Contentious Events in the Context of Federal History

Society for History in the Federal Government

Thursday, March 30, 2023, 12:45 PM - 2:15 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Archives and Bibliography; Politics; Public History and Memory


We will examine how federal historians and history professional address momentous or difficult events in agency or institutional histories and historical products. Participants will discuss how they choose to write about or portray these events when writing from their agencies' or institutions' perspective or while creating exhibits or other historical products. We will also discuss our individual agencies' responses to these events.

Session Participants

Chair: Kristin L. Ahlberg, U.S. Department of State
Kristin L. Ahlberg is a historian and Assistant to the General Editor in the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, where she compiles and reviews volumes in the Foreign Relations series. She earned her Ph.D. in diplomatic history from the University of Nebraska in 2003. Ahlberg is the author of Transplanting the Great Society: Lyndon Johnson and Food for Peace. She has published articles in Agricultural History, Diplomatic History, Great Plains Quarterly, and The Public Historian. She currently serves on the National Council on Public History Membership and Governance Committees and on the Executive Council of the Agricultural History Society. She is a past President of the Society for History in the Federal Government and was an elected member of the American Historical Association's Professional Division (2008-2011).

Panelist: Christine Blackerby
Christine Blackerby is the exhibits coordinator in the Capitol Visitor Center in the U.S. Capitol. She works to promote better understanding of Congress and the history of American representative government through museum exhibits and educational programs. She collaborates with stakeholders across Capitol Hill on the design and content of Exhibition Hall in the Capitol Visitor Center, including films, media interactives, artifacts, and historical records. Previously, Christine was an education and public outreach specialist for 15 years at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. She received a B.A. in history and political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a M.A. in education at the University of Kentucky.

Panelist: Jessie Kratz, National Archives
Jessie Kratz is the Historian of the National Archives. She speaks regularly at academic and history conferences, gives lectures, and writes articles on the history and importance of the National Archives. She is the editor of the National Archives blog, Pieces of History, and runs the agency's oral history program. Before becoming historian, Jessie worked at the Center for Legislative Archives. Jessie is active in several historical associations including serving as President of the Society for History in the Federal Government (2018-2019) and is currently co-chair of the Government Historians Committee for the National Council on Public History.

Panelist: Mattea V. Sanders, United States Air Force
Mattea Sanders is a Historian with the United States Air Force at Aviano Air Base, Italy. She was previously at Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility. She holds a Master of Arts in Public History from American University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She previously worked as a Historian with the National Park Service for the American Battlefield Protection Program and the Heritage Documentation Program. She also worked for the National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Archives and Records Administration. Mattea currently serves as the President of the Society for History in the Federal Government.

Panelist: Zachary A. Wilske, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Zach Wilske is the Senior Historian for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). He has worked in the USCIS History Office and Library since 2002. His research interests include the history of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the development of federal immigration and nationality policies, and the uses of INS records for historians and genealogists. He speaks regularly at genealogy and academic conferences, has published articles on researching with INS records, and has served as the President of the Society for History in the Federal Government. He received history degrees from St. Ambrose University (Davenport, Iowa) and the University of Maryland.