Autumn Kalikin, BA ’14

Photo of Autumn

As senior manager of collections at the DC History Center, Autumn Kalikin is responsible for the preservation and care of archival and artifact holdings.

“I have been in this position since July 2022 and plan to retire here. It is my dream job.”­­­

The DC History Center is the only community-based nonprofit focused on the District of Columbia’s history. Formerly the Historical Society of Washington DC, the Center has been collecting the city’s history since 1894.

The Center’s mission is to “deepen understanding of our city’s past to connect, empower and inspire,” Autumn said. “We are committed to preserving and elevating the stories of Washington's diverse people, neighborhoods, and institutions through free programming, K-12 education and research services.”

Photo of Autumn in an isle of framed photo

At ONU, Autumn majored in history with minors in public history/museum studies and literature. During her senior year, she interned at the National Museum of the United States Navy through the Washington Center. After graduation, she obtained a master’s degree in museum studies from George Washington University. While in graduate school, she interned at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Newseum.

For the first four years of her career, Autumn worked several contracting positions in military museums and archives, including the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Army Corps of Engineers.

When a position for collections manager at the DC History Center appeared, she knew it was for her.

She’s passionate about her work largely because museum collections feel alive to her.

“I approach collections as organic beings deserving of care and autonomy. I am interested in the ways that relationships inform narrative in archiving, in building connections between place and individual histories and getting to know the character of a city and sharing that through tangible histories.”

One favorite activity is writing a column for Washington History magazine, the only scholarly publication dedicated to the history of the District of Columbia.

“My ‘On the Shelf’ column highlights a collections item every issue,” Autumn explained. “As a history major, I love historical research and writing. Crafting this column keeps my skills sharp and allows me to share my favorite finds with a readership beyond the limits of the city.”

Photo of Autumn cleaning an older camera

She also has especially enjoyed teaming up with the National Museum of African American History and Culture Smithsonian to digitize three collections of oral histories as part of a joint grant initiative. The collections span 1988-1992 and feature narratives from Washingtonians about the Black arts and theater scenes, and historic Black neighborhoods in the District.

Autumn is grateful for her ONU professors, who “pushed me to present my research at conferences and expand my network,” especially Dr. Robert Alexander, professor of political science, and retired professors Dr. Ray Schuck and Dr. John Lomax.

She believes one of ONU’s greatest benefits is its commitment to the humanities.

“Though these careers are not necessarily the money-makers, the work is important, and ONU consistently succeeds in preparing the next generation of cultural heritage professionals.”