Filling the Gaps in the Historic Record

Endorsed by the OAH Committee on National Park Service Collaboration and the Society for History in the Federal Government

Friday, April 3, 2020, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

Type: Panel Discussion

Tags: Digital History; Public History and Memory


This panel of federal historians will offer examples of the gaps in their own agency’s history, speak to why those gaps exist, and offer their own experiences of how they overcome those gaps in their own work. They will also examine how oral history and digital humanities creates opportunities to fill in these gaps through adding voices not previously represented in the archives.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: Jessie Kratz, National Archives
Jessie Kratz is the Historian of the National Archives. Upon her appointment as the agency’s first historian, she established the National Archives History Office to ensure National Archives history is being captured and shared. She speaks regularly at academic and history conferences, and writes articles on the history and importance of the National Archives. She is the editor the popular National Archives blog, Pieces of History, and runs the agency’s Oral History Program. Before becoming Historian, Ms. Kratz worked for 13 years at the Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, DC. Jessie holds a bachelor degree from St. Ambrose University, and a master’s degree from the George Washington University. Jessie is currently the President of the Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG).

Panelist: Eric William Boyle, Department of Energy
Eric W. Boyle earned his Ph.D. in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine from the University of California Santa Barbara in 2007. Prior to joining the Department of Energy in 2016, he taught courses in U.S. history and the history of science, technology and medicine at four different universities. From 2008-2011 he was also a Dewitt Stetten Postdoctoral Fellow in the Office of History at the National Institutes of Health. From 2012-2016 he served as Chief Archivist at the National Museum of Health and Medicine and visiting researcher at the NIH. Since 2012 he also been a Lecturer in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. At DOE, his responsibilities include: 1) researching, writing, and disseminating books, articles, reviews, website materials, and blog posts documenting the history of the Department of Energy and its predecessor agencies; 2) providing historical services and institutional memory to assist departmental management and staff in policy and decision-making activities; 3) participating in the Department’s historic preservation program as the agency’s Federal Preservation Officer; and 4) managing the 3000 cubic feet of records in the Department’s archives.

Panelist: Joshua David Esposito, U.S. Army Special Operations Command
Joshua Esposito has been a historian at U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), Fort Bragg, NC, since July 2017. He plans and executes collection efforts, and conducts oral history interviews to preserve Army special operations history. He researches, writes, and publishes articles focused on Army special operations in Veritas, the Journal of Army Special Operations History, and develops other products for publication. In addition, Joshua advises leaders on matters related to Army special operations history, and serves as the Army’s subject matter expert for Special Operations Aviation history. He has also been one of the USASOC History Office representatives contributing to the revision of the Army’s regulation for historical activities. Joshua earned a Ph.D. from West Virginia University in 2015.

Panelist: Terrance Rucker, George Washington University
Terrance Rucker is a Historical Publications Specialist in the Office of the Historian at the U.S. House of Representatives. He assists with editing the online Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Terrance is also a contributing writer to the four–volume Minorities in Congress series. Terrance graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a B.A. in history in 1998 and an M. A. in history from The George Washington University in 2007. A Ph.D. candidate at The George Washington University, Terrance is writing a dissertation about Congressional delegates in the Rocky Mountain West during the Civil War era.

Proposal Submitter Only: Mattea V. Sanders, Department of the Air Force

Panelist: Zack Wilske, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) History Office
Zack Wilske is the Senior Historian for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). His research interests include the history of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the development of federal immigration and nationality policies. He speaks regularly at academic and genealogy conferences and has published several articles on researching with federal immigration and naturalization records. Zack has a Bachelor’s degree in History from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA, and a Master’s degree in History from the University of Maryland at College Park.