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Faculty Spotlight | Julie Mancine

14 January 2022

Julie Mancine, adjunct faculty member in the Arts and Humanities division as History of the United States instructor, also works full time as the College Archivist and Hays-Heighe House Coordinator. Her love of community inspired her career path and gave her the desire to share history with others. “Before college, I didn’t think history was interesting – just a string of names, dates, and key battles. When I learned that stories of my hometown’s and community’s past ‘counted’ as history, and that they connected to broader national stories, I realized history could be meaningful. Different parts appeal to different people, and that’s the ‘in’ to get them interested,” she explained.

Julie began to see the connections to history everywhere she looked. “A lifetime of going to antique shops and flea markets made me more history-minded. I’ve always loved the ‘stuff’ – material culture – from earlier eras. Old photos and letters, sure, but also toys and tools, rotary telephones, appliances, etc. How did they fit into people’s daily lives? How were they different from what came before? The seemingly unimportant stuff of daily life connects out to the big stories of American history in lots of ways,” Julie added.

Her passion for teaching history is evident in her classroom as well as in her students. When she was in graduate school, Julie took classes both in person and online. Despite being a good student, she struggled with the online format. This experience helped shape her teaching philosophy and affected how she would work with her own students. “The accountability was different, and good time management became a crucial skill. I am constantly aware of this now in the classes I teach; big projects I assign have scaffolding or checkpoints to make sure students are getting started early. I reach out to students if their work changes quality or they start to miss assignments. I try to be available during the times of day they’re likely to be doing coursework and encourage them to reach out whenever and for whatever they need,” said Julie.

The arrival of a global pandemic didn’t affect Julie too much, as she had taught exclusively online, but for her students it was a different matter. “Covid brought a flood of students who were having to work remotely for the first time. It’s so easy to get frustrated and panicked and just shut down when everything is through an unfamiliar interface. I tried to build redundant paths in Blackboard to help them find their way, and to give really clear instructions. A ‘lifeline’ forum where students can ask questions allows them to help each other, since they’re online all times of day and night, sometimes before I’d get to them. Their big assignment is a research project that they work on all semester, and smaller checkpoint assignments are designed to feed into that. Explaining why they have to do what they’re doing and how it’s supposed to help them can make a difference – no one likes busywork,” Julie added.

Before she arrived at Harford, the College‘s Library had no digital archive. Information was stored on paper records scattered throughout the College. Julie had worked in archives before she came to Harford and had developed her love of historical documents back in grad school while working as a teaching assistant. “When I TA’ed, I loved leading the class’s discussions of historical documents. A text that seemed old and dry can come alive with context, and students can see the connections to issues today,” she explained. She happily took on the daunting role of Harford archivist and began the challenging process.

“Creating the College Archives program was so much fun! It was like an investigation, especially at first – just figuring out what kinds of things we had, and the different places it was all squirreled away. Then it was a puzzle, deciding the most useful way to organize all the material. And then, producing rows of tidy boxes with their contents sensibly organized was very satisfying. With everything organized, we could begin to digitize material and put it online. Now you can flip through a yearbook virtually, from the Library’s website. You can look up specific courses or programs we offered in 1972, because the catalogs have all been digitized. You can browse decades of Harford Community College appearing in the news in the clippings scrapbooks, all online,” said Julie.

Julie also spends a good deal of time serving as the Hayes-Heighe House Coordinator. The historic building hosts exhibits and holds events relating to local history and culture. As coordinator, Julie works with the advisory committee to pick topics for exhibits and to generate ideas for events. She sometimes works with guest curators, drawn from Harford’s faculty. “I write panel text, select images, do graphic design, contact other institutions to borrow objects, and install the exhibits. I invite speakers, advertise events, and do introductions. There are open hours for visitors, and I also lead tours through the House. I encourage faculty to have their students visit the House itself, as well as the various exhibits that provide great hands-on learning. We also welcome a large number of community residents as visitors and attendees, so I see community outreach and education as a big part of my job,” explained Julie.

Community is truly at the heart of everything Julie does. “Hays-Heighe House is one of the community’s touch points for the College. Our programs are a commitment-free way for people to test the waters of this campus’s culture of learning and exploration and see that they are welcome participants. It’s a place where community members can interact with scholars and feel a camaraderie based on shared passion for particular subjects. The College Archives, then, preserve the experiences of our campus community. That reaches widely into Harford County, including former students, retired faculty and staff, the fans of our sports teams, people who attended Harford summer camps as children, and folks who come to see the ballet or the myriad of other cultural events here on campus,” Julie added.

On and off campus, Julie strives to make her community a better place for everyone. She is a member of the Safe Zone Committee and helped to create the Harford introductory LGBTQ+ sensitivity training and the longer ally training workshop, and co-presented those workshops a number of times. Julie also serves on the Diversity, Inclusion, Culture, and Equity (DICE) Committee. Out in the community, she served on a committee with specialists from other Maryland college archives and libraries that worked to plan for a regional digital archive, work that was eventually realized when Digital Maryland became a hub for the Digital Public Library of America. When Aberdeen Proving Ground reached its centennial anniversary, she served on the marketing and outreach committee for the celebration and is currently on the steering committee for Harford County’s 250th anniversary celebration, coming up in 2023.

In her spare time, Julie likes to hike, photographing and trying to identify the flora and fauna. “There are also fantastic museums and historic sites in this region of the country; I let the weather decide if I’ll be inside or outside on a weekend. I’m also a voracious reader, and can’t be interrupted once I’m into a book,” she said.

Julie’s valuable work as the College Archivist and Hays-Heighe House Coordinator has provided invaluable background and experiences for her coursework and instruction. Her role in connecting the College with the Harford County community is essential and cannot be overstated. You are deeply appreciated, Julie – keep up the amazing work!