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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

Advisor: Tom Brown


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

Bio: I research public history, twentieth century culture, and memory in the U.S. My dissertation 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 2020 Smith Richardson Award and the Department of History Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistantship from the University of South Carolina. I am currently serving as the President of the Graduate History Association. Previously, I have presented work at the African Americans in Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia conference and continue to gravitate towards Appalachian cultural history and social justice initiatives.

 I am also an active public historian with a focus on education and outreach. I work 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 my work as public historian, I am proudest of my work as a high school educator with the Peace Corps Kyrgyz Republic. “

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.