Rebecca McCarron

M.St., History, Oxford University, 2018
M.S., Arts Administration and Museum Leadership, Drexel University, 2020
Philadelphia History Museum Project, Philadelphia, PA

Rebecca currently works as a Collections Assistant for the Atwater Kent/Philadelphia History Museum project. The museum’s collection is in the midst of major changes as local university partners have stepped up to see the collection digitized and made available to the public in new ways.  Her team recently completed a collection wide inventory and rehousing project.  “For anyone not in the museum, archives, or libraries field, this process involves moving through the collection object by object to ensure each is documented, housed appropriately, and accounted for in our database.  A typical day for me can mean anything from examining and photographing the contents of a twentieth century pharmacy to carefully cleaning the marble bust of a founding father.”

After graduating from Catholic University in 2017, Rebecca went to the United Kingdom to study at Oxford University, where she completed an M.St. in History in 2018.  “My dissertation focused on the iconography surrounding the U.S. women’s suffrage movement.  I took about a year to rethink my career path and work on publishing my dissertation.  During that time, I shifted my focus from academia to museums, archives, and libraries.  I began a program with Drexel University studying museum management and leadership, which I completed in 2020.  I also published my article entitled ‘The Politicization of Girlhood: From the Gibson Girl to the National Woman’s Party’ with the Women’s History Review that same year.

“As part of my M.S. degree with Drexel I worked with several local museums.  I received a job offer for my current position before graduating and joined as a full-time staff member in 2021.  Looking back my path to my current position has had its fair share of monkey wrenches which I have weathered in large part because Catholic University’s Department of History taught each of its students to be flexible and creative in our approach to studying history and leveraging our degree’s unique skillset.  In particular, the department emphasized rigorous research and took the time to introduce students to the venerable public research facilities throughout the city. During my time as a student, I had several tours of places like the Library of Congress and the National Archives where professors (including and especially my senior thesis advisor Dr. West) connected us to archivists and librarians who in turn shared their knowledge and research abilities with us lucky undergraduates.

“I work in a field that relates very closely to my study in the department. I research and catalogue objects from the museum’s collection which is not too different from the archival research I performed as a student.”

Rebecca’s advice to current students: “One of the truly wonderful aspects of the History Department is the faculty and their willingness to be flexible with students, whether it be courses or research projects. I wish I had taken advantage of that more as a student.  So, my advice to current students is if there is a course, research project, or study abroad experience you would love to take part in, but is not presently available, reach out and ask.”