Relevancy & History Project Team

Dr. David Cline

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Dr. David Cline is Professor of History and Founding Director of the SDSU Center for Public and Oral History. He specializes in 20th and 21st century U.S. social movements, oral history, the digital humanities, and public history, and oversees the SDSU Graduate Certificate in Public History. From 2013-2020 he was a Lead Interviewer and Research Scholar for the Civil Rights History Project of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, and from 2011-2017 he was Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Tech and Director/Associate Director of the Graduate Certificate in Public History there. David was also the Associate and Acting Director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2008 to 2011. David has been Principal Investigator or Co-PI on grant projects of over $2 million, most of them dealing with oral history and digital history. He is currently in charge of two major grant projects in California: the Relevancy and History Project at Old Town State Historic Park and the California Oral History Project for the California State Archives. In 2022, he was recipient of a Public Scholar Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for work on the book The Last Great Trip to Nowhere: A True Story of the Brazilian Jungle and the Final Gasps of the Victorian Age of Exploration.

David's most recent book is Twice Forgotten: African Americans in the Korean War, An Oral History (UNC Press, 2022), nominated for the Oral History Association Book Award and the Museum of African American History Stone Book Award. Twice Forgotten explores African American military service and the desegregation of the US military in the Korean War as a crucial step in the Civil Rights Movement. Library Journal, in a starred review, called “this exceptionally researched volume … an essential, insightful read,” Publisher’s Weekly called it “a treasure chest of insight into the Black military experience,” and the American Library Association’s Choice magazine says, “Cline has assembled an impressive oral history of African American soldiers in the Korean War and the impact that these returning veterans had on the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement in the US.” David is also the author of From Revolution to Reconciliation: The Student Interracial Ministry, Liberal Christianity, and the Civil Rights Movement (UNC Press, 2016) of which CHOICE said: "Every academic and church library should acquire this timely, important book." Nominated for the 2017 Oral History Association Book Prize, it examines the story of the Student Interracial Ministry, founded at the same time and place as its better-known ally the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, but whose seminarian members wanted to not only dismantle Jim Crow in the South but also change the mainline Protestant churches' approach to racial issues. David is also the author of Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961-1973 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), which explored community reproductive rights networks in Massachusetts prior to the Roe V. Wade decision. Creating Choice was honored with a Margaret Sanger Award in 2006 and an Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Journal of Massachusetts in 2019. He is also co-editor, with Kristin Lawlor and Michael Roberts, of Roll and Flow: The Cultural Politics of Skateboarding and Surfing (SDSU Press, 2023).

Dr. Soljour

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Dr. Kishauna Soljour is an Assistant Professor specializing in Public Humanities and African Diaspora Studies. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Public Humanities Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Sarah Lawrence College. Dr. Soljour received her Ph.D. in History from Syracuse University in 2019. Her dissertation, “Beyond the Banlieue: French Postcolonial Migration & the Politics of a Sub-Saharan Identity,” won Syracuse’s All University Prize and the Council of Graduate Schools & ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award in Humanities in 2019. Her research concentrates on the nexus of cultural, political, and social change for Diasporic communities in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Embracing the mission of public humanities, Dr. Soljour is the Associate Director of the Public & Oral History Center at SDSU. She has developed a number of initiatives to expand avenues of access to public and oral history including curated exhibitions, a digital oral history archive, and podcasts; as well as, partnered with Humanities New York, the United Nations Volunteer Program and the Yonkers Public Library.  


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Kayla (she/her) is a Master's of History student also earning a Certificate in Public History at San Diego State University. She earned her BA in Journalism at the University of Richmond in Virginia, and has held internships with the National Park Service, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the Women's Museum of California. From her thesis research in gender and the United Farm Workers to her work with the Relevancy & History Project, Kayla is always striving to unearth the stories submerged beneath whitewashed historical narratives.  

Thomas Pugh

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Thomas is a second year History MA student at San Diego State University with certificates in Public History and Effective College Teaching. His primary area of research explores California borderlands history during the nineteenth century with an emphasis on interpersonal relations and interactions within a coastal borderland setting. Focusing on Southern California, his thesis research investigates the creation and operation of illicit socioeconomic channels in San Diego and Southern California between 1850 and 1900. Central themes and subthemes often include migration, maritime history, trade, identity genesis, colonial legacy, and racial relations. Thomas began working with the SDSU Research Foundation on the Relevancy and History Program last May, helping the team create a new visitor survey, oversee undergraduate and graduate internships at the park, as well as other institutional research assignments currently in development. Along with co-worker Kayla Solsbak, Thomas presented a poster for the National Council on Public History (NCPH) annual conference this April detailing their work on the Relevancy and History Project to date. 

Kristin McGowan

Image of Kristin wearing Parks uniform standing next to a donkey cutout. She is in the Visitors Center.











Kristin McGowan joined California State Parks in September 2022 as Interpreter II for the Historic Sector and the Relevancy & History lead for San Diego Coast District. Prior to this, she worked for over 10 years at the Ocean Institute, an educational non-profit focusing on maritime and ocean education. During the time at the ocean institute, she has created new educational programming (virtual and in person), training development and facilitation, staff management, and project management. She has a Master’s in Public History from California State University Fullerton. Her research focused on maritime history in the 17th and 18th century, and the role of the sea in the development of national identity, power and culture. Her thesis utilized maritime history as a platform to bring more engaging storytelling and hands on history into elementary education curriculum. 

Blythe Wilson

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Blythe was hired in March 2022 as the Relevancy and History Manager (Interpreter III) for the Interpretation and Education Division of California State Parks. Prior to taking on this role, Blythe served as the Regional Interpretive Specialist for the Orange Coast District for nearly 13 years and worked for California State Parks since 2003 as an interpretive planner, historian, and educational leader. Blythe is passionate about fostering equitable learning and networking environments for state park staff, volunteers, partners, and community groups. Her experience includes project management, exhibit development, outdoor education administration, interpretive planning, teaching, and serving as the Orange Coast District Volunteer in Parks Program Coordinator. She holds a Master of Arts focused in Public History from California State University, Sacramento. Blythe served as the Director for the National Association for Interpretation Region 8.