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Meet a Member: Sarah Sutton

by Hannah Hethmon, AASLH on

Meet a Member is a biweekly blog series spotlighting our members. AASLH has 5,500 fascinating members working hard for the field of history, and we want to show them off. Each month we feature one individual and one organization. 

Sarah Sutton:

Member of AASLH Since 1991

Alma maters:

I was one of the first two American Studies graduates from Sweet Briar College (VA). After a year earning $4 an hour giving historic house tours in Colorado, I was lucky to be selected for the History Administration program at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. It was offered jointly with the Masters of History program at College of William & Mary.

 

Sarah SuttonFields of interest:

I am an historian and history fan by nature, and a devotee of all things museums (zoos, aquariums, parks, gardens, sites, etc.).  I’ve been around long enough that my fields of interest within the field have evolved from volunteers, to grants, to environmental sustainability.

 

What is your role in the field of history?

I am an independent professional with two specialties: writing grant proposals and helping museums pursue environmental sustainability in all areas of their work.

 

How did you become involved in the field of history?

For as long as I can remember I have loved the feeling of places, objects, and stories that are connected to long ago events. A family trip to Washington, DC, and Philadelphia for the Bicentennial sealed the deal. I loved the excited feeling I got standing in George Washington’s dining room looking at blue walls. And I was just as happy at the National Park in Philadelphia looking at the ghosted outline of Benjamin Franklin’s home, and imagining what it must all have looked and felt like then.

 

Why does history matter to you?

I see that history humbles people and inspires them at the same time. It’s the feeling I get myself when I stand in the parlor of a house or I when walk around a fort or I stare out over New Hampshire villages from a mountainside. History makes me feel connected and far away at the same time, and that the people and things and places of the past have a story to share with me if I’ll just take the time to listen. And in that story there will be answers and ideas – that I can either keep or share – that can help people individually and collectively fulfill their potential.

 

How has your AASLH membership been of value to you and your practice of history?

I have been an AASLH member practically forever. I wrote my first professional article for History News: “The First Director Experience.” AASLH has published two of my books with AltaMira Press:

I am happy to be at the point where I can share my experience in return for what others have shared with me. I present at the conference whenever I am able, and I now give AASLH-sponsored webinars on grant-writing and on environmental sustainability:

AASLH Program Coordinator Bethany Hawkin’s webinar presentation coaching has in turn given me a new and valuable skill!

 

What are you working on right now?

I have a small team that works with me on special green projects. We just finished adapting a glove choice chart to include recycling options, and now we are looking at how to layer green practices onto disaster planning, and how to elevate disaster planning to resilience-planning.

 

Closing thoughts?

Oh my gosh…words cannot say enough about the quality of the people in this field. They are generous and friendly, funny and fascinating, and all smart people. We share struggles and help each other pretty well, and we even brag for each other. I am grateful to know and learn from them, and to be in their lives.

These answers were edited for length and clarity. Want to be featured? Email Hannah Hethmon to learn more. Click here to read about more featured members. Click here to learn more about AASLH Individual Memberships.

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