We commemorate National Women’s History Month 2017 with a series that profiles remarkable women who work for Historical Research Associates (HRA). Natalie Perrin specializes in research, restoration, and survey of historic-era buildings and structures, aiding public and private clients in compliance with federal, state and local laws regarding the protection of cultural resources. She serves as a project manager for both architectural and archaeological projects, and has authored several National Register nominations and other scholarly works.
HRA: Before working at HRA, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
Natalie: Unusual: Creating ceramic tile sample boards for $0.25 a board
– but I was 10 and it was for my dad. Interesting: Bartending.
HRA: What was your dream job as a kid and why?
Natalie: Paleontologist: I wanted to be able to get really dirty and know my mom couldn’t say anything about it.
HRA: How has HRA helped you in your career development?
Natalie: HRA was supportive of my personal and professional growth from the beginning, hiring me fresh out of graduate school, providing me with professional development funds and opportunities, allowing me to do pro bono work on significant historic properties, and encouraging my work with local non-profits and partners.
HRA: What woman inspires you and why?
Natalie: Almost every woman I have had the opportunity to work with inspired me. We all balance so many factors in our lives: career, family, travel, and we do it all, as they say, “backward and in high heels.” If you end the day with even one hair in place, you are an inspiration!
HRA: If you could interview one woman (dead or alive) who would it be?
Natalie: Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns. As a white woman who grew up in the American South, I thought I understood the history of slavery, civil rights, and racism in America. This book showed me what I thought I knew didn’t even scratch the surface. It should be required reading in every school.
HRA: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?
Natalie: Angelina Jolie, of course. Because, duh, who wouldn’t?!
HRA: What project at HRA has been your greatest success, and why?
Natalie: The National Park Service Abandoned Mineral Lands Survey of 2012. Two weeks of back-country camping, in the summer, in some of our country’s most exhilarating national parks. Completely removed from phones and email, I navigated difficult terrain for days with just the pack on my back and the occasional wild huckleberry. My greatest “success” project wasn’t about clients or dollars or challenging situations. It was about remembering that the work can be challenging, beautiful, and unique.