Me, with my Museums and Communities

Class with their Spring 2016 exhibit

Welcome! I’m Katie Stringer Clary, and I hope you enjoy looking through my site.

**Please visit my CV Tab for a complete interactive Curriculum Vitae with links and resources.**

A little about me: I graduated in May 2013 with my PhD in Public History (with a concentration on museum Management) from Middle Tennessee State University‘s Public History Program. I immediately started work as the Executive Director of a historic site in Knoxville, Tennessee where I worked with the daily operations, a massive historic preservation project and federal grants, and many other things!  I left that position after 2 years to accept a teaching position at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina.  I currently teach courses in Interdisciplinary Studies, Cultural Heritage, Museum Studies, Interpretive Methods, and other Special Topics in Public History.  I am also a member of the graduate faculty, and I teach the Core Seminar for our Master of Liberal Studies program. My faculty page is available at this link. 

I worked in museums and historic sites throughout Tennessee for about seven years in various capacities. I focus on museum collections, development, interpretation, participatory education, public programming, public history, accessibility and inclusivity, and museum studies. One of my greatest, recent personal accomplishments was the completion and publication of my book, Programming For People With Special Needs: A Guide For Museums and Historic SitesThis book helps museums and historic sites create truly inclusive educational experiences. The book is unique because it covers education and inclusion for those with both intellectual and learning disabilities.

I also love books, goats, and visiting to museums.  I like to hike, camp, and spend time outside.  My guilty pleasures include TLC “educational” programming, tea and coffee, and all things chocolate (especially the real, British, Cadbury and Mars chocolates).

Please feel free to contact me any time with questions or comments,  at mkatestringer@gmail.com

More about me….  

With Dad at American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, TN, 1989

As most historians will say, I can’t recall ever not being interested in history.  Some of my first exposures to the subject came from my family, my grandfathers in particular.  Both had exciting stories from their pasts: growing up during the Great Depression, storming the beaches on D-Day, and even wearing “knickers” instead of pants.  Additionally, my parents took me to museums, historic sites, and various cultural organizations as a child.  Weekend trips to the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee were part of a monthly routine, it seems.  One of the most definitive experiences took place when I was in the fourth grade at Kingston Elementary School.  I was in the Talented and Gifted program, and one series of educational activities we did centered completely on Ancient Egypt and Mummies.  We watched a documentary in which Bob Briar created a modern mummy using historical techniques, made our own paper and paste mummies, and learned basic hieroglyphs.   I was hooked!  My mom even claims that I wanted to mummify the family housecat; in my defense, she was an ill-tempered beast.

MTSU Graduation, 2008

As I made my way through high school my best friend and I made regular trips to Knoxville to visit the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee and various other places.  I knew that when I got to college I wanted to do something with history; I just wasn’t sure what.  As an undergraduate at Middle Tennessee State University I was lucky enough to enroll in Dr. Charles Myer Phillips’ United States History I course.  Not only did Dr. Phillips remind me of my grandfather, but he also made the subject interesting, even to a person who prefers ancient and classical histories.  My World Civilization II professor, Dr. Robin Hermann helped me to finalize my decision to be a History major.  His class was fun, entertaining, and highly educational.

Sam Davis Home Ghost Tours, 2007

I always knew that I did not want to teach in a traditional classroom.  I felt as many undergraduates probably feel: I wasn’t sure what other career opportunities were out there for historians other than teaching.  I sent emails and made phone calls to several historical organizations and sites throughout the Middle Tennessee area, and Anita Teague at the Sam Davis Home in Smyrna decided to call me back in for an interview in the summer of 2007.  I was hired as a tour guide and docent for the SDH, and I was able to sign up for undergraduate public history internships and senior seminars with Dr. Brenden Martin.  The year I spent working with the SDH and public history helped guide me towards where I am today.  I worked with the public daily, created lesson plans for students on field trips, and I had a fabulous working relationship learning all about the ins and outs of museums.  As graduation loomed closer, I knew I had to continue my education to get a job, whether I wanted to teach or not.

Exhibit production at U of M

I chose the University of Memphis for my Master’s program, largely because of their fantastic Egyptology and ancient history faculty and program.  Under the directions of Dr. Peter Brand and Dr. Suzanne Onstine I built upon my historical foundation with more coursework on ancient Greece, Rome, and all aspects of Egyptology.  I was even more thrilled upon my arrival in Memphis to learn that the university also offered a graduate interdisciplinary certificate in museum studies.  My first semester I took an introduction to museum studies with Dr. Robert Connolly, and finally I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my career: I wanted to work in a museum.

Pink Palace Education Department Office

When I moved to Memphis I immediately looked for a part time job to supplement my meager graduate assistantship funding.  I was hired at the Pink Palace Museum as a Social Studies instructor.  As an employee of the education department I developed and presented educational programming about Native Americans and the Tennessee Frontier, among other things, to groups of 10-100 students.  Luckily, I was able to translate my work at the Pink Palace into an internship to gain credit hours towards my interdisciplinary certificate.  I also spent a minimal amount of time as a volunteer at the National Civil Rights Museum working in collections and with the registrar.

Working at Chucalissa makes you THIS excited!

Perhaps one of the most fortunate events of my time as a master’s degree candidate was being hired as a graduate assistant at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa.  Dr. Connolly who taught in the museums program is the director of the site, and as a rule his graduate assistants work in every aspect of museum life.  My last semester at the University of Memphis and during the summer before I moved away from west Tennessee I was hired by Jacob Shock as an educational consultant at the Biblical History Museum in Collierville, Tennessee.  I created educational programming for the museum and also directed an archaeological day-camp during the summer for students to learn the basics and methods of archaeology.

UofM Master of Arts Degree Graduation

The museums certificate at the University of Memphis and all of the work I was able to do during my two years in Memphis provided me with excellent hands-on experience in museums.  My resume was bolstered with several museums, various types of experience from collections to programming, and I made several incredible networking contacts.  Still, I knew that I would need to continue on to someday get the dream career.   During my last semester at the University of Memphis I began to look back to my undergraduate alma mater; there I began my foray into public history so there I decided to continue.

The Drs Katie and Katie on Graduation Day

The Drs Katie and Katie on Graduation Day

I was admitted to the MTSU Public History program as a doctoral student for the Fall 2010 semester.  The program does have a concentration in museums management, but the larger topic of public history was a benefit to me as someone who wants to branch out into any and all aspects of generating interest in history with the public.  I knew from previous experience that the program would be a wonderful fit for me, and I moved back to Murfreesboro hopeful about furthering my academic and professional careers in a familiar town and university.

… that is the back-story of how I got to where I am today!  Explore this site to find out the rest of the story….

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