When Anna Kuntz began her studies at Augustana, she thought she’d take a year or two to figure out what she wanted to specialize in, then transfer to U of A’s main campus in Edmonton. “That never happened,” she recalls, “because in my first year, I fell in love with Augustana.”
For Anna, taking first-year history courses with Dr. Palo and Dr. Mirejovsky set the course for her career. “I realized then that history was the field for me,” she remembers.
Anna served as an executive member of the History Club and was a student representative at faculty meetings. “These experiences taught me about managing groups, organizing events, working with a budget, and focussing on a mandate, all of which help me in my career today.” Anna also worked for Augustana’s Alumni Office. She says, “I enjoyed learning about the history of the campus and its founders, taking part in keeping that spirit alive.”
As graduation approached, Anna wondered what step to take next. Dr. James Opp, a history professor at Carleton University, happened to be at Augustana receiving an alumni award. Trina Harrison, in the Alumni Office, knew that Anna and James shared a love of history, so she arranged for them to have coffee.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” Anna remembers. “He told me about a field called public history, which focuses on the ways history is created and presented to the public—for example, through films, books, museums, or the Internet.” After that meeting, Anna moved to Ottawa to begin a masters program in public history at Carleton. Dr. Opp was one of her supervisors.
Through connections she made at Carleton during her graduate program, Anna learned about a position at Know History, a private historical research company in Ottawa, where she has now worked for two years. Anna’s day-to-day work includes searching for historical images, viewing census records, updating family trees, conducting archival research, and managing the transcription of oral history recordings. She is developing a range of skills, from archival research to project management to graphic design.
“The most challenging part of the job is time management because it is easy to get engrossed in the history of the project I’m working on, and I keep wanting to dig deeper,” Anna says. “Doing historical research is like solving a puzzle, finding pieces, and fitting them together to provide as complete of a picture as possible.”
“I love that I get to learn about Canadian history every day,” Anna reflects. “The best part is knowing I’ve contributed to a final product that the clients are thrilled with.”
As for future career plans, Anna intends to remain the field of public history. “As long as I’m working in history, I’ll be happy,” she says. Anna has found her niche, with a little help from the strong network of faculty, staff, and alumni at Augustana.