PHS Staff Profile: McKenna Britton | Presbyterian Historical Society

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PHS Staff Profile: McKenna Britton

August 18, 2023

What is your role at PHS? What do you do from day-to-day?

Here at PHS, I act as the Communications Associate. Under the guidance and encouragement of my supervisor, the Director of Communications Kristen Gaydos, I work to share all things PHS with our ever-growing audiences. My day-to-day duties vary, and I wear a few different hats, but the most important things that I am tasked with include:

  • putting together and sending out our monthly e-newsletter, PHS Matters,
  • brainstorming, researching, designing, and publishing content for social media (this includes our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages),
  • engaging with our social media followers,
  • creating flyers, e-mail campaigns, and other items for events, our development team, and other PHS happenings,
  • writing blogs and editing other team members blogs,
  • some minor website management, like the creation of blogs and event pages,
  • designing and assisting in the publication of our bi-annual newsletter, Presbyterian Heritage.

The variety of work that I am involved in at PHS means that on any given day you might walk into my office to see me either a) researching information on a museum artifact or historical figure for a blog post, b) playing around in InDesign, or c) putting together Barbie memes for Twitter.

How does your work support the mission of PHS?

My work plays into the second half of our mission statement: Share and Transform. I do the first quite literally, by sharing snapshots of our collections—both archival and museum—with the broader public, through our newsletters, YouTube videos, and social media posts. These platforms allow us to share information about past events, people, communities, protests, and so much more. Whether it’s a post about our postcard collection, a fish-head gavel from our museum collection, or the Rev. Jack Rogers gone camping, each piece of content that I send out into the world offers us the chance to share moments of history with our audience, possibly transforming their worldview or the way they interact with that same history.

A still from Episode 1 of "Clickbait: Exploring the RNS Collection," a video series created, shot, starred in, and edited by McKenna. You can watch Episode 1 here.

Why do you love working at PHS?

I love the creative freedom that is offered to me in my position at PHS. The trust that is placed in me by my supervisor, as well as our staff at large, is something I do not take for granted! The fact that I was able to put together memes inspired by the recently released Barbie movie and share them to our accounts is so exciting to me—and the reality that these fun posts, that are imbued with childlike glee and entertainment, but also with historical value, are some of our most popular is not lost on me. I have so much fun taking information from within our holdings and turning it into something creative, interpretive, and insightful to share with the public. Learning what kinds of posts our audiences engage with the most, enjoy the most, and want to see more of has been such a fun process, and really allows me to flex my creative muscles.

What do you find most inspiring about PHS?

The way that we view and interact with the past is always evolving. Here at PHS, we evolve right alongside it—and the ways in which we work to better ourselves, our collections, and our interpretation of history at PHS is so inspiring to me. Take, for instance, the work of our Reparative Description Committee. After putting out a Statement on Harmful Language in our collections, my fellow staff members have continued to work hard to eradicate any instances of words or phrases that have been published by PHS in the past, whether in collection guides or blog posts, that, today, are found to be harmful, insulting, racist, homophobic, or otherwise discriminatory.

This kind of work is so important; adapting our language and allowing ourselves to make edits on things said in the past shows a level of acceptance, understanding, and evolution that is intrinsic to museums and historical institutions like ours. I am so inspired by my coworkers and their dedication to our community.

Please share an interesting/fun fact about yourself.

I am a big fan of classic movies—Singin’ in the Rain and Sabrina are two of my favorites. In that same vein, I’ve watched every episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

On an entirely different note, I love pickles and will try just about anything that is pickle-flavored or pickle-adjacent.