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Department of History


Rebekah Turnmire

Title: Graduate Student
PhD, Public History (U.S. History 1789 to present)
Department: History
College of Arts and Sciences
Photo of Rebekah

Advisor: Tom Brown

Pronouns: She/Her

Educational background: BA in History, The College of William and Mary; MA in American Studies, The George Washington University

Bio: Rebekah hails from the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. Her dissertation, "A Memorial Playhouse in the Nation's Capital: Trauma and Public History at Ford's Theatre," examines the development of Ford's Theatre into a memorial playhouse-museum that pioneered a therapeutic approach to public history that melded living history with theater during the mid-twentieth century. The larger project seeks to uncover how the site's novel interpretation of presidential assassination was a result of the confluence of Cold War policy, urban revitalization, theater, and public history in Washington, D.C. The work is supported by the Atkinson/Wyatt Dissertation Fellowship, Smith Richardson Award and the Department of History Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistantship from the University of South Carolina. Rebekah has presented work at the National Council for Public History annual conference, Association for State and Local History annual conference, American Studies Association conference, and African Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia conference.

 She is also an active public historian with a focus on education, programming, and outreach. She currently works as a graduate assistant with the Center for Civil Rights History and Research on a variety of projects related to education and programming. She has also worked with local institutions like Historic Columbia and the Olympia Mill Village Museum on their education and outreach work, among other public history initiatives that focus on K-12 Social Studies engagement. Beyond her work as public historian, she remains dedicated and interested in Appalachian cultural history, a just transition for the Southern Appalachias, and social justice initiatives.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.