Introduction from a New Public Historian

Hello there! My name is Kevin Ploth and I am a Master’s student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City pursuing a M. A. in history. Typically, my entries will be centered on a theme related to my work at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. But today I would like to introduce myself and explain my purposes and goals.

I am currently pursuing a degree in Public History, however, I only recently switched from the regular History track to the Public History track.  I’ve always loved researching and writing history, but have never had the disposition to become a professor. Coming up on my fourth semester in the regular History program, I started to panic after realizing that I was heading down a road unsuited to me. In the midst of this career path crisis, I decided to spend my summer interning at the Jackson County Historical Society archives to explore other potential career options. By the end of the internship, I felt like I was finally on the right path and promptly switched to the Public History program. As a part of my recent academic pivot, I’ve begun interning at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum’s archives department.

For three years I’ve lacked direction, searching for my passion and a place to apply it. I doubt I’m the only person who’s felt this way. In addition to informing you on the methods and nature of my work, I want this to be a personal experience where I can try to relate to you and share my experiences, uncertainties, reflections, and discoveries. Some of the themes I’ll be reflecting on will be audience, collaboration and sharing authority, service, and any other themes I may discover during this exciting new transition.

Public history and the archival field are both completely new to me. They are so different from the research and writing that I’ve become so comfortable with. It can be stressful at times, but I’m ready to try something new and escape the complacency that’s left me stagnant. My goal is to contribute to the field and collaborate with those around me, which I hope to accomplish by sharing my experiences at the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum with you!

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