« | Main

Kate Clifford Larson – Historian and Author

By Admin | May 7, 2024

Where did you go to school and what was your major?
I received my BA at Simmons College (now University) in Boston. I majored in Economics and History, both of which I loved. I went on to earn my MBA at Northeastern University, also in Boston.
Did you have an area of specialty in business after your MBA?
I worked for a small regional investment bank for a few years. My job was to research and determine the value of local and regional closely-held companies which were clients of my firm.
Did you enjoy investment banking?
The job was interesting and I really enjoyed it with one exception. When we had meetings with companies/clients, I was often asked to take notes. My boss was a great guy and he often jumped up and offered to take the notes, especially if I was the industry expert at the table.
Can you describe your thought process of leaving the business world and becoming a historian?
I had two small children at home when I decided to leave the business world and start a different career as a teacher. I went back to Simmons and enrolled in their Master of Liberal Studies program. It was fantastic. I took Women’s History and Women’s Studies courses, African American History and Culture courses, and more. It was heaven to me.
Your first book was the very successful work on Harriet Tubman. How did you choose her as your first subject?
While I was working on my master’s degree at Simmons, I discovered, this was the early 1990s, that there had not been a modern adult biography written about Harriet Tubman. The last was published in 1943. My professors were shocked like I was. She was famous, but her fame mostly rested on the scores and scores of children’s books that had been published throughout the 20 th century.
You did not think that was adequate representation?
They were filled with myths, misinformation, stereotypes, and they had little depth or critical analysis. I became passionate about trying to find historical documentation about her. My professors at Simmons agreed that digging into her life story and the research it entailed was too complicated for a master’s thesis and they encouraged me to move forward and get my doctorate in history.
Where did you study for your PhD?
I ended up at the University of New Hampshire and I was privileged to work with some outstanding historians who were eager to guide me through the research and writing. My dissertation on Harriet Tubman was published as Bound for the Promised Land in late 2003. All these years later I continue to be grateful for their mentorship, support, and incredible generosity.
You served as a consultant on the Harriet Tubman biopic that starred Cynthia Erivo. What did your duties consist of? Were you actually on set?
I was not on set. They had other consultants who did work on set who provided advice on clothing, language, sets, etc.
Did it make you want to write a film script?
Actually, I worked on the script with Kasi Lemmons. She had acquired the script from a writer who had written it in the early 1990s and he had little knowledge of Tubman’s real life history. So, we set out to correct the myths and misinformation. It made me want to learn how to write scripts better. It isn’t so easy.
How close was the film to the actual biographical details in Tubman’s life?
There are some inaccuracies in the film, though nothing really consequential in my view. Kasi did an incredible job teasing out and bringing to life Harriet Tubman, the brilliant, fierce and loving woman that she really was Cynthia Erivo was masterful in the role.

Topics: Uncategorized | Comments Off on Kate Clifford Larson – Historian and Author

Comments are closed.