Skip to main content

UA Little Rock Graduate Named Public History Graduate Student of the Year

Emily Housdan
Emily Housdan

The Arkansas Museums Association has honored Emily Housdan, a recent graduate of UA Little Rock, as the 2023 Public History Graduate Student of the Year.

“I am very excited about this award,” Housdan said. “It was a huge honor even to be considered. I think the Arkansas Museums Association is a great organization, and I am happy to be nominated by the Public History Program at UA Little Rock.”

The award is granted to a graduate student in the area of museum, public history, archival management, or a related field who has shown academic excellence with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and has a minimum of 12 hours completed in the program. The successful nominee demonstrates initiative and leadership skills, has shown a willingness to collaborate with faculty, staff, and other graduate students, and is committed to working in the museum, public history, archival management, or related field.

A native of Greers Ferry, Housdan graduated this May with a master’s degree in public history from UA Little Rock and now works as a programming and administrative assistant at UA Little Rock Downtown. Her hometown is also the subject of her thesis, where she studied the social, economic, and geographic effects of the creation of the Greers Ferry Dam and Lake, which was dedicated in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy.

“Some of the positive effects are that it stimulated the economy and attracted a lot of people to the area. It brought recreation and, of course, electricity from the dam,” Housdan said. “Some of the richest farming land was where the lake now stands, so it took away agricultural resources. There was limited space to find land and homes nearby, so many businesses and families were forced to relocate.”

As a graduate assistant with the Center for Arkansas History and Culture (CAHC), Housdan created metadata for CAHC collections as well as partner institutions of CAHC for the National Endowment for the Humanities grant-funded digital project, “Mapping Urban Fracture (MURF): Charting the Context and Consequences of the Little Rock Central High Crisis.” She was also tasked with creating, designing, and managing the MURF project website, which includes curated content by local scholars and a blog with posts written by project contributors.

In addition to the CAHC, Housdan has also worked as a processing archivist for Gary L. Smith, a former Justice of the Peace in North Little Rock, a digital services lab intern for the Arkansas State Archives, an archival processing intern for Southeast Arkansas Regional Archives, an intern for the Hot Spring County Museum, and an archive volunteer for Ouachita Baptist University Archives.

Dr. Jess Porter, CAHC executive director, nominated Housdan for the award after seeing what a promising archivist she is.

“She is passionate about preserving archival/historical materials and promoting public access to these materials,” Porter said. “She’s talked with me directly about ways to encourage public engagement with public history institutions to strengthen both communities and education. She’s everything a professor, director, and colleague could hope for in a graduate student.”