Casey Gamble is the Museum Programs Coordinator at Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
How would you describe your job, do you consider yourself a “public historian?”
My official title is “Museum Programs Manager” and right now that pretty much means doing all the history, education, and collections related things at my small history museum. And yes, I would say that makes me a “public historian” using the definition by NCPH.
What was your general career path?
It’s been a kind of long and windy road: I earned a B.S. in history with the intention of going straight to grad school and eventually earning a PhD. But, life changes plans sometimes, and I needed to find a job right out of college and wound up working in accounting for over 5 years before finishing up a master’s in secondary education with a focus on social studies. I taught in a classroom for a brief time, but quickly realized that environment was not for me, and I sought out alternatives. It just so happens that the museum where I had done a year long internship while in grad school was hiring a part time education coordinator, and I was able to transition to a full time position after that.
What was your favorite project that you have worked on?
For the centennial of the passage of the 19th amendment we created a women’s suffrage exhibit for our small temporary gallery. I was able to help with the research, writing, and editing of that exhibit and I had so much fun working on it! At the opening reception, some of the women featured were able to attend, and although some of them had passed away, their families came and it was awesome to get to meet everyone and hear personal stories.
What advice do you have for someone looking for their first public history job?
Get as much varied experience as you can. Us historians like to specialize, and that’s great, but not always practical. Try to get internships, volunteer work, or part time jobs (if feasible) in collections, research, education, and even front line positions like visitor services. Try to do as much as you can while still in school so that you have a solid resume when you graduate. I know it’s not fun, and believe me, I know it’s hard, and can seem almost impossible. But even if you can devote a few days a month to volunteering, that helps! Look into writing articles or blog posts for museums, present at a conference, attend training sessions. It all helps! Right now, there are virtual volunteer opportunities, too. Don’t wait!