Publication Date

May 26, 2016

Perspectives Section

Member Spotlight, Perspectives Daily

AHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

Dr. Electa (Beth) Anderson is a high school history teacher at El Toro High School (Lake Forest, California). She lives in Oceanside, California, and has been a member since 2003.

Anderson_photoAlma maters: BA, California, San Diego, 1992; PhD, California, Irvine, 2012

Fields of interest: gender, women’s history, print culture, history education

When did you first develop an interest in history?
History was always my favorite subject in school, but it was not until I got to college that I knew I wanted to do history for a living. The obvious choice was to teach history, so I got my credential, but then I took a summer course, designed for teachers, on Japan, and I realized I wanted to go back to school. I applied to the graduate program at UC Irvine, and was hooked as of my first seminars. It was challenging working and going to grad school, but completely worth it.

What projects are you currently working on?
I wish I were working on a project! But keeping up with high school teaching is a more-than-full-time job.

Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
Not really. I realized about half way through grad school that my heart was in teaching high school, so I stayed there. I also worked with the UCI History Project (which does outreach and professional development for local school districts) the second half of my grad school career.

Is there an article, book, movie, blog etc. that you could recommend to fellow AHA members?
I love Melissa McEwan’s Shakesville blog. She’s taught me so much and made me think much more critically about so many issues.

What do you value most about the history profession?
That it makes people think! And that historians constantly provide the nuance and complexity that are necessary in approaching all the messy issues that this country is facing.

Why have you continued to be a member of the AHA?
I really like feeling connected to what is happening in the history world, and I think it is really important that secondary school teachers keep up with the field.

Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote you would like to share?
No, unfortunately. I wish I could attend more meetings, but school is always in session in early January.

Other than history, what are you passionate about?
Hiking, camping, and backpacking. If I ever win the lottery, I will be moving to a cozy cabin in the Eastern Sierra to spend the rest of my life hiking, snowshoeing, and reading all the history books I have not had time for.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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