Publication Date

September 4, 2018

In her very first year at the University of Mary Washington, new AHA program associate Megan R. Connor declared her major: history. “I’ve always been into it,” Connor told Perspectives. “My family’s from the UK, and anytime we’d visit my dad’s parents, we’d drive right by Stonehenge.”

Megan Connor

Megan R. Connor

Megan R. Connor

At school, Connor found herself drawn to the study of women. “In all my history classes, no matter what the subject matter was, I would try to find an opportunity to write about women, to take a gendered perspective,” she says. For her senior thesis, she built on work she’d done her junior year to write about 17th-century midwifery manuals, inspired by a growing interest in the intersection of women’s work and women’s bodies, as well as by a cousin who was a midwife. Connor analyzed two translated manuals, one from France, the other from German Poland, and was impressed by their sophistication. “Anytime I’d do a presentation on my thesis, people would comment on the accuracy of the images,” she said. “The way they present the anatomy is fascinating, since [the midwives] didn’t have the technology that we do today.”

Quickly amassing enough credits to complete her history major early, Connor realized in her junior year she could declare a second major: women’s studies. She first asked the women’s studies department chair whether this was a good idea. “She said, ‘I’ve been waiting for you to do this,’” Connor remembers. With that, she became Mary Washington’s first history/women’s studies double major.

She was plainly on her way to bigger things, so instead of piling on additional credits, Connor started an internship at the Feminist Majority Foundation in her senior year. Feminism, she says, “was something I picked up in high school. The internet is a wonderful place.” After she graduated, the foundation hired her full time as assistant to the president. Her job included development administration and serving as internship coordinator, and she gained experience with publications administration at Ms. magazine.

Born and raised in Virginia, Connor praises the commonwealth’s “different pockets of diversity,” whether in terms of the people who call it home or its very landscape. “There’s the Tidewater, the beaches, and the coastline,” she says, “then 90 miles west is full-on mountains. . . . You’re not sure you’re in the same state when you’re driving across it.” On the other hand, she says, “The state has a lot to reconcile about the past.” The fatal violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville last year, Connor says, was “hard to process. It was tough. But I was really impressed by the students and the people in the area who went out and showed solidarity [against racism] even though they were completely outnumbered.”

In her new role at the AHA as program associate, Connor looks forward to working on grant management, project management, and other Association initiatives. She’s never been to an AHA annual meeting before but is excitedly anticipating Chicago—even in January.

Allison Miller is editor of Perspectives. She tweets @Cliopticon.

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