Kimberly Alexander knows a thing or two about shoes. She’s the author of the award-winning book, “Treasures Afoot,” which explores the history of the 18th century Georgian shoe and its journey from bustling London streets to the feet of New Englanders. Professor Alexander is a scholar of 18th and 19th century New England material culture and history, and a museum professional passionate about public history. As such, she is steeped not only in shoes but in all manner of textiles, as well as art, architecture and archaeological finds. This rich archive is fundamental to her teaching, which can be described quite literally as “hands-on,” even if it requires PPE. She brings objects to the classroom so students can personalize history. One guest lecturer arrives to class in Civil War costume; another hews wood with period tools. Her private collection of textiles offers up its own lessons, as do the museum field trips her classes take. History takes form through the paraphernalia of both the famous and the ordinary, and by practicing the methods used to tease out their meaning.
From gateway offerings to the specialized courses in the museum studies graduate program she directs, Professor Alexander prepares students to succeed. Many an internship and project she supervised has turned into a job at sites such as Old Sturbridge Village, the Wright Museum and Ancestry.com.
One undergraduate student sums up Professor Alexander’s impact in this way: “She has taught me both history and life lessons. She has been there for me and supported me as I live away from home. My experience at UNH would be completely different if it weren’t for her.”