Professor and Director of the Center for Public History
Fields of Specialization: Public History, Museum Studies, American Architecture, Material Culture, Southern History, US Women, Heritage Tourism, History of American Foodways, Folklife, Traditional Music and Craft, and Early American History.
Dr. McCleary's current research focuses on National Park Service history, textile history in Georgia, and cultural heritage tourism. She co-curated a Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Exhibition on rural America, Crossroads: Change in Rural America, which opened in 2018, and she serves as the state scholar for the 2019-20 exhibition tour in Georgia. She is also currently researching and writing about heritage tourism and craft in Malawi.
Dr. McCleary is preparing to teach a Study Away class on cultural heritage interpretation and preservation tp New Mexico in Spring 2020 and a course on Heritage and Tourism for a summer 2021 study abroad trip to South Africa, both offered through the Department of History.
Dr. McCleary coordinates the Public History program and the Museum Studies Certificate program. She co-teaches the courses in Museum Studies with staff at the Atlanta History Center, having worked for many years in the museum community in Virginia and as a museum consultant.
In her role as Director of the Center for Public History, Dr. McCleary directs a variety of research projects focusing on the history and culture of the region and the state, including the West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail and the Regional Music Project. She co-chairs a university committee documenting and interpreting a cemetery for enslaved peoples on the former Thomas Bonner plantation, formerly located on the UWG campus.
Before coming to establish the public history program at the University of West Georgia in 1997, Dr. McCleary worked as an architectural historian with the Virginia state historic preservation office; as assistant director and curator of research and programs at the Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton, Virginia; and as a public history consultant.
Education / Degrees
- B.A., History, Occidental College, 1976
- M.A., American Civilization, Brown University, 1977
- Ph.D., American Civilization, Brown University, 1996