August 3, 2020

Digital Native

Caitlin Murphy ’12 knew she was prepared for a job that combined her history and digital studies degrees and thought a position at PBS would be the perfect fit.

Not long after she submitted her application, Murphy got a call from the internationally renowned public broadcasting network.

Caitlin Murphy ’12 works at PBS in Washington, D.C.

Caitlin Murphy ’12 works at PBS in Washington, D.C.

They had reviewed her resume and delved into her online portfolio, which she developed while a student at the University of Mary Washington, and it wasn’t long before she had the job.

“When I applied for the position, they said my online portfolio was one of the main reasons they had contacted me,” Murphy said. “It really helped me get a foot in the door. I don’t think I would have gotten called if I hadn’t had the portfolio I did.”

Murphy is a program associate at the PBS headquarters just outside Washington, D.C. She screens upcoming programs, like “Masterpiece Theatre” or “Foyle’s War,” to make sure they meet PBS’ standards.

The position requires an eye for detail and the ability to research, skills Murphy said she honed while a student at UMW.

“Caitlin took full advantage of the liberal arts experience at UMW,” said Jeff McClurken, chair and professor of history and American studies. “Not only was she a history major who wrote a thesis that earned her departmental honors, but she also crafted a second major in digital studies, anticipating our development of the formal digital studies minor by nearly two years.”

Her digital studies major combined her passion for history with her love of technology in a multi-disciplinary way, combining classes in English, art, history, computer science with ds106, UMW’s open online digital storytelling course.

Murphy’s online portfolio, which she developed as an undergraduate, includes work from her classes and her internships.

Murphy’s online portfolio, which she developed as an undergraduate, includes work from her classes and her internships.

Murphy’s portfolio, which she shared during her job interview with PBS, included work from her classes and internships, as well as her work on the James Farmer Lectures project.

“She co-produced a site making the words, sounds and images of Civil Rights leader James Farmer available to anyone,” McClurken said. “She then took an assignment in my class to create a digital portfolio and ran with it, producing an amazing site featuring her projects in several classes in multiple departments.  It’s no surprise to me that PBS hired her based on her work.”

Now, all incoming students have the opportunity to create an online presence like Murphy, through the Domain of One’s Own initiative, launched in August 2013. The pioneering project provides free, personal domain names and web hosting to help students take responsibility for their online identities, as well as explore the implications of what it might mean for them to take control of their work and manage their own portfolios.

“Mary Washington does a really great job of providing opportunities for students,” said Murphy. “A lot of departments are working really hard to integrate digital media into day to day classes and projects. The integration of creating a website, blog or video project to create content that is still valid and historical really provided something a traditional class didn’t.”

Digital Native

While at UMW, Caitlin Murphy '12 combined her passion for history with her love for technology.

Bringing History to Life

Students learn firsthand about the life of James Monroe through an innovative history class.

History Lessons

Professor Jeffrey McClurken shows students how to blend the traditional and the digital.

Jeff McClurken Receives Topher Bill Award

Jeffrey McClurken, associate professor of history and American studies, has been recognized with the J. Christopher Bill Outstanding Faculty Service Award for his contributions to the university as well as involvement and leadership in the community.

“His work with administrators, alumni, community members, faculty and students alike constitutes a truly impressive record of service,” said Chris Foss, professor of English, who presented the award at an open faculty session Thursday, Aug. 23.

McClurken, who joined the UMW faculty in 2001, has been instrumental to the university’s digital history efforts and has been on the forefront of incorporating technology in the classroom. He also serves as chairperson of the history and American studies department.

For the full news release, please visit

Jeff McClurken Featured on Ars Technica Website

Jeff McClurken, associate professor of history, discusses technology trends and higher education in the Sunday, June 10 article “Future U: Fear and Loathing in Academia” on the Ars Technica website.

UMW Students Create Online Gallery for James Monroe Museum

"Our Deepest Sympathy Mr. President," 1941, courtesy of

A group of UMW students in a spring 2012 digital history course created an online gallery of political cartoons for the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library. Students Andrew Becken, Rachel Icard, Rachel Luehrs and Heather Thompson archived the museum’s collection of 114 political cartoons dating from the 1890s to 1960s.

The students worked with James Monroe Museum staff, the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and faculty members in the Department of History and American Studies, including Claudine Ferrell, Porter Blakemore and Jeff McClurken. James Monroe Museum Director Scott Harris originally brought the project idea to Professor McClurken and the students worked extensively with James Monroe Museum Curator Jarod Kearney throughout the project.

The archive is available online at

The digital history course also included projects on James Farmer lectures, UMW buildings and Southeast Virginia historical markers.

James Farmer Lectures Available Online

“The James Farmer Lectures: Group Portrait 1” by ModernSelkie on Flickr

Civil Rights leader and former Mary Washington professor James Farmer’s reflection lectures are now available online as part of a digital archive. Four students constructed the archive as part of Associate Professor of History Jeff McClurken’s “Adventures in Digital History 2012” seminar.

Seniors Laura Donahue, Michelle Martz and Caitlin Murphy and junior Kelsey Matthews worked with McClurken and members of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies team to archive 13 of Farmer’s lectures from 1983. Farmer taught civil rights history at Mary Washington and was Commonwealth Professor of History at the time of the reflection lecture series.

To learn more about the project or to view the lectures, visit

Jess Rigelhaupt’s Op-Ed Appears in The Free Lance-Star

Assistant Professor of History and American Studies Jess Rigelhaupt’s op-ed “American Gulag: Justice for All?” appeared in the Sunday, April 1 issue of The Free Lance-Star. In the piece, Rigelhaupt argues for a review of the current American criminal justice system and provides historical background on incarceration practices.

Jeff McClurken Blogs for Chronicle of Higher Education

Jeff McClurken, associate professor of history, wrote “A Report from EduCon 2.4” for the ProfHacker blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website. In the post, he discusses his takeaways from the recent EduCon 2.4 conference and explains the parallels between the issues facing higher education and K-12 education.