Krista Hampton

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Interviewee: Krista Hampton
Interviewer: Constance Mandeville
Date: October 17, 2016
Accession #: PHP 011
Length of Recording: 51:19
Sound Recording
Summary

Krista Hampton was born in Ohio but grew up in Texas. She became interested in museums after visiting the Mark Twain House as a child. Hampton earned a degree from Miami University in Ohio. In 1994, she enrolled in the Applied History Program at the University of South Carolina. Though Hampton originally planned to concentrate in museums, she later decided to concentrate in historic preservation. Hampton held assistantships at the South Carolina State Museum working with the registrar and the city planning office of the City of Columbia. Interview includes discussion of how she helped develop the White Pine Camp (the summer White House of President Calvin Coolidge) into a museum, her experiences traveling to England and Charleston as part of her education, and memorable classwork. Hampton graduated from the program in 1999. After graduation, Hampton worked as a preservation planner for the City of Columbia and she was promoted to the head of her department in 2011.

 

Keywords

Charleston Field School | England Field School | Historic Preservation | Mark Twain House | Miami University (Ohio) | Museum Registrars | President Calvin Coolidge | White Pine Camp

 

Transcript

Constance Mandeville.: It is the October 17th or 16th?

Krista Hampton: 16th. Oh no. You’re right actually. It was 17. I need to change that.

CM: No worries. It’s October 17th. We’re in Columbia, South Carolina at the Thomas Cooper Library. It is approximately 1:30 pm. I’m here with…

KH: Krista Hampton.

CM: We’re doing an oral history interview for the public history program or history project. I would like to start off the interview by saying first thank you for agreeing to do this.

KH: Absolutely.

CM.: Great to actually connect with someone well outside of going to NCPH, is where I usually see people. I want to start out with a question of how did you end up at USC at the public history program? Was it the public history program when you were here?

KH: It was Applied History.

CM: It was still Applied.

KH: Yeah. I was finishing up my undergraduate in American Studies, which was interdisciplinary at Miami of Ohio. Trying to figure out what I was going to do with that because obviously that doesn’t fit you into careers easily. I started off…I loved museums. I wanted to work in museums. I just did a bunch of research in different programs. I had in my undergraduate taken some classes in Southern history…had kind of almost did a small concentration with a couple of professors that I really liked up there. They suggested the University of South Carolina. I also applied to Case Western. A couple of others I don’t even really remember who they were.

In the final analysis I think I was accepted to Case Western and USC. Just looking at the focus on the history part in addition to the technical, professional expertise in museums was how I came to USC. Additionally, I grew up in Texas. I was a bit tired of the cold.

(Laughter)

CM: I was going to ask if you were from Ohio because you went to Miami and also applied to Case Western but no, you just…

KH: Well, I was born there but I moved away like one or so.

CM: Same way with me. I was born in Michigan and moved away when I was one.

KH: You’re like, ‘I’m kind of from there but not really’. So, that’s and again, also my adviser in the American Studies program, Elliott [J.] Gorn, was familiar with Dr. Weyeneth.

CM: So, what year was this happening?

KH: I graduated undergraduate in ninety-three. So, I took a semester off. I came in January of ninety-four.

CM: What was life like here? What…how was the day to day with the graduate school program?

KH: I gotta get my wayback machine. It was a lot of work but it was a lot of fun. It was very collegial. We had a great group of students both ahead and with us. There was a great support group. It was structured with regard to the requirements but a lot of flexibility was granted for you to pursue your desires which I wanted to do. It was also time…this was before money got super tight. There we had graduate assistantships that paid money and gave you credits. That was great. There were requirements for summer internships…those kinds of things. Am I getting at what you’re looking for?

CM: Yeah. What was your assistantship?

KH: I started off at the South Carolina State Museum. I was very fortunate. I worked in both registration and conservation.

CM: Did you have to apply for that? Or was that just…opportunity.

KH: I don’t remember applying for it. I just got…I got lucky a lot. (Laughs). That was great because I needed the money. I was getting some funding but I had to work as well to help pay for my grad school.

CM: Where’d you worked?

KH: Well, I worked there. It actually provided a stipend and it could decrease my tuition. I also waited tables. Then at one point…at the end of my tenure I was waiting tables, teaching aerobics, working at the state museum, and working at the city of Columbia.

CM: What were you doing for the city?

KH: I had another assistantship there. That was an interesting story. They have been trying for a very long time to get an assistantship from the city in preservation. They finally did. The person, the student, flaked out for some reason. Dr. Weyeneth called me and said, “Do you want this? Can you fill in?” I said, “Heck yeah.”

CM: Was your concentration in museums or in preservation? You mentioned…

KH: I switched. (Laughter).

CM: Why’d you switched?

KH: When I actually got into the museum work, I found that like working in the state museum…to be perfectly honest, I was…I just got a little bored working in the museum. It could’ve just and I really enjoyed…I took Dr. Weyeneth’s class as an elective. I got really excited by Historic Preservation.

CM: Was it just historic pres. or was it a different class?

KH: I think it was…it must’ve been one-on-one. Yeah. As he says, “I went to the dark side.” (Laughter).

CM: He’s tried to come for me too.

(Laughter).

KH: You have resisted young jedi.

CM: I know I said I assumed as a city planner that you would switch…at one point because of preservation. Did that lead to your job that you got?

KH: It absolutely did.

CM: Can you tell me more about that?

KH: Certainly. My task for the assistantship, they had conducted a city-wide preservation survey. The consultant left them with the documentation in a format that is less than desirable. Could just be generous with that. They needed someone to come in and organize and get the certain A-files in order. So I did. At the time, however, my boss was kind of having a meltdown and he eventually left. So, I was there…kind of on my own…doing this job. Luckily, I was prepared for it through my schoolwork. He left and a new boss came in and another staff person who was a zoning tech left and the new boss said, “You want this job?” and I said, “Sure.”

It was zoning and historic preservation. Half and half.

CM: Did you learn anything about zoning in classes or is that something you learn on the job?

KH: Absolutely on the job. I knew enough about local, historical districts, which gave me an idea of what it was, so that at least I wasn’t completely ignorant when I went in.

CM: In regard to your two assistantships, we’re not allowed to have…to work around 20 hours a week. If they found out that we are waiting tables, we could get in trouble.

KH: Really?

CM: Yeah. Did you work more than 20 hours a week at both…at these assistantships?

KH: Yeah. Oh yeah.

CM: So, it was full-time and school?

KH: Yeah, by that time I was almost finished with my classwork. No, I was pretty much finished with my classwork. I was about to write my thesis. I believe we just had one class. That’s why it took me until 2000…no, 1999 to finally finish because I just started working.

CM: Okay. You took a little bit longer than other students…like in your cohort.

KH: Right.

CM: You mentioned…you said that your classes…you were prepared for the city planning job. Can you tell me more on how you were prepared for that from your experiences here?

KH: Certainly, the historic preservation part of the classwork…well, in addition to just the research skills…we took the research skills, historiography. A lot of zoning and planning is about researching presidents, what are the existing conditions, context, those kinds of things. Historic preservation is very similar in that respect. Then into planning…pardon me, planning is the same in that respect. You’re trying to figure out what are the best solutions for your resource. Be it…land use in neighborhood, a street. You take those skills at looking at best uses for historic resources and relay those into city planning.

Additionally, because I had gained an appreciation for what historic buildings do to create a sense of place. a lot of planning now is about maintaining or creating a sense of place. I was able to talk that language.

CM: Can you tell me more about the specific classes that helped prepare you or any more just about your classes in general?

KH: Well, the historic preservation classes for sure. They taught about the law…so, preservation…the fundamentals that gird that. The Charleston Field School as well, which I went on was very useful. I learned a tremendous amount that was then useful in my current job. It was at…Connie, her research methods class. Not for the reasons…not for necessarily the content but Dr. Bryan’s…I think it was the architectural history class…I can’t remember but he had us do a variety of things we weren’t necessarily doing in our other classes with regard to using some design software like photoshop and doing some other things like that. I went to Kiplin.

CM: You went to where?

KH: I went to Kiplin Hall too. That was great from a project perspective. Being collaborative and working on a team on a project. Much of the other work was independent. Kiplin Hall was had a collaborative team project that we all had to work on and have a useful product for the property.

CM: Was that a class project or was that separate?

KH: It was counted for class. It was the summer. It was in England.

CM: Oh. Was it kind of like an England Field School?

KH: Yeah.

CM: Okay. How was going…can you tell me more about the…I mean going to England cause that’s such a different environment.

KH: It was terrific. It was a terrific experience. Mostly residing on the property and getting to have a field for what it probably felt like to be there. In addition to assisting with the interpretation. Me going to London was amazing. It was really great. London too, we got to and of course, they had terrific field experiences for us. Going to different museums and after which, we critique their interpretations. In York, wherever it was, where you go underground, it was kind of like Disney. They wouldn’t just show us the best. They show us some of the ones that might be questionable. That we could gain kind of a critical eye towards what works, what doesn’t work and then talking to professionals as well. It was great.

CM: Were there any other field trips or any major projects you did in your other classes?

KH: No, not major team projects that I remember. There could have been but my memory might fail me.

CM: What was the useful product that you created for Kiplin Hall…do you remember?

KH: It was going to be…it was intended to be when you walked in kind of an overview of history of the house. I don’t know whether they were able to use it to be perfectly honest. We did produce it. We came back. We worked with film studies try to get into a…I think it was film studies. To try to get it into a format that was workable but it was also, we thought it would be a good cause at the time, it’s not a very accessible house. For those who have disabilities or anything like that, they can come in and still experience the house and get the history without necessarily walking around. At that time I was still “museums”. The preservation people studied and researched the ownership of the land in the area.

CM: Did you take any museum classes besides the England field school?

KH: Um, I did. I’m trying…it was with Lynn Robertson and her…it was over at McKissick. I think I only took the one.

CM: It was mainly your experience at the assistantship that made you switch?

KH: Yeah. It certainly was not the classes. They were all good people.

CM:  Maybe Bob a little bit.

KH: Yeah…a lot probably. (Laughter).

CM: Can you tell me more about Bob’s influence?

KH: He just really and I’m trying to think…I guess there wasn’t a museum person at that time. There wasn’t…it was Bob and Connie that was it. He just made it really interesting. Made the preservation work seem extremely compelling and it also spoke to kind of the social history side as well…that I really enjoyed. He…plus, he’s just a great guy. It made it…and I guess that’s why they went to public history. It just made it feel alive and I was excited and energized by how he portrayed preservation.

CM: Did you take any other type of archive classes with Connie besides the research methods?

KH: No. No, I didn’t.

CM: In my other interviews, that research methods class came now is really important to some people. Did you agree with that?

KH: Absolutely, that was as far as going into my different job just that hands on skills that it gave me and the critical thinking too…it was very important. Do they offer that any longer?

CM: No.

KH:  I think it was team taught too. If I remember correctly. I seem to remember…

CM: I think…from other interviews, it might just be that Connie was a major person in it but I think…especially because they went to a lot of archives right?

KH: I think she must’ve brought in other speakers a lot too.

CM: I think that’s a theme of Connie.

KH: Yeah.

CM: She’s very connected, collaborative. She’s awesome. Why don’t you tell me about your experiences with your cohort?

KH: Cohort. As I mentioned it was a very collegial group. We all got along very well. We socialize outside of class pretty frequently. Yeah, I went to…I sang in one of the wedding of one of my cohorts. It was a pretty close group at the time.

CM: It was only public history students or was that also some traditional PhDs or traditional MAs.

KH: It was mainly public history but there was some other people who I remember who would weave in and out but a large group…folks I remember hanging out with them the most were mainly public…now some of them were PhD. I’m thinking of one in particular, I think there was an art history person but it’s pretty tight with public history.

CM: Did you…was there any tension between the traditional MA and PhD public history students in the department?

KH: I don’t remember any but I don’t really remember any. I remember we would tease each other but that would be about it. There wasn’t anything beyond just teasing. You know we would say, “We apply our history.” That kind of silliness. (Laughter).

(Laughter).

CM: Understandable. As an American Studies background…you mentioned interdisciplinary.

KH: Mhm.

CM: How did that affect your experience here? Cause I’ve mentioned…even in this interview you mentioned like film studies happening…and how it’s…it seems like it’s interdisciplinary in your education. Did your background help you at all with that?

KH: Oh yeah. I…that’s why I was drawn to American Studies. Probably why I was so happy with this program was the ability to learn from other areas. American Studies was Political Science…literature, art, history obviously. You could kind of copy…you had a quarter and you would kind of create your own program beyond that. I remember vaguely taking a geography course here…or at least going to some of those programs. I think it was beneficial and helpful.

CM: Did you apply that all to your thesis? Can you tell me about your thesis?

KH: Sure. My thesis was about preservation in Columbia with the focus on Mabel [Bradley] Payne. I was…I’ve always been interested in women’s history…when I found this woman is pretty much responsible for the historic preservation program in the city, I wanted…no one really knew about her. I wanted to shine a light out on her. There was another woman out in Columbia, who was a, more known but that was because she raised a bunch of money to help save a house, Jenny Dreher.  No one really knew what Mabel did. I couldn’t just write about Mable. I wrote about the preservation program, how it came about…obviously Mabel starred greatly in that role.

CM: Okay.

KH: That…I guess that wasn’t interdisciplinary per say but it certainly was out with the preservation…historic preservation part.

CM: I mean gender that would probably, I mean just looking at that, probably had more to do with it than the interdisciplinary things.

KH: Yeah, that’s true cause I took Women’s Studies classes at Miami, which was another…great…thinking about that.

CM: What about your internship?

KH: It was awesome. Dr. Bob said I was the only person he knew who had an internship where I got to go camping, which was only true. Again, I had to have an internship that paid me because I couldn’t not get paid. The only one I could find was in upstate New York. They were opening up one of the old, great camps. White Pine Camp was its name.

CM: Do you know where it was?

KH: Um, near Paul Smith’s, yep.

CM: I’m from New York.

KH: Oh okay. It’s a great area. Howard Kirschenbaum …he had been a part of…I guess some of the other big camps, Uncas, and those were not profits. Well, he was opening this one up as a for-profit museum. We started…I just went up there and they gave us room and board and a stipend and we helped them set up this historic site as a museum, which was great. So it wasn’t really camping but it was close.

CM:….Adirondacks.

KH: Yeah. (Laughter). It was pretty great.

CM: Yeah. That’s cool. How did you find out about the internship?

KH: At the time, I think they just have them advertised in some sort of…it was a book cause I don’t think there was anything online back then. You had to write in and apply. Fortunately, I was selected. There were three interns.

CM: Cool. Where were the other interns from? Do you remember?

KH: Eugene, Oregon and somewhere in the Midwest like Indiana or something. We were a pretty well dispersed group.

CM: Did you…when you chose the thesis…was that, that’s something you discovered while working at the city or how did you discover those records?

 KH: Yes, I did. There was a cigar box full of slides and it said, Mabel Payne”. Then I would look through some of the old files and see her name but there wasn’t anything per say to indicate her importance or her significance. No one had really written on the preservation program in Columbia as well. Which I thought was fascinating. I just kind of stumble upon it.

CM: What about conferences? Did you go to any conferences while here?

KH: I did. I went to the Southeastern Museum Conference. It was in New Orleans that year. I got a scholarship for that. I can’t remember…I think it was from the Southeastern Museum Conference who gave me the scholarship. I think that was it. I think I went to…that was the only one I went to.

CM: Do you remember anything about the trip?

KH: I remember a reception at a really awesome historic house that was preserved. That was in an art museum gallery. (Laughter). That’s about it.

CM: Did you go with other students or did you go by yourself?

KH: There…I’m trying to think. I think I was one of one or two students from South Carolina. I went though…my boss, the register at the museum, Michelle Baker. She was going as well as someone else from the museum. I actually just stayed in their room cause it was paid for. I went with them.

CM: Did you only go to it because of your assistantship?

KH: No, I went to it because of school but also because of Michelle. She was big in that group. She encouraged me to do that. I had to change my mind too. We went to…it must’ve been an AMA (sic AMM) conference in Philadelphia. A group of us got in a van and went.

CM: Do you mean AMM [Association of Midwest Museums]?

KH: AMM. I’m sorry. Yeah. AMM. That’s it. We went to Philadelphia.

CM: How’s that? Do you remember?

KH: The conference?

CM: Mhm.

KH: I remember…I can’t remember any specific sessions but I remember just being blown away cause that was my first really big conference just by how many people were there.

CM: In the conference?

KH: Kind of the excitement of it all. It was great.

CM: You didn’t go to any preservation conferences?

KH: No, by the time I switched over…you know…there was the National Trust but those things were ridiculously expensive. I went later when I was working but not while I was in school.

CM: Never to NCPH?

KH: No.

CM: Well, they push it on us.

KH: Yeah. You know when I was here I don’t think that was…it wasn’t as encouraged perhaps. So, I think they do that more but they are really exciting at a lot of these conferences. Unless you get a scholarship.

CM: Yeah. All right. Sometimes you get deals for volunteering.

KH: That’s true.

CM: Yeah, it’s expensive.

KH: Even now the American Planning Association and all of these conferences are just really expensive. (Laughter).

CM: Definitely. Did you have any other influential professors while here besides Bob?

KH: Well, Connie. For sure. I mean because of her…both the research method and the England field school. She certainly did. Gosh…I can see him. Modern history professor…he was fabulous. I took two of history classes because I liked him so well. I hate that I can’t remember his name. I think he was in the program for a while. Anyway, it will come to me or I’ll google him. (Laughter). He was important even though I don’t remember his name. I really enjoyed him.

CM: You mentioned that your assistantship was boring at the museum. Can you tell me more about that?

KH: Sure and it wasn’t Michelle. I learned a lot from Michelle. Michelle and I are friends still. It was a lot of data entry. I don’t do a lot of data entry. Accessioning objects. Taking them in, writing down on the card and taking their picture and then painting the number on them. Then when I wasn’t doing that I was doing the hygrometer, or dusting. (Laughter). Those…now, in the conservation lab, I was killing a lot of brain cells preserving a pharmacy cabinet. We would do…there was some interesting things in there as well, but I guess I just needed a little bit more…

CM: Well, it just…

KH: Activity.

CM: I can understand that. Working with collections, it depends if that’s what you want to do. It sounds like that’s not the museum side of things you were interested in.

KH: Yeah. So, maybe if I had been with one of the curators and did research or something like that…that had may have been a different outcome.

CM: You’re happy…

KH: I am.

CM: Let’s talk about that now. Regards to life after the program. You’ve mentioned how you got a job and can you tell me more about what you’ve done as a city planner and also, how you see your experience at USC kind of play into that position?

KH: Sure. I started out you know working at the counter and doing historic preservation and I’ve had a number of jobs in between then and to the point now…five years ago, I guess I came director of the department. It was that initial experience in a…working with historic preservation that allowed me to take all of those steps. We learned this…of course before I came to grad school but it was certainly still encouraged was the critical thinking part and the questioning and not being satisfied with just taking things as they are. When I got into the program, for instance, I was looking at how they would be administering the historic preservation program and it was very cookie cutter with regard to its historic districts. Then, in reviewing the codes and knowing what I learned I realized that it could actually have more flexibility and a lot more districts.

They had not…they had certain districts that were set up upon establishing the program, they only designated one additional district from the sixties from the time I came in ninety-four. Soon after looking at how I thought the program could work, we just started designating districts like every other year because it wasn’t just banker’s houses that would be eligible. That really changed the historic preservation program and opened it up to a lot greater part of the city. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do that had I not had that background.

CM: With your position…question of how much…do you consider city planning public history? Do you see the…could you have done this job without a public history degree?

KH: It’s actually…I am an outlier in this position with the degree I have. Most planning directors have planning degrees…have undergraduate planning degrees. I don’t know however…many other disciplines that you can necessarily come into this job where you didn’t have a planning degree where you’ll still be successful. Other than public history and maybe some other…I mean there’s also, public administration. People will sometimes come into through public administration. Having done the on the groundwork of historic preservation, set me up so I could still be successful. I guess I had to flip it to say it’s actually odd that I’m in this job with my public history degree. However, because of what I’ve learned through it.. the skills, I’m still able to be successful regardless of the fact that I don’t have a planning degree.

CM: Do you think it gives you any advantages?

KH: I do. Just like anything if…I think it can be an occupational hazard if you’re a historic preservationist and you’ve always come up with historic preservation. You see things a certain way because I’m not necessarily bound by all of that knowledge. I’ll sometimes ask questions or maybe do things. Some they’re silly…why would you do that. Sometimes, it’s just…it’s a different way but it may be a better way to go at it because I’m not bound by some of those things…that…those conventions, I guess.

CM: When you started the program and now where you ended up…are you happy where you ended up?

KH: I’m very happy. I never would’ve thought I’ll be doing what I’m doing in a million years. I’m very happy, it’s a terrific job. It’s an extremely challenging job but I’m very happy with it.

CM: What’s your favorite part about the job?

KH: I make an impact and my job actually can affect how a city grows. How it looks. It’s not just me, it’s a team effort but I get to have an influence on that. When I was the historic preservation planner I remember we were working on the Vista and doing different things down there and it’s not immediately evident but now, I get to drive down and say I had…I helped approve that building or we had to review this. The other thing that I really love about my job too, is that I get to work with people and that can be a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, they hate me. Sometimes, they love me. We get to facilitate communities’ visions for themselves now too. It’s not just…it’s never ‘what would Krista want your neighborhood to look like’. We provide the tools and the forum for the community to tell us what it would look like and we’re able to take that and help make it happen.

CM: Do you have a favorite project that you’ve worked on?

KH: Well, my first historic designation, which was the Old Shandon/Lower Waverly neighborhood. It was a significant challenge but it preserved neighborhoods that might not have otherwise seen historic designation. It was really tough but there were lots of people who were opposed to it but it was…in the end, it worked out well.

CM: Why were they opposed?

KH: People generally don’t like to have additional regulation on their land in this town. (Laughter). It’s a property rights thing. It’s a matter of balancing that.

CM: I just wondered…I know that Old Shandon is not necessarily racial but parts of Waverly are. I wonder if there’s that aspect.

KH: What’s really interesting is the survey showed that those were two separate districts, however over time the neighborhood…where the neighborhoods thought they were had overlapped. For the Old Shandon to come in, we had to go talk to Mr. Carter cause that’s a historically Black neighborhood now recently. He said, “If y’all are gonna get it, I’m gonna get it too.” We’re gonna do that then. Come on in. More the merrier. It was, and I was really pleased to see him say that…that we’re historic too and if y’all are gonna go for that, we’re gonna go for it as well. It was quite a dynamic but it was…we got it done.

CM: Have you had…especially because you’re in Columbia. In your job have you worked with public history students at all?

KH: Yes, we used to have some intern. We used to have…before I became director, we would have Summer and we have some interns during the year back when we had more money too. Then we’ve actually hired public history students. We currently have…Staci Richey still worked with us.

CM: She comes and talks a lot to us.

KH: Yeah. She’s awesome. We’ve hired other students over the years. They moved on to other jobs.

CM: What kind of projects they did as interns?

KH: We had…back when I was doing the pre[servation planning] — Amy Moore is now the preservation planner — we would help have them help us with neighborhood surveys. When we were looking for designation. I know they had them working on some of our documents, our files. What we call our street files. Doing historical research on some of the properties for the street files as well.

CM: Have you…over the years have you seen changes in the public history program through your interactions with some of the students?

KH: I’ve seen additional emphasis on the work skill. I think I’ve heard now you can do GIS instead of foreign language, which I wish that were around when I was here. The portfolio presentations, to make up a professional portfolio, I’ve seen that occur. There seems to be from my vantage point, not that it wasn’t there, I want to say additional emphasis on the professional, ensuring that people are prepared for the professional world.

CM: In recent years, have you had public history students in your office at all? Or has that died down?

KH: It has. We had not have any internships or assistantships here lately.

CM: Do you have…do you talk to Bob often? Do you have a relationship with him, in regards to…

KH: You know we lost touch…I see him every once a while but I hate that too. Every once in a….he always sends me emails. I’m on the listerv but I haven’t seen him as much as I like.

CM: I just…especially because Stacy would kind of. I was just curious if you used to come to classes or anything like that.

KH: I did when I was a preservation planner position. I would speak to his class every year but then once I moved on, he got the preservation person to come back. (Laughter). Which is fine.

CM: Things change. What would you vision for the future of public history be like?

KH: Well, continue foundation of the history. I mean that has to be there. A program…I don’t see it changing all that much. It’s a program that helps to bring history through life and the professional world. I wonder whether there’s a way to soften the specialties, so it doesn’t seem quite so historic preservation…archives, museums. I guess that’s important when you leave you can say I had a concentration in but it’s almost as if when you go in, do you need to declare that as opposed to just kind of coming in and figuring out your path perhaps. Obviously, I didn’t know what I was doing or really wanted when I first went there. It may be beneficial.

CM: What about just as a whole outside this program? Do you see changes in public history as a field?

KH: It’s always gonna be relevant. I don’t think that it has to fight for its relevance, at least in my mind. I think it just has to maybe focus on…in addition to the academic research, the professional standards. Planning I think…planning schools, having some a little bit of that. That they focus on certain planning standards. Now, I don’t want to see it standardized. I don’t think that’s a good idea. I really appreciate what the variety of the program brings to the field. I hate to see it standardized but I do think it would be beneficial to have professional standards.

CM: You said that you’ll always think it will be relevant. Why do you think public history will always be relevant?

KH: I guess it goes back to the applied history because that term though it’s awkward because I think we will always need a way to train people to bring history into the public or apply it. I mean it’s one thing to learn it and then go out on your own and figure it out but to have the train and the experiences that public history programs bring, you get so far so fast as opposed to just having to learn to be a public historian and then go out and learn it on your own. I think in that respect, it will always be relevant.

CM: I guess if you’re trying to convince a student now that public history is important…how would you convince them to enter a public history program? How would you convince them that it will get them a job or…

KH:  Public history at USC or just public history in general?

CM: In general.

KH: Well, jobs are not always easy to come by, however but public history…I would say to this person…you take your foundation of academic research that you were given…it’s really a vocational training because you were given the professional skills that you need to then go into actual professions. Certainly, there are professions that are historian but those are a little bit more difficult to come by. If you go into public history it really is…I have never thought about it this way. It really is kind of a high-level vocational training that would prepare you to get into jobs in the world. It was a lot of fun.

(Laughter).

CM: Would you mind telling me how it’s fun?

KH: Well, I still every once and a while…I don’t get to do it very often…for instance, I was I guess you have to find it’s telling a story. It’s storytelling and teaching people that’s something know and especially whether it’s a play or a building or an object. People get excited about that. Being able to get into finding those stories and researching them and then imparting them or other to others. Or using those stories convenience people about the values that you have resource. That’s incredibly exciting.

CM: I didn’t ask you this before but you mentioned when you first started you were gonna do museums. Is there something particular that brought you into the idea of museums? You mentioned American studies, but you never mentioned why particularly museums…I don’t think.

KH: I think it was the Mark Twain house museum. I lived in Connecticut for a while too. I went there and just was completely in armored and I’ve gone back since and I see why it’s a terrific site.

CM: See, I liked the Harriet Beecher Stowe House better.

KH: I never made it next door. I’ve been twice but I’ve never made it next door because I’ve spent like my entire time there. The first time I went…the next time I went. My dad still lives in Connecticut, so I can go back.

CM: I mean I went with my dad in high school. We would both because we actually…he wanted to go to Mark Twain’s house and I didn’t know it was right next door and I said, “We have to go there, it’s right next door.” I got my way.

(Laughter).

KH: It’s one of those things like, which is not good because I always knew it was like close to my dad. I can always go back next time but now I’m down here. Just that the interpretation, but I look back at it and I probably to saw the architecture, which is pretty stunning. They really tell a great story, I think.

CM: Yeah. I can remember some of things even when I toured.

KH: Yeah cause it wasn’t about the furniture. It wasn’t “this piece”. It was about the family’s lives, which was so cool.

CM: Yeah, how they went bankrupt and stuff. (Unintelligible 50:15-16).

KH: Cats. He loved cats.

CM: It’s always fun.

KH: Cat socks on.

(Laughter).

CM: That’s really…museums should just talk about cats and manuels. That’s how we’ll get the money.

KH: Right.

CM: I guess in regards I think that’s all the questions I was looking for. Is there anything about your experience that I didn’t ask you about you would…

KH: (Confirms no – 50:46). I think you’ve been very thorough.

CM: I just have one final question. Why don’t you volunteer to be interviewed?

KH:  I always liked to give back to students. I was a student, a lot of people helped me out and I wouldn’t be able to be where I am if a lot of people hadn’t stepped up and said, “I’ll help out.” I’m very fond of the program and I’m fond of folks coming up. Just wanted to help.

CM: I appreciate that.

KH: Certainly.