Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Keith Gorman, Assistant Head of Special Collections & University Archives

Keith Gorman has always been interested in how people relay their individual and collective history to others. Growing up in an academic family in Chicago, he was encouraged to pursue his interest in American history, urban architecture, and oral history. Gorman was fascinated by how history was remembered and conveyed within his large extended family and within his diverse urban North Side neighborhood of Rodgers Park.

This interest led Gorman to pursuing a degree in history at Loyola University in Chicago. But, his interest in history carried over into the fields of political science and art history. His decision to spend a year in Rome, Italy sparked a new interest in European history, art, languages, food, and politics. Upon graduating from Loyola, Gorman was accepted into a PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His interest in European history deepened. Gorman decided to focus on 20th century European history. This interest in Europe lead to extended research trips to France and the completion of both a MA and PhD. While living in Paris, Gorman’s research focus broadened to consider how national memory is shaped and contested. It also led to a new research area in Holocaust Studies.

In taking a position at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, Gorman was introduced to a region that prided itself on its local history and its connection to the American Revolution. When not in the classroom, Gorman spent a great deal of time exploring colonial cemeteries and towns and hiking New England’s mountains. While continuing to focus on modern European history, Gorman did begin to develop and teach courses in public history and archives. This interest in how people were accessing historical information lead to Gorman’s decision to pursue a MLS. He decided that his mix of skills could help bring history to a wider audience.

In his drive to make history more accessible, Gorman accepted a position at the Smithsonian Institute Archives in Washington, DC. His position as a reference archivist required him to interact with a global audience. Walking along the Washington Mall to get to work, he witnessed the impact of how museums, archives, and monument shaped how visitors understood their shared past. On weekends, Gorman spent a great deal of time exploring the diverse neighborhoods of the District.

Gorman was pulled back to New England and Cape Cod. He accepted the position of Special Collections Librarian at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. He was asked to increase the use and access of the paper and photo collections of the Museum. Living on Cape Cod and commuting by ferry, Gorman experienced first-hand the continuing impact of the region’s maritime heritage and history. The daily commute on Vineyard Sound sparked an interest in life on the water. After two years of commuting by ferry, Gorman moved to the Island and explored its ancient footpaths, quiet ocean beaches, and wooded ponds. At the same time, his responsibilities at the museum grew. In 2007, he was promoted to the position of executive director of the museum. He was tasked with increasing the Museum’s programming and engagement with the six towns on the Island.

Keith Gorman (and his wife Cheryl Roberts) moved to Carrboro, NC to settle and start a family. His wife Cheryl is pursuing a PhD in sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Both of them are passionate gardeners and are discovering the joys of an eleven month growing cycle! Gorman continues to delve into his interest in local history and culture. Keith and Cheryl spend many weekends hiking trails in the Piedmont or in the western part of the state. Keith is an accomplished cook and is very interested in the local Slow Food movement in NC.

3 comments:

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