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Michelmore Chairs Historians on the Hill Advisory Council

Molly Michelmore, associate professor of history at Washington and Lee University, wants historians and policy makers to have a productive working relationship. To that end, she chairs the Historians on the Hill Advisory Council, part of the National History Center, and she recently explained her role to “AHA Today,” a blog of the American Historical Association.

Molly kicked off her involvement with legislative matters during an internship on Capitol Hill while she was attending Amherst College. In between graduating with a B.A. in history and going on to graduate school, she moved to Washington, D.C., and worked for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D-Wisc.).

“One of the greatest aspects about working on the Hill right out of college was that most of the work was done, and is done, by people under the age of 25,” she told “AHA Today.” “Being a young person on the Hill provided a lot of opportunities to learn about how Congress works and legislative processes. And knowing how Congress works and knowing how to do legislative research is important to my work as a historian because I focus on the legislative history of American welfare policies.”

The main goal of Historians on the Hill, she told the blog, “is to cultivate relationships between historians, policy makers, and their staff. Members of Congress can benefit from historians’ expertise on important policy issues and historians can get their work into the public sphere, especially if there is a legislative component. This can be a mutually beneficial relationship, connecting the world of policy to the world of academia. Members of Congress and their staff gain a better understanding of the history of legislative issues and historians learn how to tailor their research towards new nonacademic audiences.”

Molly obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 2006, and began her post at W&L the same year. In 2012, she published her first book, “Tax and Spend: The Welfare State, Tax Politics and the Limits of American Liberalism.” Forthcoming is a volume she’s co-edited with Mark A. Stoler, “Major Problems in the History of World War II.”

Read Molly’s complete interview >

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