UALR history alum and incoming public history graduate student, Kimberly Wessels of Little Rock, was in the right place at the right time when the national media began researching the background of Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan.
A reporter from the FOX News Channel was looking for a student they could hire to research files at the Clinton Presidential Library about the nominee’s work in the Clinton administration. They wanted the research that afternoon for a story to be broadcast the next day.
UALR Professor Moira Maguire, associate professor of history, knew just the person to get the job done – Wessels, a 2009 UALR history graduate.
“The reporter asked me to go to the Library to look at documents released as part of the Freedom of Information request for the Clinton administration’s domestic policy, particularly the Native American legislation,” said Wessels, who will be returning to UALR in the fall to begin a master’s degree in public history. “FOX was interested in documents that Kagan had worked on that had not been accessible on the Library’s website at that time.”
Wessels took time off from her regular job to do the research, learning as she worked about the operations of a presidential library.
“It’s very structured. The entire process is tailored to ensure the preservation of the materials…and that makes the researcher’s job much easier,” she said.
The news story, “Kagan Sought to Shield Supreme Court, Police from Racial Arguments in Clinton Era,” appeared on the FOX News national broadcast and appeared on its website on May 14.
It focused on Kagan’s roles as an associate White House counsel and deputy director of the Domestic Policy Council for the Clinton administration. As a policy advisor, Kagan worked on issues such as immigration reform, health care, and tobacco regulation.
Wessels was credited for her research at the end of the article.
“This was a valuable experience for me as a historian,” said Wessels. “As a soon-to-be public history major, I will be more involved in the preservation of history. However, working with FOX News gave me an opportunity to work as the researcher. I got to experience both sides of the research process.”
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