastern program has been for her and many other emerging public historians.

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