How often does an interest in volunteering end up leading to a job opportunity?

That was the case when UMES associate professor of history Dr. Kathryn Barrett-Gaines was looking to do something during her summer vacation. She was interested in giving back to where she lived in Bowie, Md.

“I love it there, and I thought, I have extra time, maybe I should volunteer and I thought, what would I like to volunteer doing?” Barrett-Gaines said. “I like parks, and there’s parks in my neighborhood and parks in my community. You know, I’ll pick up trash … I’ll do something.”

UMES professor Dr. Kathryn Barrett-Gaines

During a visit to the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s website, she saw the opportunity to put her expertise in African history and culture to use at the Marietta House Museum.

In her role at the Marietta House, Barrett-Gaines will be on-site at the museum this semester while teaching her UMES courses remotely as she conducts her research interpreting the African roots of the diaspora at the Marietta House.

According to the Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation website, the mission of the museum is to explore, elevate, and transform awareness of the interconnected relationships of the people and their descendants who lived and labored at the former tobacco plantation and family home of former U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Gabriel Duvall.

Barrett-Gaines said. “But what (these museums are) doing is that they’re not focusing on the white people that lived there, they’re focusing on the enslaved. That’s the way these museums are being pivoted and it’s a really cool thing.”

The Marietta House Museum

“If you take a tour of Marietta House and you take a tour of the enslaved people’s life, it’s amazing, and it’s sobering, and it brings tears to your eyes the way they bring you through and show you this … it’s like thank goodness this is where we are now in the 21st century.”

Barrett-Gaines said having the opportunity to be a visiting scholar at the museum not only allows her to take a historical look at her community but will provide opportunities to UMES students as well.

“Marietta House and other museums, they’re very excited about a pipeline between HBCUs in Maryland…because a lot of times these opportunities go to University of Maryland College Park Students, even Bowie State … but to have a pipeline to our students is a big opportunity.”

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