Ask a Public Historian: Hill Goodspeed

Hill Goodspeed is the current historian at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL.

How did you get your start with the Museum?

I interned with the museum through my Junior and Senior year of college. When I was working on my Master’s I Co-oped with the museum and after graduation they offered me a job and I’ve been here since.

What work do you do as the Museum’s Historian?

I work pretty much everywhere in the museum and do a little bit of everything. I do most of my work with Research and publications, but I am also in charge of the collections archive and responsible for all loans to and from our collection.

What’s the best and worst part of your work at the Museum?

If your into history, it’s like walking into a candy store everyday. We’re always getting something new that changes the way we think about everything. Being a military museum we’ve been at full staff and pay, but shut-down due to Covid. I wouldn’t say there is a bad part of working with the museum outside of some funding issues.

What Skills do you recommend picking up in college to prepare someone for work in a Museum?

I’d say good research skills are a must along with good communication skills. One skill that’s on the rise and growing in importance is technology. People don’t like just looking at an exhibit and reading about it, they want to have some interaction and through technology it becomes a lot easier to give that to them.

Any parting tips for students interested in public history?

Get experience. It’s pretty simple and a lot of people are gonna tell you that, but it’s really the only way. What they won’t tell you is sometimes you have to get the experience on your own dime.

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