I have taught American and world history courses at JCC since 2004. Local history is a passion of mine, along with women's history and the broader history of social reform movements in the 19th century. In the first half of the 1800s, Western New York was the "West," and its residents included some of the foremost reformers of their day. The ideas of abolitionists and early women's rights activists resonated in the churches and "opera houses" of Western New York. A few admirable local residents even risked arrest to provide food and shelter to escaped slaves traveling on the Underground Railroad. One of them was Catherine Harris, a free black woman who lived in a small home (no longer standing) on West Seventh Street in Jamestown. My most current research has focused on the important contributions of Chautauqua County women to the later women's suffrage movement. In this research, I have learned about Edith Ainge of Jamestown, who was imprisoned five times in the 1910s for participating in peaceful demonstrations in Washington, D.C. Miss Ainge had a simple request: that women be allowed to vote. But her convictions were considered radical to many in her time period.
What I most love about history is how it inspires me--or rather, how people like Catherine Harris and Edith Ainge inspire me, as they dared to think bigger than their times often allowed. I also love to go to the places where they were. Something special happens when we stand in a place where history was made, and think about what it was like back then. Somehow, it doesn't seem so long ago in those instances. The more I have explored, the more I have realized that history is made everywhere--all around us. Every small town has a story to tell, as does every house, every photograph, and every artifact.
When I am not teaching, I volunteer for and serve on the boards of the Fenton History Center in Jamestown, and the Sheridan, NY Historical Society (my hometown), for which I also edit a biannual publication. I recently was invited to join the Jamestown Historical Marker committee. I also enjoy playing viola in the Jamestown String Quartet and the Jamestown Area Community Orchestra. In the summer, you can often find me playing my viola at weddings, or traveling to attend various seminars. Since I started teaching, I have been very fortunate to receive funding to attend multiple history workshops of the National Endowment for the Humanities at various locations around the country, including Mars Hill, NC; Cleveland, OH; Mammoth Cave, KY; Concord, MA; and Plymouth, MA. I also frequently serve as a reader for the Advanced Placement World History Exam.