Rachel C Kirby


PhD Candidate in American Studies

Public Humanities


I strongly believe in the importance of public facing research, and I seek out opportunities to pursue historical and cultural work outside of the academy. Included below are descriptions of some of my public humanities experiences, along with links to digitally available work, when available.
Boston Red Sox

In the summer of 2019, I began working as an intern for the Boston Red Sox as part Boston University's PhD Internships in the Humanities program. Upon completing this initial internship, I was hired to continue my work with the Red Sox through May 2020. I worked primarily with Gordon Edes, the Red Sox historian at the time, and I also assisted Sarah Coffin, the team curator. My various tasks included conducting research for Gordon's various speeches, interviews, and presentations; assisting with tours of Fenway Park, the oldest Major League ballpark; assisting with the ongoing efforts to rehouse the baseball card collection; and sorting, assessing, inventorying boxes of previously uncatalogued materials (scouting reports, newspapers, memorabilia, etc.). In addition, I updated and wrote multiple articles for Gordon Edes's Medium.com blog:
Drafting an article from Fenway's Green Monster
Nichols House Museum
 
In 2017, I was the Julie Linsdell and Georgia Linsdell Enders Research Fellow at the Nichols House Museum in Boston, MA. For this fellowship, I was asked to conduct original archival research and write and present a paper on a topic that the museum staff could incorporate into their regular tour interpretation. The Nichols House is primarily interpreted as a nineteenth-century building and eventual home to Arthur Nichols, a practicing medical doctor, his wife, and their three daughters. Yet, over its years as a private residence and, later, a museum, the Nichols House was also the home and workplace of numerous other individuals who were employed as servants, maids, caretakers, and museum staff.

I combined my interests in vernacular architecture and museum interpretation to tell the history of domestic employment within the Nichols House. The names and stories of some of the family's countless employees are scattered throughout account books, diaries, and letters. The house itself displays signs of these less-remembered individuals, as evidenced in the layered utilitarian alterations in the kitchen, rear service buildings, enclosed staircase, and on the fourth floor - the initial site of the maids' lodgings. My final paper illustrated that the lives and labor of those employed at the Nichols House were fundamental to the daily occurrences on the site and the physical fabric of the house itself.

The culminating paper, "From Maids to Mary King: Stories and Spaces of the Nichols House Employees," is available via the Nichols House Museum website.
Coastal Voices: An Oral History of the Outer Banks and Down East, North Carolina

Coastal Voices is an oral history project documenting the maritime culture and heritage of communities on the North Carolina coast. I assisted with the transcription efforts, transcribing three interviews for the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center's digitization project.