Caroline Klibanoff is a public historian, facilitating engaging, accessible and meaningful connections with the past.

AUDIENCE ADVOCAcy | Digital Strategy | museums | civic engagement

 

About Me

A sense of the past, and an understanding of how we remember it, is essential to charting the future — and I am committed to helping Americans seek and find opportunities for civic participation, informed by the lessons and stories of our shared history. My work bridges the civic engagement sphere with the public humanities, using digital tools and collaboration practices from each field to reach new audiences and tap into a renewed civic spirit as we together tackle the Big Questions around national identity, democracy, citizenship and culture.

At the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, I serve as the program manager for a new initiative which will mobilize history and civics organizations nationwide to launch a range of digital campaigns and programs in the years leading up to the nation’s 250th “birthday,” led by the Smithsonian along with a steering committee that includes the New York Historical Society, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the Atlanta History Center, the Senator John Heinz History Center, and the National Archives.

Previously, I was the project manager for exhibitions at the MIT Museum, developing exhibits for the museum’s current site as well as plans for the brand-new museum opening in 2021. I also worked in digital strategy for Big Tent Nation and the Bridge Alliance, where I developed and managed the Civvys Awards, the only national awards dedicated to celebrating collaboration; led monthly #DemocracyChats on Twitter; and helped roll out the inaugural National Week of Conversation.

I started my career in strategic communications at the Pew Research Center, before moving to a video production role at the FrameWorks Institute, two powerful anchors of public opinion and national discourse. I have had the chance to work for a variety of cultural heritage institutions including Longfellow House - George Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site; Northern Light Productions and the WWII Museum; the wonderful folks at the Cambridge Historical Society; and the Northeastern University's Digital Scholarship Group. On the side (and currently on hiatus) I launched a history blog co-written with my sisters, called Sistory.

Originally from Atlanta, I hold an M.A. in Public History and Digital Humanities from Northeastern University, and a B.A. in American Studies and Film/Media from Georgetown University.

 

Some Places I've Been

 

Recent Work

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City of Concrete

Learn the history behind Boston's "ugliest" architecture, and click through interactive components to decide whether they should be destroyed or preserved. I built this digital exhibit using Omeka for Victoria Cain's Museums and Exhibitions Course, Spring 2018.

States of Incarceration Massachusetts

I served on the planning committee to produce a local version of this traveling exhibit from the Humanities Action Lab. The panel I wrote and designed, "Boston's Geography of Incarceration," highlights spatial patterns of crime and imprisonment in Boston.

The Atlas of Southern Memory

In an age of fervent debate around who and what should be memorialized by statues, monuments and plaques, the Atlas of Southern Memory is a digital intervention for commemoration, enabling broader participation, annotation, and exploration in "what gets remembered." This project was funded in part through a seedling grant from the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks.

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The Past is Female Too

We all know "The Future is Female." As a historian dedicated to surfacing stories of women who have often been left out of the narrative, I'm certain "The Past is Female Too." Sistory launched this popular (and ongoing!) campaign of content and t-shirts.

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Writing for Sistory.co

A true passion project, Sistory is the history blog and newsletter I produce with my two sisters. Here's a sampling of my work:

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Liquor Ladies, Bootlegging Queens

When alcohol was outlawed in 1920, women more often than men stepped up to (literally) serve. Meet some of these queens in this interactive map. Full story here.

The girls built a one-room shack on the cemetery grounds and lived in it 24/7, guarding the property with shotguns. They put up a sign that said “Trespass at Your Own Peril.”

John Roosevelt was only five when his father contracted polio in 1921. The disease robbed the future president of the use of his legs and left him mostly wheelchair-bound. And John, the youngest child, was not having it.

Dorothy Counts took on a task no kid should have to endure when she became one of the first black students to enroll at an all-white school, in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1956. And now? She's on Facebook.

Long story short, no. Even if I had survived the journey out West, there would have been one serious sticking point: the soddie.

In 1922, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago had wide-ranging radio broadcast stations; Atlanta, the foremost Southern city, did not, representing a void for the whole region.

How can New Hampshire be home to one of the nation's first integrated schools - and also the mob that destroyed it?

Boston's 18th-century businesswomen left their significant estates to other women. I am moved by this, but also curious: was this common, or even accepted, for women to accumulate wealth and then pass it on to a gal pal rather than a spouse or family member?

How'd we get stuck with this national anthem? Turns out, we had our chance to change it. In 1861, the Committee Upon the National Hymn was formed to find a new national anthem. They were not successful.

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Raindrop. Drop top. She built a bridge when her man stopped. How Emily Roebling stepped up and built. that. bridge.

Women stepped up to fill construction roles during World War II and built the Waterloo Bridge. So why have they been left out of the story?

How many Smoots does it take to get across the Harvard Bridge? What - you've never heard of a Smoot?

The Boy Who Never Grew Up (Or Out of Copyright)

The author of Peter Pan has managed to hold onto a copyright license far longer than is ever typically granted. All of the proceeds benefit a children's hospital. But were his motivations pure?

See more of what I'm working on now, like public programs and a national civic awards initiative, in my Current Projects.