Finding the Future in the Past with Mary Grace Newman
2018 Kinder Scholars Profile
For the second official installment of the “Notes from the Capital” update series, we have a brief feature on Mary Grace Newman’s time as an Education and Public Programs intern with the National Archives, complete with news of her chance encounter with the nation’s first president. Click here for the series’ first installment, now updated to include a handful of post-initial publication responses.
Finding the Future in the Past
“I would hold up a ‘Huzzah’ sign to let the crowd know when to cheer.”
There are only a handful of scenarios to which the above sentence might apply, but on the morning of July 4, 2018, rising MU junior and Jefferson City native Mary Grace Newman found herself in the middle of one. While most of us were busying ourselves with BBQ prep, Newman was assisting with the National Archives’ annual Fourth of July celebration, a day of festivities that includes, among other things, well-timed ‘huzzahs’ for a live reading of the Declaration of Independence by the likes of John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, and Abigail Adams.
Newman is interning with the Archives’ Education and Public Programs office through the Kinder Scholars summer program, and as she described in a note back to the Institute about her first month in the capital, the work is about much more than gaining college credit or rubbing elbows with a costumed George Washington. For her, it’s about a passion for helping people better understand the abiding relevance of the nation’s political history and the importance of studying its nuances.
“I applied to the National Archives because I wanted to consistently engage my interests in education, history, and politics this summer,” Newman wrote in her mid-July update email to the Kinder Institute. “At my internship, I have been able to interact with the public, create activities for children and adults, and research, and I am excited to find other opportunities in the future where I can incorporate what I have learned at the Archives with my commitment to promoting civic literacy.”
In addition to bringing the past to life for Archives visitors, Newman has also had the chance to draw some cross-era connections of her own through the program’s “Beltway History & Politics” course. She described, for example, how a recent class-related field trip to the Maryland State House in Annapolis took her back to her Fall 2017 “Constitutional Debates” course with MU Professor of Political Science and Kinder Institute Advisory Board Member Jay Dow.
“I remembered discussing the significance of Annapolis in the course,” she noted, “and how a convention there prompted the Constitutional Convention of 1787. I was elated just to walk inside the State House, because it reminded me why learning the past is essential to understanding the political discourse of today.”
Does the future hold more of the same for Newman? Quite possibly. While leading a group from Jefferson City on a recent tour of the Archives, she realized not only how much she would enjoy working at a museum post-college but also that D.C. might make for a wonderful second home. And by her standards, she’s at least part of the way to becoming a Washingtonian.
“I don’t necessarily consider myself a true D.C. resident yet, but I have had people ask me for directions.”