Heather A. Huyck's long career as a public historian bridges academically based history and place-based history, especially as found in the National Park Service system (she has visited 324 of the 419 national park sites). Trained in history and anthropology to focus on cultural resources, she worked on 81 enacted laws as a historian with the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands from 1985 to 1994 and as a Park Ranger/Historian for the National Park Service for over twenty years. She taught American Studies, American History, and Africana Studies at the College of William and Mary from 2002 to 2013. While President of the National Collaborative for Women's History Sites (NCWHS), Huyck focused on bringing historians from all backgrounds together at OAH, AHA, AASLH, NCPH and The Berkshire Conference focusing on the research, preservation and interpretation of women's history. She is Co-Chair of the NCWHS Research & Interpretation Committee. Her ITALICS Doing Women's History in Public: A Handbook for Museums and Historic SitesITALICS provides research and preservation methodology for written, oral, visual and tangible resources which cumulate in the interpretation of the whole story of American women's history with the public. The former director of the Jamestown 400th Project, she received the American Historical Association's Herbert Feis Award for distinguished contributions in public history; edited Women's History: Sites and Resources (2008); and coedited, with Peg Strobel, of Revealing Women's History: Best Practices for Historic Sites (2011). In addition to working on various NCWHS projects, including webinars, a Toolkit, and numerous presentations. She was the project director for the Maggie Walker Community as they processed over 15,000 documents from the indefatigible Mrs. Maggie Lena Walker, an African American community organizer and entrepreneur (1864–1934) best known for founding a bank (1903), a newspaper, and an emporium, and for running an insurance company whose resistance to American apartheid should be much better known. Heather Huyck loves to canoe, camp and travel and proudly wore the NPS uniform doing French translations, researching Clara Barton, against unscrupulous contractors, and protecting Alan Alda from his overly enthusiastic fans.
Women’s history scholarship which initially researched letters and diaries now incorporates oral and visual sources, and increasingly includes the tangible resources of objects, landscapes and architecture found in museums, parks and historic houses. Drawing on her recent Doing Women’s History in Public: A Handbook for Interpretation at Museums and Historic Sites (2020), Dr. Huyck will provide examples and insights gained through her intensive study of these diverse research and interpretive resources that together better tell the American women’s history. It will provide basic analytical tools and additional ways to take advantage of all these sources to enliven our understanding, provide other venues for learning, and thwart hoary misunderstandings and stereotypes. There are numerous examples that center on all the women who built our nation. For example, careful study of the Narbonne House in Salem, Massachusetts, reveals a Cent Shop only yards away from where Nathaniel Hawthorne worked and which he referenced in The House of Seven Gables. Such shops provided tenuous income for impoverished women. Inspection of its altered doorway reveals a female commercial establishment. Close examination of baleen provides insights into the control and support that corsets once provided; lifting “sad irons” instills appreciation for the literally heavy work African American women washerwomen did. This lecture can be tailored for different regions and for a primarily faculty, mixed faculty-student or a mixed academic-public audience.