PubComm 2015 Explores History on the Edge in Philadelphia

The fifth annual PubComm was held at the Arch Street Meeting House on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. PubComm stands for Public History Community Forum and is an effort to get public historians together to talk about hot issues in the field, learn about new projects, and to more-or-less have a good time! Organized by Temple University public history graduate students, Joana Arruda, Grace DiAgostino, and Maegan Pollinger, PubComm was attended by over fifty students, academics, and public history professionals.

T10404274_608533152616381_2578630587349781283_nhe day began with eleven short presentations from a variety of public historians from diverse backgrounds. Genealogists, artists, archivists, curators, and many more discussed their ground-breaking work and multifaceted approaches to history. Inspired by this year’s theme “History on the Edge” at the National Council on Public History (NCPH) conference, Joana wanted to incorporate projects that infused an element of risk-taking. Some of the presenters whose projects challenged the boundaries of public history included Annie Anderson from Eastern State Penitentiary, Ezra Nepon’s “Trans Histories of Existence, Resistance, and Brilliance” in collaboration with William Way LGBT Community Center, Maggie Schreiner’s “We Won’t Move: Tenants Organize in New York City at the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives,” and many more.

Following the initial presentations, everyone migrated to the East Room of the Meeting House where attendees were able to discuss the projects with the speakers. The format of this portion of the day has been termed “Public History Speed-Dating,” where attendees rotated tables every 15 minutes to discuss the speakers’ individual projects. Everyone then convened for the unconference portion of PubComm, which concluded the day. Attendees engaged in fruitful conversation and discussion, and everyone is looking forward to the sixth annual PubComm!

-Joana Arruda and Grace DiAgostino

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