I’m Cynthia Heider, a public history graduate student at Temple University. I see you’ve found my blog!

About me

I’m interested in urban history, the Progressive Era, and digital initiatives in history and the humanities among other things, including craft beer, cats, skee ball, hiking, and British crime television. I earned my B.A. in History from Goucher College.

While at Temple, I’ve co-organized PubComm Philly, the annual public history conference; worked as the Martin L. Levitt Fellow at the American Philosophical Society’s Center for Digital Scholarship; and served as Digital Media Co-chair for the History Department’s graduate student association, the James A. Barnes Club. My thesis research centers around the settlement house movement in Philadelphia, and will feature a history project in partnership with the Lutheran Settlement House in Fishtown.

Contact me at cynthia.heider@temple.edu, or find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter @comebackcities. Learn more about my professional experience and the projects I’ve worked on by exploring my CV and portfolio.

About Mudlarking

Mudlarks were scavengers. They searched up and down the banks of the River Thames for discarded items they might be able to sell- things like pieces of wood, coal, bone, iron, copper, and rope. In 1851, Henry Mayhew interviewed a young mudlark in volume 4 of London Labour and the London Poor who described his work thusly:

When the bargemen heave coals to be carried from their barge to the shore, pieces drop into the water among the mud which we afterwards pick up. Sometimes we wade in the mud to the ankle, at other times to the knee. Sometimes pieces of coal do not sink, but remain on the surface of the mud; at other times, we seek for them with our hands and feet. (371)

By this measure, in some ways, the work of a historian is not unlike that of a mudlark. We seek out the bits and pieces of history that float on the surface or have been buried in the silt. We endlessly toil to uncover stories of everyday people and bring them new life.

This blog began as a record of my thoughts and time as a public history graduate student at Temple University, but ultimately it remains a place for me to scavenge the past, tell some interesting stories, and shape my path as a public historian.