Student Projects

American University public history students research primary sources from the Veterans History Project collection at the Library of Congress.

Every spring, as part of the public history practicum (HIST-730), students and faculty work alongside American University’s partner institutions to develop new educational programs, future exhibits, and other interpretive works. These projects provide students opportunities to learn public history in the field, hone project management skills, and practice working as a team. With every project, AU’s partners benefit from the valuable, professional assistance of talented scholars trained in the best practices of the field.

PH MA students in front of their practicum project poster at Public History Day - NMAH

 Treasures of the Smithsonian, Spring 2017

Partner: The National Museum of American History

Student team of Jenna Hill, Sydney Weaver, and Katrina Wioncek developed a set of 17 large flashcards. These cards highlight 10 different famous artifacts at NMAH and link them to less familiar artifacts. Volunteers will use these flashcards with people as they wait in line to engage them in historical thinking and orient them to the museum so they explore more.

 St. Elizabeth's Wayside Sign Project, Spring 2017

Partner: The National Building Museum


Student team of Ama Ansah, Elizabeth Gonzalez, and Ronald Teague created a set of wayside signs for the institution St. Elizabeth's, the new home Homeland Security. The wayside signs will be placed around the campus where the buildings stand and offer information about what the buildings were used for and history about the institution itself. The themes of these signs include Treatment, Architecture, People, and Changes in Practice.

PH MA students in front of their practicum project poster on Public History Day - National Parks and the Bill of Rights

 The Bill of Rights and National Parks, Spring 2017

Partner: The National Park Service

Student team of Ashlee Anderson, Lisa Beaudoin, Madison Carper, and Alison Russell created a website that connects National Park sites to different amendments in the Bill of Rights. They connected each amendment to a specific site to help navigation and allow for the public to easily draw connections between the sites.

NMAH American Enterprise line engagement proof of concept project - Public History Day

Trendsetting Trivia: The Evolution of Advertising, Spring 2017 

 Partner: The National Museum of American History

Student team of Ashleigh Aycock, Madeline Makhlouf, and Emily Sullivan developed a set of large flashcards that museum volunteers will use in line to educate visitors about the history of advertising and the ad wall in the museum. Volunteers will use the flashcards to play a trivia game with visitors that ask questions about advertising and offer information about the history of advertising itself.

Anacostia Community Museum Logo.

Anacostia Community Museum CDI Blog, Spring 2016

Partner: The Smithsonian's Anacostia Community Museum

Student team of Meg Biser, Rebecca Brenner, and Phoebe Sherman wrote twelve blog posts for the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum's Community Documentation Initiative (CDI) blog. The blog posts drew upon research in secondary literature and primary newspapers and photographs in order to document the history of neighborhood change in the DC Latinx community.

Three children hold their hands out, holding cards from their student historian kits.

Student Historian Kits: Transportation Station, Spring 2016

Partner: Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Student team of Joan Cummins, Samantha Hunter, Matt Wong, and Rebecca Quam created educational programming, aligned with DCPS standards for third grade social studies and geography, for the Historical Society. The program uses the Historical Society's collections to illuminate the history of the streetcar in Washington, DC. and teach students how to examine primary sources, exercise historical thinking, and explore how their own choices shape the history of their city.

Business of Beauty, Spring 2015

Partner: National Museum of American History

Student team of Jen Giambrone, Catherine Schultz, and Alison Jobe photographed around one hundred objects, conducted research, and designed a website that explored the business history of cosmetics.

A red, white, and blue patch that reads "Made in the USA" is attached to a piece of blue fabric.

Made in the USA, Spring 2015

Partner: National Museum of American History

Student team of Marga Anderson and Danielle Dulken researched and designed a website on the history of trade in the US and products produced in America. They also modified the project into a physical exhibition for the Kogod Business School at AU.

A woman writes on a white board at the performance presentation.

How do You Fix a Broken Heart?, Spring 2015

Partner: National Museum of American History

Student team of Chelsea Hansen and Katherine Kitterman researched and scripted a public program exploring the history of innovation through artificial hearts. The program debuted at the NMAH on July 1, 2015 as part of the Wallace Coulter performance stage. In an article on the museum's collection of artificial hearts, Smithsonian Magazine publicized the performance presentation.

Three people hold the "Who's a Washingtonian" program outline binder.

Three Stars, Two Bars, One City, Spring 2015

Partner: The Historical Society of Washington, DC

Student team of Zach Klitzman and Sydney Johnson researched and wrote a school program that answered the question: “Who’s a Washingtonian?” for 12th graders. The program introduced students to the history of DC using archival and three-dimensional objects in the Society’s collections. You can watch the introduction video to the program on YouTube.

Four students stand by a poster for the exhibit outdoors.

Honey Bee History, Spring 2015

Partner: Smithsonian Gardens

Student team of Alexandra Erichson, Anna Reiter, and Anna Snyder produced a pop-up exhibit titled “Buzzing Through History” for the Smithsonian Gardens’ Garden Fest on the history of honey bees from the ancient world to modern America.