People

  • Portrait (head shot photo)
  • Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan
  • Assistant Teaching Professor & Coordinator of Public History
  • Degree: Ph.D., History, University of Leicester
  • Specialty: Nineteenth-Century US: Social History; Public History
  • Email: kristin.obrassillkulfan@rutgers.edu
  • Office: 213C Van Dyck Hall
  • Phone: 848-932-8226

 Co-Director of the RCHA Seminar, "Repairing the Past," with Prof. Jochen Hellbeck, 2022-24

 

 Public History Program

RESEARCH INTERESTS

Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan is a public historian and scholar of early American social history. She coordinates the History Department's Public History Program, including the Certificate in Public History and Public History Internship, and is also an Associate Graduate Faculty Member in the Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies Program. She holds a PhD in History from the University of Leicester and an MA in Modern History from Queens University Belfast, and researches poverty, labor, mobility, crime and punishment in the early American northeast, as well as public historical and commemorative representations of these subjects. O'Brassill-Kulfan is the author of Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic (New York University Press, 2019). She has previously worked as an archivist and research analyst for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives, and with museums, archives, and libraries in the US and the UK curating exhibits, managing archival collections, and creating inclusive public programming. She regularly consults on public history projects in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS

  • Vagrants and Vagabonds: Poverty and Mobility in the Early American Republic (New York University Press, 2019)
  • “‘People first’: Commemorating Houselessness and Poverty,” The Public Historian vol. 45, no. 2 (Spring 2023).
  • “Labor Sweated Here: Commemorating Workers and Their Activism in Paterson, New Jersey,” Where are the Workers?: Labor's Stories at Museums and Historic Sites, eds Robert Forrant and Mary Anne Trasciatti (University of Illinois Press, 2022).
  • “’Severe punishment for their misfortunes and poverty’: Philadelphia’s Arch Street Jail, 1804-1837,” Special Issue: Incarceration in Pennsylvania History, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 143, no. 3 (October 2019).
  • Public Histories of Poverty,” History@Work, The NCPH Blog, February 4, 2019. 
  • "The United States’ long history of criminalizing homelessness," From The Square: NYU Press Blog, January 14, 2019.
  • “’Vagrant Negroes:’ The Policing of Labor and Mobility in the Old South,” in Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power, eds Keri Leigh Merritt and Matthew Hild (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida), 2018
  • "Campus history as public history: Interpreting slavery through historical walking tours,"  History@Work, The NCPH Blog, June 20, 2018
  • “The Antebellum Era (1820-1860)," and "The Colored Female Free Produce Society," in Women in American History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio), 2017
  • “Vagabonds and Paupers: Race and Illicit Mobility in the Early Republic,” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 83, no. 4 (Autumn 2016): 443-469
  • Vagrancy,” The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH), Rutgers University-Camden, 2016

SELECTED PUBLIC HISTORY ENGAGEMENT

  • Lead Scholar, Community History Program, New Jersey Council for the Humanities 
  • Member, New Jersey Historical Commission’s Advisory Council on New Jersey's United States Semiquincentennial Initiative, Revolution NJ 
  • Contributing Member/University Partner, Humanities Action Lab
  • Co-PI for “Shelter”, Luce Foundation Grant-funded Public Humanities Project during the Covid-19 Pandemic (2020-2021)
  • Co-organizer (with Donna Gustafson), New Jersey Stories: New Perspectives on American Paintings in the Zimmerli Art Museum Public History Project
  • Curator & supervisor of student curators, “Climate Justice is Worker Justice in New Brunswick, NJ,” in Humanities Action Lab traveling exhibit, Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice
  • Consultant, organizer, & supervisor of student docents, Historical Walking Tours, Scarlet & Black Project, Rutgers University
  • Co-organizer and Planning Committee Member, Telling Untold Histories Unconference
  • Research Analyst and Archivist, Pennsylvania House of Representatives Archives 
  • Exhibitions Research Consultant, Department of Human History, National Museums of Northern Ireland
  • Public Programs Coordinator, Ephrata Public Library
  • Project Archivist, Center for Pennsylvania German Studies, Millersville University of Pennsylvania
  • Project Archivist, Historical Society of the Cocalico Valley
  • Project Archivist, Pennsylvania Folklife Society Collection, Ursinus College

RECENT COURSES TAUGHT

  • Public History: Theory, Method, and Practice
  • Public History Internship
  • New Jersey History
  • Revising Rutgers: Architecture, History, & Preservation on Campus (co-taught with Prof. Carla Yanni, Art History)
  • History of Homelessness: Unhoused Populations in US History

AWARDS & FELLOWSHIPS

  • “The Way Forward” Multi-Institutional Innovation Grant co-awardee, Bringing Theory to Practice, Elon University, 2021
  • Award of Recognition for Significant Contributions to State History, New Jersey Historical Commission, 2020
  • Larry J. Hackman Research Award, New York State Archives, 2020-2021
  • Faculty Fellow, Center for Cultural Analysis, Rutgers University, 2019-2020
  • Humanities Innovation Block Grant, School of Graduate Studies, Rutgers University, 2018-2019
  • Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Fellowship, Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2017-2018
  • Digital Humanities Initiative Seed Grant, Rutgers University, 2017-2018
  • Prindle Institute Fellow, Prindle Institute for Ethics Seminar on Ethics and Epistemology in the Archives, Depauw University, 2016
  • Lord Baltimore Fellowship, Maryland Historical Society, 2015-2016
  • College of Arts, Humanities, and Law Research Grant, University of Leicester, 2015
  • Peter Parish Memorial Award, Association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians, 2014

OTHER PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

  • Editor, Global Perspectives on Public History Series, Routledge
  • Member, Editorial Board, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies
  • Member, Editorial Board, New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
  • Member, Editorial Board, Pennsylvania Historical Association History Series, Temple University Press
  • Affiliate Editor, History@Work, National Council on Public History