AHA Member Spotlight: Tula Connell
Tula Connell is a senior communications officer. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and has been a member since 2013.
Alma maters: BA (journalism), Marquette University; MA (European history), Yale University; PhD (American history), Georgetown University, 2011
Fields of interest: US and global labor, US conservatism, media, gender-based violence, gender
Describe your career path. What led you to where you are today?
I began my career as a journalist and shifted to labor communications (SEIU, AFL-CIO, Solidarity Center) during which time I completed my doctorate in US history. Working full time in labor communications, I never intended to move to academia. But I do want to research and write. Yet after I completed my doctorate in 2011, I quickly found that as an “independent scholar,” I have limited or no access to university libraries and online databases; no access to IRB; no funding for conference or research travel; and little academic support network. In general, tenured faculty have demonstrated striking resistance to the concerns of independent historians and contingent faculty, many of whom struggle with the same lack of resource access. As an immediate past board member of the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) and as a (former) Executive Board member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, I have endeavored to shift the normative discourse that privileges tenured academics at R1 universities and sought to expand resource access for independent scholars.
What do you like the most about where you live and work?
Washington, DC, includes the Library of Congress—what better resource for a historian of the United States? In addition, there are many top-quality university libraries in the area and the city is a train ride away from many important libraries and archives. The city is rich in art and history museums, most notably the many Smithsonian institutions, but also numerous private museums and galleries and historic homes and buildings. The arts scene—theater, jazz and a range of music and performance arts—is top notch and parks and woods are nearby. The city is ever-evolving so although I have lived here many years, I am constantly encountering new experiences and meeting new people, who typically have fascinating careers, backgrounds, talents, and interests.
What projects are you currently working on?
The role of women in asserting their rights as citizens and workers in postwar and postrevolutionary contexts.
Have your interests evolved since graduation? If so, how?
My focus has expanded from a US to global perspective, broadening topically to concentrate on women in postwar and postrevolutionary contexts and gender-based violence at work.
What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever found at the archives or while doing research?
Information that counters commonly received beliefs.
What do you value most about the history discipline?
The discipline hones analytical abilities, sharpens communication skills, and broadens competence in research—all key assets that translate to any field.
Why is membership in the AHA important to you?
Membership in AHA is a key way for me, as an independent scholar, to keep up with current research and to network with my peers.
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, Perspectives Daily features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.
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