News About The American Studies Program at LVC

Kelly Britt Adds New Face to the American Studies Program

Kelly Britt grew up in a small town in Massachusetts named Uxbridge where she was always interested in writing and the performing arts. She began her college career, which is still on-going to this day, at the Dean Junior College of Massachusetts. After studying there until 1990, she then transferred to Emerson College in Boston where she received her Bachelor's degree for her work with Writing/Performing Arts in 1992.

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To put her first degree to work, Britt began working at the Boston Ballet School, but after just one year there, she decided to go back to school for her newfound love of anthropology. With her writing concentration at Emerson, she became interested in Medieval literature, but not just the literature of it, more so the anthropology aspects. While continuing to work at the ballet school to pay her way through another college degree, Britt attended the University of Massachusetts at Boston for four years until she graduated in 1998 with a B.S. in Anthropology. This was not the end of the educational road for her, though.

The information she had been studying still interested her, so she decided to go for her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. The goal for Britt is to be completed with her dissertation by next spring, giving her the coveted title of "Doctor."

In the past couple of years, while attending Columbia, Britt had been searching for a dissertation project that would provide her with a place that could answer her questions. When Britt's friend from school brought her to Lancaster in 2002, she was first introduced to the Thaddeus Stevens location and saw it as a perfect spot to do her research. "I love interpreting history and dealing with museums. Also, anything that uses or deals with heritage I find so interesting," said Britt. A big part of her work included archeological expeditions where artifacts would be analyzed. For her main research, she is currently focusing on how everything they find will be interpreted. Britt is primarily interested in seeing how the Thaddeus Stevens Museum will identify with the city of Lancaster, since it is a city that has so many different identities instead of a common one.

One way that Britt is conveying her research outside the realm of the one site is by taking her historic preservation to public outreaches through children workshops in 4th grade classrooms throughout the city of Lancaster. She thought these workshops would be a great way to see what the children had to say and also to give herself a chance to get inside a classroom, which is what she wants to do full-time when she is done with her Ph.D.

Lebanon Valley College is also giving Britt some good experience in the classroom because she is doing interesting research and has the ability to teach introduction classes as well as other American Studies classes. The ideal situation for Britt would be to stay here at LVC because she loves the "small, liberal arts environment" and feels her "teaching skills can be used best here." It also is in a convenient location because she has recently moved to Lancaster to be with her husband.

When Britt is not in the classroom or doing research for the Thaddeus Stevens site, she enjoys traveling, watching movies, listening to alternative and punk rock music, and anything else that has to do with pop culture. She also claims to have an uncanny ability to name any classic rock song on the first couple of notes, so her talents go much further than what students generally see in the classroom. Her travels have brought her to such exotic locations as Prague, England, France, India, Sri Lanka, and several Caribbean islands. Some of her favorite places in the U.S. where she has done archeological digs have been Boston, New Mexico, and New York where she discovered dead bodies in a city cemetery called an Alms House.

(This story was written by Craig Brown and first published in La Vie Collegienne)