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Doing Public History at Mount Vernon with Jeanette Patrick

Like many folks around the country, you might have spent the last three evenings watching Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Washington documentary series on the History Channel.

Documentaries are a form of public history, which we might define loosely as making historical knowledge available and accessible for the public’s benefit.

At Mount Vernon, we think about how to do this work a great deal. How can we create frameworks for public understanding of the past that balances expertise with accessibility?

On today’s episode, Jeanette Patrick discusses her efforts to make the Washingtons, Mount Vernon, and their respective histories engaging for the public.

Patrick is Mount Vernon’s Digital Researcher and Writer, which is another way of saying “public historian,” and she is responsible for a goodly portion of the historical content you’ll find on our websites.

You’ll hear Patrick describe some of the ways that Mount Vernon decides which public history projects to pursue, and how she became a public historian in the first place.

About Our Guest:

Jeanette Patrick is Mount Vernon's Digital Researcher and Writer. Among her many responsibilities, she serves as Associate Editor of the Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington.  He holds an MA in Public History from James Madison University. She is a former Program Manager at the National Women's History Museum in Washington, D.C.

About Our Host: 

Jim Ambuske leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2016 with a focus on Scotland and America in an Age of War and Revolution. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  He is the co-author with Randall Flaherty of "Reading Law in the Early Republic: Legal Education in the Age of Jefferson," in The Founding of Thomas Jefferson's University ed. by John A. Rogasta, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew O'Shaughnessy (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019). Ambuske is currently at work on a book entitled Emigration and Empire: America and Scotland in the Revolutionary Era, as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.