Donna L. Halper: Personal Background

I am currently an Associate Professor of Communication at Lesley University, Cambridge MA. My areas of expertise are 19th and 20th century media history, as well as women’s history, Jewish history, and African-American history. I am the author of five books and many free-lance articles. But that’s only part of the story. I don’t come from academia. I come from radio. I was an announcer, a music director, and then a radio consultant for many years. I’m the woman who discovered the rock group Rush, and they dedicated their first two albums to me. But when the media consolidated during the 1990s, I saw
my 35+ year career vanishing, and knew I had to reinvent myself. I had taught a few courses here and there, and was told I was good at it, so I became an adjunct instructor, usually teaching courses related to broadcasting and journalism. But I didn’t have a PhD, and without it, many doors in academia are closed. And so it was, at the age of 55,
that I went back to school. I was working full-time and studying part-time (and driving 100 miles each way to the University of Massachusetts, where I taught and also took courses); and although it took me 9 years, at the age of 64, I finally achieved my PhD in

I entered your contest for several reasons. One was that I wanted to challenge myself—I’m basically a working-class kid, and I wanted to see if I could hold my own against people who were undoubtedly more experienced at research than I. The other is more complicated to explain, but here’s the short version: as a media historian, I was
thrilled to find some new databases, including issues of magazines that I had sought for years– I have a large collection, but there were many holes in it, and thanks to your databases, so many valuable materials were now available to me. I wanted to thank you by showing you how useful and important your databases are and providing a concrete example of what can be done on

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