Angela Smith grew up on the banks of Old Hickory Lake in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, just outside of Nashville, during the 1960s and ‘70s. Her family’s home was surrounded on three sides by cow pastures, which today have been subdivided and crisscrossed with asphalt. That rural environment and connection to the past gave her the foundation for a career that is now expanding to blend history and technology.
After she graduated from Belmont University in 1984 with a degree in English and communications, she spent 20 years working on the cutting edge of a huge graphic design technology shift as a designer and graphic production specialist. Seven years ago, she decided to weave her new media and graphic design experience with her passion for historical understanding, using storytelling and documentary filmmaking as primary tools. To learn more about those areas, she is enrolled in the certificate program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. She completed a masters degree in history and a Ph.D. in public history at Middle Tennessee State University. Currently, she is an assistant professor of history at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota where she teaches public history, digital history, and 20th Century American History.
She has taken the opportunity to use what she’s learned in her graphics/media career in hands-on teaching. Among the documentary film projects she has supervised with undergraduate students at Belmont and graduate students at MTSU are Belmont’s beginnings in the 19th century; the transition from Ward-Belmont women’s school to the Baptist-affiliated Belmont College in 1951; the Nashville sit-ins in the early 1960s, the history of RCA’s historic Studio B on Music Row; and historic preservation in the city of Murfreesboro.
She is also collaborating with fellow PhD student, Brian Dempsey, on a documentary about heritage tourism in the Mississippi Delta.