My name is Dallas Hanbury and I am a second year PhD student in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University. In August 2012 I graduated from MTSU with my Masters in Public History (Archives concentration). As an undergraduate, my interest in archives drew me to Public History. Accordingly, I chose to receive my master’s degree in the field. Although I have always been drawn to history, I did not become aware of Public History until my junior year of university. Now that I have spent four years immersed in learning the theory of and practicing Public History, I cannot imagine doing anything else professionally. Public History has enabled me to use history in previously unforeseen ways, including bringing it and a wider, non-academic audience together.
My present research interests include Twentieth Century African American history, the Black Freedom Movement, Public History broadly and archives specifically. My master’s thesis focused on a working class neighborhood in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and how politics, both local and national, modern urban planning, and a lack of historic preservation, significantly altered it over time. While interesting, my doctoral dissertation will depart from my masters work and explore how cultural institutions can encourage multiple audiences to claim a stake in and ownership of the process of commemorating the Civil Rights Movement. I intend to generalize my dissertation by expanding it into a larger discussion of the challenges of remembering, interpreting, and preserving the record of contentious historical events in user-oriented cultural institutions.