Hi! I’m Barbara
I am a native San Franciscan, a scholar of California and the American West, and a historian who bridges the worlds of academic and public history. From my home in the Lost Sierra, on the traditional territory of the Mountain Maidu and Washoe peoples,* I work to make the past relevant, compelling, and accessible.
In 2013 I transitioned out of academia, leaving a tenured faculty position at the University of South Florida, because I realized just how huge the appetite for history was among the general public, and I wanted to have a hand in creating high quality, compelling stories and experiences. I also realized that I could have the broadest impact through public history, taking my work out of the classroom and into the world.
In 2014 I began working as the historian for the Presidio Trust, a federal agency. I was charged with making the history of the Presidio of San Francisco accessible, relevant, and engaging to a widely-diverse public audience. To that end I created an interpretive platform that activated historic sites to tell place-based stories at new locations on its campus; I curated several community-engaged exhibits that won awards; and I developed smart, innovative educational programming for life-long learners.
If you'd like to read more about me, my San Francisco upbringing, and how that influenced my approach to history, feel free to browse the first 5 pages of my book, Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the Urban West, 1846-1906, at this link.