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Profile profile for FranzKG

Kathleen Franz


B.A. University of Texas at San Antonio, American Studies, 1990, Magna Cum Laude
Ph.D. Brown University, American Civilization, 1999

Research Specialties: 

My research focuses on the cultural history of business and technology in the United States from the 1870s to the 1950s.   Before joining the museum, I spent sixteen years as a history professor and director of public history programs, and I am interested in the ways museums can inform our national conversations about contemporary issues. At the moment, I'm collecting stories of Hispanic advertising and Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. from the 1960s to the 1990s. I am also laying the groundwork for a cultural biography of women in the ad industry before 1950. 

View my full C.V. here.



Current Projects:

  • Co-curator, American Enterprise exhibition, July 1, 2015-
  • Research and Collecting Initiative in Hispanic Advertising, 1960s-1990s
  • Research and Collecting Initiative in Spanish Language Broadcasting in the United States, 1930-1990s
  • Research for an article on Helen Rosen Woodward and Women in the 1920s Ad Industry (in progress)

Past Exhibition Projects:

  • Curator. Macaulay: The Art of Drawing Architecture, National Building Museum, Washington, DC, January 2005-May 2008<
  • Co-Curator. On Track: Transportation and the American City, National Building Museum, September 2000-October 2002.


Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition: 
  • Goldman Sachs Senior Fellowship, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, 2011-2012
  • Co-PI, Teaching American History Grant. $964,000 awarded by the US Department of  Education, 2010-2013 
  • Teaching with Research Award, American University, 2010
  • Brooke Hindle Prize, Society for the History of Technology, 2002
  • Senior Fellowship, Lemelson Center, June-August, 1999, June-August 2000
  • Doctoral Dissertation Grant, National Sceince Foundation, June 1996-1997
  • Deutsches Museum, Forschungsinstitut für Technik und Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Munich, Germany, June-July 1995


Professional Affiliations: 

Journal of American History

  • Co-Editor, Exhibition Reviews, 2012-Present

Organization of American Historians

  • Member, Nominating Committee, 2014-Present (elected)
  • Chair, Committee on Public History, 2009-2010
  • Member, Committee on Public History, 2007-2011
  • Member, Local Resources Committee, 2010

National Council on Public History

  • Board member, 2014-Present (elected)
  • Co-Chair, Program Committee, joint conference with the OAH, 2012
  • Working Group on Tenure and Promotion, 2007-2010
  • Delegate to American Council of Learned Societies, 2008-2010

Society for the History of Technology

  • Dibner Award Committee, 2015-2017



American Enterprise: A History of Business in America Washington, DC, Smithsonian Books, 2015
Major Problems in American Popular Culture. New York: Cengage, 2012.
Tinkering: Consumers Reinvent the Early Automobile. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005. Paper edition 2011.