The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Rachel Panasci

Fields: Public history, local history

History is a subject that has always been close to my heart. Growing up I collected stories of my grandfather’s role in the Korean War, listened intently as my dad shared his endless knowledge of the world and its past with me and marveled at the industrious past of Waterbury CT, a city so close to me and seemingly inconspicuous. Convinced that my interests were better suited as a hobby, I tested out a variety of majors before eventually deciding to pursue a career in the field in my third year of my undergraduate degree.

In my last year at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT I took an introductory course in Public History and was hired at the New England Air Museum as a Public Programs Facilitator. It was at that time I was able to express and grow my interest in local history, particularly in relation to place, and how it plays into larger historical themes. My senior thesis focused on the reactions to Joseph Stalin’s death in northeastern U.S. media and I presented at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this past January on the representation of Native American populations in the Connecticut Federal Census.

Currently, I am a Community Volunteer Ambassador at Weir Farm National Historic Site where I’m involved in a series of interpretive projects and assist in the management of the park’s volunteer program. Here I’m able to combine my love for history and enjoyment of the outdoors and actively engage visitors and volunteers in the national legacy of American Impressionism at its roots, which has only reinforced my interest in public history.  At UMass I plan to continue my studies in local history, public history and hope to explore the Historic Preservation field.