Josi Lieb, BA ’20

Photo of Josi

Josi Lieb is the public program coordinator for the Andrew Jackson Hermitage in Nashville, Tenn., the historical site of the home and farm of the seventh president of the United States.

Her responsibilities include researching, developing, and executing historically-influenced programs for the site, including living history performances, commemorations, and whiskey festivals.

Her “heart for history” began with a childhood gift: “Felicity” the American Girl doll. As a little girl, Josi was enthralled with Felicity’s stories of early American life. Her “Grammy” furthered her interest with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. The feeling of being transported back to the past captured Josi’s imagination and never let go.

“I remember, at age 6, getting to talk to ‘Patrick Henry’ and that was that—I was in love with this field,” she said.

Another photo of Josi

Now, she’s committed to making the past come alive for others.

“It’s an incredible responsibility to help personalize the past for people. When history is human, people bring more heart into understanding and learning from it—rather than keeping it surface level and data focused,” she explained.

At the Hermitage, she and fellow staff members don’t try to influence people’s thoughts or feelings about Andrew Jackson, who is a controversial historical figure because of his treatment of enslaved people and Native Americans. Rather, they seek to help guests learn about his policies, his family, those he enslaved, and who he was as a person.

 “What people do with the historic stories we share is truly what they make of it,” she said.

Her favorite event every year is the Hermitage’s Enslaved Memorial Service. “It’s incredibly special to honor and humanize those bound to this site through the institution of slavery.”

Josi is grateful her ONU history professors spurred her passion for the past with unique opportunities to learn and grow. While an ONU history major, she interned at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and did an independent study with the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum. After graduation, she received her M.A. in public history from Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland.

“People go to college with massive ideals of how they want to impact the world,” she said. “Ohio Northern doesn’t try to demote those dreams, but helps make them a reality.”