Dr. Soltz is an Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Public History Program. She specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history, Jewish history, public history, museum studies, and digital history. In 2017, the Association for Jewish Studies Review published her first article “Just Miles Away but Worlds Apart: Examining Jewish Participation in Integration Programs at Black Mountain College and Highlander Folk School, 1933-1964.” In 2019, Dr. Soltz began data collection on a digital mapping project which will document all of Indiana’s 92 historic synagogues. Dr. Soltz has curated over seven solo exhibitions in Washington, D.C., and Ohio, several others with teams all over the world, and is now curating an exhibition to be held at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning & Leadership on the history of Jewish Chicago. Dr. Soltz is also a committee member of the Jewish Studies Program at Ball State. In addition to her academic endeavors, her work has appeared in The Forward, Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, and she has been featured in two PBS specials.
What was your journey to Ball State?
I grew up in Northeast Indiana, spent over a decade on the East Coast and in Israel, and completed my doctoral work at Ohio State University in 2016. In 2018, I accepted a Visiting Scholar position at Defiance College where I was later hired as an Assistant Professor of History and Religious Studies. In fall 2020, I began my new position here at Ball State as Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Public History Program.
What is your research focus?
Nineteenth- and twentieth-century U.S. history, Jewish history, public history, museum studies, and digital history.
How would you describe your perspective on teaching?
My teaching weaves three pedagogical strands together. First, I am continually trying to emphasize the connections of the past to our world today. We can learn so much about why things are the way they are today if we look to the past for guidance and information. Second, with so much misinformation available at our fingertips, we need to go back and consult actual primary sources. I put a strong emphasis on first-hand accounts in my classrooms to help tell authentic stories about what happened in the past. Finally, my students are in charge of their educational journeys. I guide my students and provide them with options to pursue topics they are interested in and in ways that make the most sense for their career paths and goals in life.
What are some of your goals for your first year here?
My goals for the first year are fairly simple: to learn more about the wonderful resources available at Ball State, to get to know my students, and to continue to explore virtual ways of doing public history.
You are heading the Public History Stream, can you tell us more about what that is and what it aims to do?
Public history generally encompasses any way in which the public (non-academics) interacts with historical knowledge. So really, public history is a set of methodologies. Public historians write for newspapers, help put up historical markers, advocate for historic preservation of the built environment, work in museums and historical sites, develop websites and podcasts, and the list goes on. The Public History Program at Ball State helps students who are interested in public history be better prepared for a career in the field. The program does this, in large part, by offering HIST 240, an Introduction to Public History, and HIST 369, the Public History Internship. I am proud to say Ball State public history interns have been all over the country and have gained incredible career and life experiences alongside course credits toward their degrees!
What are some of your hobbies/non-academic interests?
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, baking bread, gardening, hiking, walking my dogs, and using just about any kind of power tool.