A Chicago native, Aaron Shapiro arrives at UNC Charlotte as the new Director of Public History after spending 5 years at Auburn University, where he started and directed the public history program. He previously served as national historian for the US Forest Service in Washington, DC, where he was involved with a wide variety of public history projects including historical films, websites, oral histories, interpretive planning, exhibit development, historic preservation, and heritage tourism initiatives. In addition, Shapiro worked on collections management and federal records issues and regularly provided historical policy papers for staff. As agency historian, he developed relationships with interagency and non-profit partners to further the goals of the agency history program. Before joining the Forest Service, Shapiro was Assistant Director of the Scholl Center for Family and Community History at Chicago ‘s Newberry Library. At the Newberry he served as academic director for two Department of Education Teaching American History grants, working cooperatively with the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago-area cultural and non-profit institutions.
Shapiro received his MA and PhD in History from the University of Chicago and a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania. He is particularly interested in questions regarding the intersection of people and place, changing perspectives of the cultural and natural landscape, and connections between memory, heritage, and public historical interpretation. His research explores questions about the history of land use and environmental change, modern environmental politics, the relationship between work and leisure, and broader cultural transformations in twentieth century urban and rural America.
He has served as chair of the Education Committee of the American Society for Environmental History and as vice chair of the Alabama Historical Commission National Register Review Board.
BA, University of Pennsylvania
PhD, MA, University of Chicago
- The Lure of the North Woods: Cultivating Tourism in the Upper Midwest (University of Minnesota Press, 2013).
Journal Articles and Book Chapters
- “‘Follow the Arrows to the Arrowhead’: The Environment of Tourism in the Interwar Years.” In George Vrtis and Christopher W. Wells, eds, Nature’s Crossroads: The Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota, Under contract with the History of the Urban Environment series, ed. Martin Melosi and Joel Tarr, University of Pittsburgh Press.
- “A Grand Experiment: USDA Forest Service Experimental Forests and Ranges” in Deborah Hayes, Susan Stout, Ralph Crawford, and Anne Hoover eds., USDA Forest Service Experimental Forests and Ranges: Research for the Long Term (Springer, 2014), 3-23.
- ”‘Air Conditioned by the Cool Breezes of Lake Superior’: Vacationing in Michigan’s Copper Country After World War Two,” in Kim Hoagland, Terry Reynolds, and Erik Nordberg, eds., New Perspectives on Michigan’s Copper Country (Houghton, MI: Quincy Mine Hoist Association, 2007), 135-152.
- ”Up North on Vacation: Tourism and Resorts in Wisconsin ‘s North Woods,” Wisconsin Magazine of History (Summer 2006): 2-13.
- “Promoting Cloverland: Regional Associations, State Agencies, and the Creation of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula Tourist Industry,” Michigan Historical Review 29 (Spring 2003): 1-37.
- “Wisconsin Dells, Indiana Dunes, Ozarks, and Spas” in Richard Sisson, Christian Zacher, and Andrew Cayton, eds., The American Midwest: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007).
William Boyd, The Slain Wood: Papermaking and Its Environmental Consequences in the American South in Enterprise and Society 18 (March 2017): 242-244.
Michael R. Federspiel with contemporary photographs by Rebecca Zeiss. Little Traverse Bay: Past and Present in Middle West Review 3 (Fall 2016): 152-154.
John F. Freeman, Black Hills Forestry: A History in Pacific Historical Review 85 (August 2016): 458-459.
Mason C. Carter, Robert Kellison, and R. Scott Wallinger, Forestry in the U.S. South: A History in North Carolina Historical Review XCIII (July 2016): 352-353.
James R. Skillen, Federal Ecosystem Management Its Rise, Fall, and Afterlife in The Public Historian 38 (May 2016): 109-111.
David R. Foster, ed. Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge in Environmental History (October 2015): 843-845.
Char Miller, Seeking the Greatest Good: The Conservation Legacy of Gifford Pinchot, in Agricultural History (Summer 2015): 466-468.
David M. Wrobel, Global West, American Frontier: Travel, Empire, and Exceptionalism from Manifest Destiny to the Great Depression in Chronicles of Oklahoma (Winter 2014-15): 499-501.
Sarah Mittlefehldt, Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics in North Carolina Historical Review (July 2014): 376.
Judith Koll Healey, Frederick Weyerhaeuser and the American West in Environmental History (April 2014): 401-403.
Ellen Stroud, Nature Next Door: Cities and Trees in the American Northeast in Environmental History (October 2013): 811-812.
Richard Widick, Trouble in the Forest: California’s Redwood Wars in Environmental History 17 (October 2012): 883-885.
Thomas R. Cox, The Lumberman’s Frontier: Three Centuries of Land Use, Society, and Change in America’s Forests in Environmental History 16 (April 2011): 364-365.
Char Miller, Ground Work: Conservation in American Culture in Environmental History 14 (July 2009): 571-572.
Blake Harrison, The View From Vermont: Tourism and the Making of an American Rural Landscape in Environmental History 12 (July 2007): 692-693.
Selected Public History Projects and Grants
Project Director, Preserving Memory in a Digital Age: Charlotte-Eastern Europe Cemetery Experience, 2016-2020, Funded by a $47,500 grant from the Blumenthal Foundation and $7500 grant from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Charlotte
Curator, Undergraduate Student Exhibitions for Carolina Actors Studio Theatre’s performance of Angels in America, Charlotte, NC, May 2014.
USDA Forest Service Region 8 (Southern Region) Oral History Project, August 2012-September 2013. ($30,000 contract).
Auburn University Virtual War Memorial, July 2011-August 2013.
Co-Organizer, Intersections and Meeting Grounds: Public History and Community Conference, February 17-18, 2012, Auburn, AL.
“A Grand Experiment: 100 Years of Experimental Forests and Ranges and Counting.” Film Advisor and Script Development.
U.S. Forest Products Lab Centennial Oral History Project, A Cooperative Project of the USDA Forest Service, USDA Forest Products Lab, University of Wisconsin Oral History Program, and University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
Modern United States, public history, environmental history, global heritage, historic preservation, history and new media, and oral history.
Courses Taught (Auburn University)
HIST 2020 US History, 1865-Present
HIST 3550 American Environmental History
HIST 3800 Historian’s Craft
HIST 3970 History of the American West
HIST 3970 Forest and Agricultural History
HIST 4950 Senior Thesis
HIST 4967 Honors Special Problems
HIST 5810/6810 Fundamentals of Public History
HIST 5820 Historic Preservation and Cultural Resource Management
HIST 5970/6970 Museum Studies
HIST 7180 Seminar in Modern US History
HIST 7810 Research Seminar in US History Since 1865
HIST 7910 Public History Internship
HIST 7970 Digital History and New Media