Public History Alumni
John Dickson (2014)
Foreign Service Officer (retired) U.S. Department of State
During my two year public history master’s degree program, I was struck by the number of times that we heard the notion of public history entrepreneur. Six months after graduation, I find that that’s what best describes my current activities, opened up through the public history program.
Originally, I came to UMass to explore the connection between history and foreign relations, how history shapes our national identities and influences the way we conduct our interactions with other countries. Once on campus, though, it was hard not to take advantage of the broad range of opportunities available, leading to a broadly eclectic, rather than narrowly specialized course of study/research. From participation in the Guantanamo Public Memory Project exhibit, to an internship at Herman Melville’s home, Arrowhead; from a thesis on the preservation of the old Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield to preparation of a book proposal on history and foreign relations – all made for a full, active experience on campus.
Since graduating, I define my involvement by a series of discrete projects – support to a historic survey of North Adams, MA; teaching a class on history and foreign relations at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College; continuing to interpret at Arrowhead; completing an on-line tour of Pittsfield’s Mills (http://milltour.org/;) supporting Fulbright scholarship advising at UMass; completing a documentary on the preservation of the old Berkshire Athenaeum, and serving as the Chair of the Pittsfield Historical Commission, pictured here on the right moderating a recent public forum on saving St. Mary’s Church in Pittsfield from being turned into a donut restaurant.
Shuko Tamao (2014)
Doctoral student, University of Buffalo
Jacob Orcutt (2014)
Coordinator of Onsite Services at Connecticut's Old State House, CT
Prior to attending UMass I earned a B.A. in History, Anthropology, and Archaeological Studies from SUNY Potsdam. While attending SUNY Potsdam I served on the school's Honors Council and held positions in several student organizations, and was fortunate to have an opportunity to participate in an archaeological excavation in Menorca, Spain through the Ecomuseo de Cavalleria and the Sanisera Institute. Additionally, it was at SUNY Potsdam that I developed a passion for historical research in the fields of Early American and Indigenous history.
I fell into Public History rather by accident. Before applying to the University of Massachusetts for my M.A. program I had very little knowledge of Public History. The strength of the Public History program at UMass, as well as its evident practical applications both in and outside of academia, drove me to pursue a concentration in Museum Studies. My professors at UMass helped me to further develop my skills in research, writing, and finding practical applications for the "historian's toolkit." Additionally, my experience at UMass allowed me to construct a solid foundation in Indigenous studies to build upon as I progressed in the field. This culminated in my thesis, "Mishoonash in Southern New England: Construction and Use of Dugout Canoes in a Multicultural Context, " in which I examined the long history of dugout canoes in southern Connecticut and their interpretation in New England's museums.
My experience at UMass also allowed me to participate in a number of projects and professional development experiences. Along with two other students in my "Indigenous Peoples in Public History" course, I curated and interpreted mock text panels for a potential exhibit on Kahnawa:ke Mohawk culture. I participated in group projects with the South Deerfield Historical Commission to create an inventory of Sugarloaf Street Cemetery and Historic Deerfield to develop a series of walking tours for the museum. I was also a summer intern in collections for the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Conn.
Jill Dwiggins (2013)
Grants Program Developer, The Emily Dickinson Museum, MA
Before attending UMass I received my B.A. in English from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010 (minors, Environmental Studies and Music). During these years I interned in Dublin, Ireland and Concord, MA and completed an undergraduate thesis on sound and silence in the writing of Henry David Thoreau.
At UMass-Amherst, I tailored a dual track in Museums and Writing within my Public History curriculum. As parts of my course field work I created a research package for the Guantanamo Bay Public Memory Project and a walking tour for Historic Deerfield, Inc. In Summer 2012 I interned at the Concord Museum, and continued to work remotely for the museum through Spring 2013. I interpreted the exhibit floors of the museum for visitors, helped research and propose manuscripts and artifacts for the 2013 exhibit Early Spring: Henry Thoreau and Climate Change, and wrote and designed a mobile app introducing visitors to Thoreau.
Public History theory and perspectives also informed my Master's thesis ("Henry Thoreau's Debt to Society: A Micro Literary History") and master's fields in (1.) Early U.S. American Intellectual and Literary History and (2.) Modern Ireland.
After leaving UMass, I was offered a grant-funded position at The Emily Dickinson Museum. I work in two areas of this literary house museum: the education department, coordinating an NEH workshop on teaching Emily Dickinson in the classroom, and the curatorial department, developing the museum’s collection of Dickinson family library editions. As of Fall 2013, I am also a junior editor for The Massachusetts Review.
Johathan Haeber (2013)
Field Services Director, California Preservation Foundation, CA
My deep interest in place-based history began with a landscape architecture course and a subsequent internship with National Geographic in 2003. Upon receiving English and Geography degrees from UC Berkeley in 2004, I joined the working world as a Managing Editor for a talented group of freelance marketing writers. In my free time, I moonlighted as a freelancer and quasi-historian - nights at San Francisco State University gaining an academic background, weekends volunteering at historic sites in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 2011, our volunteer group of 11 received the George and Helen Hartzog Volunteer Group Award by the National Park Service.
In 2011, I published my first book, Grossinger's: City of Refuge and Illusion, which explored the unique microcosm of a Catskills resort in the early 20th century. History has also inspired my photography: Richard Nickel, Edward Burtynsky, and New Topographics have played a significant role. Occasionally, these photos appear on my website.
At Umass, I focused on historic preservation and was especially active in the city of Holyoke. As part of an internship at Wistariahurst Museum I developed a digital tour, available in English and Spanish, of almost 100 civic, industrial and commercial sites. The project was recognized with an award from the city of Holyoke in April 2013.
I feel privileged to have been part of the UMass Public History program, which is ideally located for my interest in 20th-century American History, particularly the landscapes of consumption in the early 20th century.
In October 2013, I accepted a position titled Field Services Director with the California Preservation Foundation. CPF is California's only statewide historic preservation nonprofit. My job involves growing the Education initiatives for the foundation and expanding its public programs. I also help connect local preservationists and organizations with the resources and knowledge that will enable them to protect their landmarks. I manage their monthly workshops and webinars, both of which provide continuing education credits for architects and planners statewide.
Lyzann Harlow (2006, 2013)
Lyzann came to the study of Public History from the department of Anthropology. Her formal internship requirement was spent as the Jeanine Rioux Intern for The Trustees of Reservations, though Lyzann later completed curatorial internships at the Berkshire Museum and Strawbery Banke Museum as well. Her dissertation, "Mind the gap: Materiality of gendered landscapes in Deerfield, Massachusetts, ca. 1870--ca. 1920," explored the word of a community of historic preservation activists in Deerfield, Massachusetts, investigating not only the forces that shaped their work but the forces that contributed to their marginalization in the early twentieth century. Today Lyzann works as a historian and artifact analyst at Archaeological Services.
Jaimie Kicklighter (2013)
I came to the UMass Public History Program all the way from Valdosta, Georgia. As a history major at Valdosta State University, I wrote an honors thesis examining the role of nostalgia in modern German film. This project introduced me to the powerful role of memory and its function in engaging the past from a present perspective. In the course of the project I also discovered the DEFA Film Library on the UMass campus and grew curious about the history program here. My interest in the field of public history grew when I began volunteering at the Valdosta State campus archives and got experience in digitization and display preparation.
While a student in the program I worked as the program assistant for the partnership with Hanckock Shaker Village. I focused my public history training on archives and continued pursuing my interest in memory. I also continued studying German history, especially the history of modern Germany and German film with Jon Olsen.
My interests in German history, education, archives, and film have followed me since my departure from UMass. I am keeping current on German history and the world of archives and helping with a local project to make census data pertaining to slavery in the state of Georgia available to researchers. In the near future I hope to pursue another degree in education or library science, or apply to get my PhD in History focusing on modern German history, specifically the rise, collapse, and eventual rebirth of the political left in the twentieth century.
Sarah Marrs (2013)
Development Coordinator, Historic Deerfield
My interest in museums has roots in a childhood filled with family vacations to historic sites, national and state parks, and museums. The summer before my junior year at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, I began working at the Titanic exhibit for the Science Museum of Minnesota. This experience solidified my decision to pursue a career in museums. Later that year I worked as an exhibit design intern for the Northfield Historical Society. I researched, wrote, fabricated, and installed an exhibit on the Carnegie Library in Northfield, MN. That summer I interned for the Washington County Historical Society, where I worked at the Warden's House Museum, giving tours and developing a coloring book designed to teach fourth graders about local history. As a senior, I worked with the Northfield History Collaborative, a project that helped community partners to collect and digitize local history in a single online database.
I came to UMass because I wanted to study traditional history as well as public history, and this program offered me the opportunity to do both. While here, I studied the sectional conflict in nineteenth-century America, a long-standing interest of mine, but I was also able to explore other interests, such as sense of place. I also had the opportunity to work on an oral history project for the Music Department. In the summer of 2012, I worked as an intern in Development at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, focusing on their use of social media. After graduation I accepted a position with Historic Deerfield's Summer Fellowship Program, and today work with the same organization in the Development Department.
Rusty Annis (2012)
Recording Engineer, Oral Historian, History Teacher
The Owner/Engineer of Shoestring Studio since 1982, Rusty returned to graduate school in 2008, completing degrees in History/Public History and Education. Applying decades of experience as a recording engineer, Rusty focused his studies on oral history. Over the course of his graduate work he contributed to oral histories of the UMass Music Department, and completed an internship digitizing materials for UMass Special Collections and Archives. In April 2014, as a part of the UMass Music Department's celebration of its 75th Anniversary, Rusty unveiled the video"University of Massachusetts UMass Music Department: A Beginning," showing selected excerpts from 35 interviews conducted by UMass History students over the last 4 years.
Erik Ingmundson (2012)
Supervisor of Interpretation, Mystic Seaport, CT
I majored in American Studies at Wheaton College. During my senior year, I struggled to formulate a plan for life after graduation. Everything changed when I attended a non-profit job fair in the spring of 2006. A representative from the Nantucket Historical Association was there, recruiting historic interpreters to work for the upcoming season. On a whim, I decided to apply for the position. I had never worked at a museum or historic site before. However, I had experience in the performing arts, had studied history academically, and thought that leading interpretive tours (and living on Nantucket no less!) would be an interesting experience.
I was hired, and spent the summer leading tours at the Whaling Museum and several other historic properties. Towards the end of the summer, I was offered a permanent position as Senior Interpreter and Schools Coordinator. This proved to be an amazing opportunity, as it introduced me to the field of historic administration. I managed a staff of 35 interpreters, developed educational programs, recruited new staff, and managed the daily operations of several historic properties, including the Whaling Museum. I loved the job, and stayed for the next four years before coming to UMass.
The UMass Public History Program was a perfect fit, because it allowed me to study twentieth-century American history (particularly the Cold War), while also doing coursework that helped prepare me for a career in historic administration. There is a great emphasis on learning both in and outside of the classroom, and a welcoming atmosphere that encourages collaboration among students.
In 2011, I collaborated with two colleagues to produce an exhibit titled "Becoming a Son of Great Barrington: W.E.B. Du Bois." The exhibit was displayed in the lobby of the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington until the spring of 2013. In the summer of 2011, I was an intern for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. I'll be working with the Curator of History and Research to help develop future exhibitions.
Currently, I'm working at the Mystic Seaport Museum as a Supervisor of Interpretation. I will be hiring, training, and evaluating the job performance of a portion of their guide staff. I'll also be developing some new initiatives to evaluate and improve the visitor experience, and make exhibits more accessible and visitor-friendly.
Emily Oswald (2012)
I have pursued my interest in museums, history, and the history of museums through a research fellowship at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium. More recently, I worked as a grant writer for the educational non-profit Facing History and Ourselves. My research interests include slavery in the United States before the Civil War and European colonialism in Africa, as well as the way contemporary Americans address, or choose not to address, the history of slavery. Museums and their histories continue to pique my curiosity.
During the first year of the program, I and two colleagues produced the exhibit "Becoming a Son of Great Barrington: W.E.B. Du Bois." The exhibit is currently on display in the lobby of the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington. In summer 2011, I interned with Richard Rabinowitz at the American History Workshop, and was awarded an ETHIR Fellowship from the UMass Amherst Special Collections and University Archives. I also created the exhibit "Come to Our Table: Twenty-Five Years of Research and Community Engagement at the University of Massachusetts Amherst" which was on display at the September 2011 conference celebrating the Public History Program's twenty-fifth anniversary.
Stephania Villar (2012)
Project Archivist, San Diego Air and Space Museum, CA
Stephania Villar received her B.A. in History from Pitzer College in California. At UMass, her academic interests were numerous, but her chosen fields were in Spanish Borderlands, World History, public memory, and perceptions of history. In the Spring of 2011, she conducted a semester long project for the Skinner Museum in South Hadley, Massachusetts, where she and two other grad students helped create a Civil War exhibit which will remain on display throughout the sesquicentennial anniversary of the conflict. In the summer of 2011, Stephania interned at the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
After graduating from the UMass Public History program, Stephania accepted a position with the San Diego Air and Space Museum as an Assistant Archivist of Special Collections, where she will be processing and prepping Special Collections for digitization, developing finding guides for greater public access, and raising awareness of the collections through social media.
Elizabeth Bradley (2012)
School Programs Educator, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY
Elizabeth Bradley received her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in History and English. At UMass, her academic interests were in U.S. religious history; folklore; American regional identities; and the intersections of public history and community activism.
Upon graduation from the public history program, Elizabeth accepted a position as School Programs Educator at Wave Hill in the Bronx. There, she works with the Environmental Educator and the Forest Project Manager on creating and delivering programming for Pre-K to high school kids.
Jessica Frankenfield (2012)
Security Communications Coordinator, Office of Information Technology, UMass - Amherst, MA
I am interested in museums for their ability to interpret history and culture to the public. I believe that objects can be particularly powerful in doing this, and my interest in material culture is rooted in that. My core interests are Early America and cultural history as well as American slavery. I am also fascinated by the ways that history is invoked over time in different ways, so historical memory and particularly the Colonial Revival are compelling subjects for me.
Before coming to UMass, I held jobs or internships at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Powel House through the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks, the Montgomery County Historical Society, and the Pearl S. Buck House.
My field work during the first year of the M.A. program included a web exhibit on Omeka about the Second Pan-African Congress, which made use of the University Special Collections and Archives' valuable holdings in the W.E.B. Du Bois papers, as well as exhibit panels for an activity in the History Workshop at Historic Deerfield on local silkworm cultivation in the 19th Century. In summer 2011, I was awarded the Elizabeth Perkins Fellowship in Museum Practice and Research at Museum of Old York in Maine. While working at Old York, I cataloged and created a finding aid for a recently donated collection, held in the museum's archives. I also assisted with research inquiries in the library.
In late 2012, I accepted a position with the UMass, Amherst Office of Information Technologies as Security Communications Coordinator.
Jessie MacLeod (2012)
Assistant Curator, Historic Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, VA
I first became interested in museums when I spent the summer after my freshman year of college working in the Furniture Study of the Yale University Art Gallery. I was already planning to be a history major, but I added material culture to my list of interests, taking several classes on American architecture and decorative arts and spending a summer as a Summer Fellow at Historic Deerfield. I also developed my love for archival research and writing while completing my senior essay on nineteenth-century American missionary children who were sent back to the U.S. to live, based on a collection of family papers at the Yale Divinity School Archives.
After graduating, I knew I wanted to continue doing history. I spent a year working at the New Haven Museum and Historical Society creating an online guide to their library's manuscript and photograph collections, as well as digitizing a large portion of their collections. I then moved down to Virginia to work as a researcher at Montpelier, the home of James and Dolley Madison, which is undergoing a massive restoration and refurnishing project. In these positions I gained valuable exposure to the world of archives and museums, seeing the challenges and excitement of the field firsthand. I discovered that I still love the process of historical research and finding ways to make history more accessible to the general public.
I chose UMass because I am interested in both traditional academic history and public history, and this program provides excellent opportunities in both areas. During the first year of the program, my field work included a women's history audio walking tour of the UMass campus for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians and an exhibit on Elizabeth Freeman, a formerly enslaved woman whose 1781 freedom suit effectively ended slavery in Massachusetts. In the summer of 2011, I interned at the Newport Historical Society, giving walking tours and curating an exhibit on samplers.
Upon graduation I accepted a position as assistant curator George Washington's Mount Vernon, where I am researching the Washingtons' furnishings, developing exhibitions for our museum, coordinating the conservation and acquisition of eighteenth-century prints, assuming the persona of a room on Twitter (@MVNewRoom), and performing a multitude of other tasks related to Mount Vernon's collection.
John Morton (2012)
PhD Candidate, Boston College, MA
I came to UMass to study early American history, and found that the study of Public History and the study of early American history worked very well together. I had already done some museum work years ago at the Astors' Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, and I found myself eager to do more. I also have an ongoing fascination with popular history, and the ways that the general public learns about history through theater, television, and the movies.
While studying at UMass I was involved in several different projects. In the spring of 2011, I collaborated with two colleagues to write a permanent exhibit for the Trustees of Reservations. This exhibit, which opened in August 2011 at the Ashley House in Sheffield, is on Elizabeth Freeman, an enslaved woman from Massachusetts who won her freedom in court. During the summer of 2011, I led a program at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington, Massachusetts, in which local teenagers studied historic interpretation and then wrote a new landscape tour for the site. In the late spring and summer of 2012, I assisted in piloting a program called "Artifact Stories" in the Amherst area. During this program my partner and I took artifacts from the Amherst History Museum to several local senior centers and assisted living facilities. There, we gave the seniors a chance to learn about and examine the artifacts, and then asked them to reflect on what sorts of ideas or memories the artifacts brought up for them.
I am currently at Boston College as a PhD candidate in the History Department.
Richard Anderson (2011)
PhD Candidate, Princeton University
Before matriculating at UMass Amherst I received a bachelor's degree in history from Northeastern Illinois University and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. I decided to pursue a degree in public history because the field provided the best opportunity to combine my training in journalism, my passion for historical scholarship, and my commitment to community engagement. The UMass Amherst certificate program offered me the flexibility to follow all of these interests. I completed the oral history track, taking courses in oral history theory and method, as well as an ethnography course in the anthropology department. As part of the track, I conducted an oral history-based study of a former commune in nearby Franklin County. I also interned with the Samuel Harrison Society in Pittsfield and worked as the public history program assistant. In addition to completing my public history coursework, I enjoyed the freedom to write a master's thesis on conservative Christianity in postwar American suburbs.
I have continued studying American urban history as a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. My foundation in public history has greatly enriched my doctoral studies. Public history informs everything from the questions I ask to the way I write. In 2012 I co-founded the Princeton Public History Initiative-a working group of graduate students and faculty dedicated to incorporating public history into the life of Princeton's history department. The contacts I cultivated at UMass have proved invaluable to me in developing the Initiative, seeking guest speakers, and securing partnerships in the region. Furthermore, one of our faculty advisors-Prof. Marni Sandweiss-served as an affiliated member of the UMass public history faculty while teaching at Amherst College. In addition to coordinating the Public History Initiative, I serve on the Graduate Student and New Professional Committee of the National Council on Public History and contribute to the NCPH blog, History@Work.
Amanda Goodheart (2011)
PhD Candidate, UMass Amherst, and School Programs Assistant, Springfield Museums
My introduction to public history came in the form of an undergraduate museum studies internship at Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. As a history and secondary education major at Salve Regina University in historic Newport, RI, I was no stranger to museums and their potential to educate and inspire students of all ages. However, after my summer by the sea, I realized I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in public history as a means of blending my interests in education, history, and museums. I've been a public historian ever since. Over the past several years I've had the great privilege of working with museums and historical institutions across New England including Mystic Seaport, The Preservation Society of Newport County, The Newport Restoration Foundation, Historic Deerfield, Strawbery Banke Museum, and most recently, the Springfield Museums. I chose the UMass Public History Program for both for its reputation of combining theory and practice as well as its picturesque location in the heart of the historic Pioneer Valley. After completing the Public History certificate at UMass, I enrolled as a PhD candidate here, and I continue to work at the Springfield Museums as School Programs Assistant coordinating field trips, outreach programs, and teacher workshops, in addition to developing new educational programs.I hope to continue my work as a public historian working to bridge the gaps between K-12 education, academia, and museums through public programming, museum education, and curriculum development.
Kayla Haveles (2011)
Education Coordinator at the American Antiquarian Society
I entered the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA trying to decide between a major in either History or English. I chose History, but always kept English close. The intertwining of these two components became the basis for my undergraduate thesis, where I examined the role the written word played in the development of the political consciousness of Northern women during the Civil War. Upon graduation I wanted to maintain a focus in history, and an internship at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA the summer before my senior year opened my eyes to all the opportunities museums offer to involve the public, from education and community outreach programs, to archives, to exhibits.
While looking for grad schools, I stumbled upon a program called Public History that actually focused on areas such as writing for all audiences and museum studies. The decision to apply to the well-established Public History program at UMass was an easy one. Here I could study the synthesis of history, literature, and culture that I found so fascinating, and learn more about how I can bring history to the public in an educational, engaging, and relevant way.
I now work as an Education Coordinator at the American Antiquarian Society and contribute to the AAS Blog, Past is Present.
Morgan Hubbard (2011)
Account Manager, BookHub
Jennifer Kleinman (2011)
Academic Advisor for Student-Athletes, Lesley University, MA
The Public History program was recommended to me by an undergraduate adviser as an option to explore my interests in museum exhibitions, archaeology, and education. While at UMass, my focus shifted from museum education to public education and I studied public and education policy as my track within the Public History program. Combined with fields in U.S. imperialism and U.S. immigration, my time at UMass has centered on understanding how U.S. history has been taught and how it shapes national memory and our concepts of American identities.
Jessica (Monti) Wall (2011)
Purchasing Coordinator, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Margo Shea (2010)
Assistant Professor, Salem State University
When I graduated from college, I wanted to change the world. I directed a program that provided housing for people with HIV and AIDS and worked to find creative funding solutions for nonprofit affordable housing for several years in central Connecticut. A passion for education and community engagement led me to become involved in service-learning and campus community partnerships. While working as service-learning coordinator at Berkshire Community College, I began taking courses in the UMass Public History program in 2002. It was fun, stimulating and challenging; the faculty were (and are) interesting and engaged scholars and public history practitioners. I ultimately entered the program full time with the intention of working on New England histories of deindustrialization. Fate had a different agenda and I found myself in Northern Ireland, a place that has been important to me for many years, documenting memorial landscapes as a Public History intern. When I finished my M.A., I decided to pursue a doctoral degree, exploring Irish history, urban history and the study of memory and historical consciousness. I got to spend a lot of time in the complicated and wonderful city of Derry, Northern Ireland, which was the subject of my dissertation, “Once Again It Happens: Collective Remembrance and Irish Identity in Catholic Derry, Northern Ireland 1896-2008.” After completing my degree, I accepted a position teaching public history at Salem State University.
Bill Allen (2009)
University of Alabama Museums, Office of Archaeological Research
Upon completion of the Public History program, I worked as Collections Technician for the Maine Historical Society, cataloging and assessing the Central Maine Power Company collection. CMP, which maintained its own museum until a recent corporate merger, donated the collection to MHS in 2002. The collection contains a little bit of everything relating to the development of the electrical power industry in Maine (and in general) during the 20th century, from a full hydro-electric generator, to early electric consumer goods such as washing machines and toasters, to meters and transmission-line equipment, to objects and ephemera relating to the internal life of the company. My job was to perform an object-level inventory, update the MHS databases, and assess the condition context of the objects with an eye towards consolidating this extensive and technical collection and shaping it to fit more fully within the Maine Historical Society's interpretive scheme.
In November of 2012, I accepted a position with the University of Alabama Museums and its Office of Archaeological Research.
Lori (Satter) Birrell (2009)
Manuscript Librarian, University of Rochester
During my two years in the Public History program at UMASS, I was able to combine my interest in history with archival work. The program offered me incredible flexibility to explore topics in library science through internships and coursework. These opportunities gave me real world experience in archives and museums, which later prepared me to enter the job market.
After earning my degree, I enrolled in a Masters of Library Science program at Simmons College, with an archives concentration. During my last semester, I interviewed and was the successful candidate for the Historical Manuscripts Librarian position at the River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester.
Since 2011, I have filled that role and curate 19th and 20th century American history and local history manuscript, and related print collections. I also participate in the department’s outreach and instruction effort to connect our collections with the university’s curriculum. I have served as the Project Manager for the Post Family Papers Digitization Project (rbsc.library.rochester.edu) that seeks to digitize and transcribe over 2,000 letters from a Rochester family in the 19th century.
My time at UMASS impressed upon me the importance of professional engagement, and I have since become a member of the Society of American Archivists, and the Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, and have taken on leadership roles in both organizations.
My interests continue to evolve, and in 2017 I will complete an EdD in Higher Education Administration. I’ve found it’s incredibly important to consider the wider landscape of libraries, and my coursework and research have afforded me that opportunity.
Na Li (Lina) (2009)
Visiting Professor at the Center for Historic Research, Institute for Advanced Humanities and Social Sciences, Chingqing University, China
Today an Assistant Professor/Research Fellow at the The Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Chongqing University, Na Li (known as Lina to her UMass community) joined the Public History program while a student in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning program. In fall 2010, her article "Urban Landscapes as Public History: The Chinese Context" appeared in The Public Historian (pp 51-61). Her 2011 dissertation "Preserving Urban Landscapes as Public History: A Qualitative Study of Kensington Market, Toronto" "incorporates collective memory as an essential construct in urban landscapes, and suggests a culturally sensitive narrative approach" to the intangible values of built environments. After graduation, Lina was affiliated with the Center for Oral History and Digital Storytelling at Concordia University; today, in her role at Chongqing University, she is working to introduce Public History practice to China.
Stephanie Pasternak (2009)
Longtime Member of the Cummington Historical Comission
Kate Preissler (2009)
Digital Media Marketing Manager, Berkshire Museum
While at UMass, I could never seem to decide exactly what to focus on. I'm very interested in environmental history, community history, historic preservation, and oral history. After exploring all of these fields, I was introduced to the concept of "cultural landscapes" which encompasses all of that and more by way of using landscape as a starting point for researching and interpreting history. Through the lens of cultural landscapes I became fascinated by how physical place influences individuals and communities and how people can leave an imprint on the places they have occupied. For several years I was Engagement Manager serving the Berkshires, Pioneer Valley, and Central Massachusetts for the Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees of Reservations is a private land trust which has been saving special places in Massachusetts for public use and enjoyment for 130 years. I oversaw "engagement" activities (a term which encompasses everything from youth programs to historic house tours to outdoor recreation opportunities to special events to visitor experience to volunteer programs...basically anything having to do with engaging people) in a region which stretches from route 495 to the New York border and which includes 5 historic homes (3 National Historic Landmarks) and around 43 sites of ecological or cultural significance. Post-economic collapse, it is even more challenging to bring people and support to historic buildings and cultural landscapes than ever before. In this position I drew upon my experiences with the Public History program at UMass to bring fresh ideas to our sites to keep them vibrant, relevant, and a place where people can feel connected to both the past and future of Massachusetts. In 2013, I accepted a position with the Berkshire Museum as the Digital Media Marketing Manager. Today I work towards connecting people to arts, culture, and to each other in ways that utilize social media, multi-media, another virtual tools.
Niki Lefebvre (2008)
Doctoral Student in American Studies, Boston University
As an undergraduate I spent my summers at Boston National Historical Park interpreting the Battle of Bunker Hill and giving tours on the U.S.S. Cassin Young, a WWII destroyer. It was a powerful experience. I was fascinated by the way in which visitors could sometimes really connect to the history of a place. When I graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 2005 I knew I wanted to work in the field of history, but I also wanted my work to have a broad, positive impact. I began working at a non-profit that promoted the study of history among high school students, but found myself drawn back to interpreting historic sites on the weekends. Like the visitors I met at Boston National Historical Park, I too valued a connection to historic places. I’m not sure what this means about my career in history yet, but as a PhD candidate at Boston University, I have lots of ideas I am eager to explore. I chose the Public History Program at UMass Amherst because of its versatility, its balance between academics and practical skills, and the opportunity it presents to explore what public history means.
Niki's dissertation topic at Boston University is "Filene's on Washington Street: Modernity, Culture, and Commercial Amusement, 1800-1940."
Mona Minor (2008)
Jeffrey Mish (2008)
John Diffley (2007)
Assistant Professor of History, Springfield Technical Community College
Kathleen Flynn Neumann (2007)
Manager of School and Interpretive Programs, Maine Historical Society
Claire Blaylock (2007)
Executive Director, HALT (Help Abolish Legal Tyranny): An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform, Inc.
I graduated from the College of Wooster in the spring of 2005, and came to UMass that fall. During my time at UMass I interned for the Massachusetts-based Trustees of Reservations (see http://www.thetrustees.org/pages/324_mission_house.cfm ), and served as a guide at three of their historic properties in western Massachusetts (the Folly at Field Farm, the Mission House in Stockbridge, and Naumkeag, the 1880s Choate estate) and also (building on experience with audio tours developed during a course-based field service project for the Emily Dickinson Museum) compiled a script for an audio tour for one of the properties. I also gained skills using GIS as a research tool through coursework at Mount Holyoke College. After graduation, I was hired by History Associates to work as an object cataloguer to work on various projects in and around the Washington, D.C. area.
In 2011 I became membership coordinator for HALT (Help Abolish Legal Tyranny): An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform, Inc. In March 2013 I was named Executive Director of that organization.
Jill Ogline Titus (2007)
Associate Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, PA
Stacie Sosinski (2007)
Jayne Armington (2006)
Senior Planner, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission
While pursuing her degree in History and Public History, Jayne pursued historic preservation, completing her internship with the Cherokee County [Georgia] Historical Society, where she completed a Historic Resource Inventory, and two National Register Historic District nominations. She decided to add a MA in Regional Planning, remaining at UMass to complete that coursework, which she finished in 2008. She also completed an internship in the Planning Department in Joliet, Illionois. After graduation she landed a job in the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission's Housing and Land Use Department; she became a Senior Planner in July 2012.
Bridget Gurtler (2006)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs and Visiting Assistant Professor, Bryn Mawr College
Meghan Holmes (2006)
Curatorial Assistant for Education, Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, VA
Kate Navarra Thibodeau (2005)
Director of Finance & Operations for Non-profit Education Organization, Seattle, WA
Heather Gianni (2004)
After completing my first year in the history master's program I realized what a unique and valuable experience the Public History program provides UMass students. I have long been especially interested in the use of technology in bringing history to life, and began working with the Center for Computer-Based Instructional Technology (CCBIT) to provide teachers and students access to digitized primary documents and online curriculum which brings resources and tools right into their classroom. I also participated in the Archeology Summer Field School held at the W.E.B. Du Bois Boyhood Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Field School provides valuable first hand experience providing public interpretation and learning archeology field techniques. It was the opportunity to receive an interdisciplinary education and work experience that made my time at UMass so rewarding.
Kristin Leahy Fontenot (2004)
Environmental Officer, Office of Environmental Planning / Historic Preservation
Kristin Leahy graduated from UMass Amherst's Public History program in 2004. Since then, her work has taken her on a rather interesting, and unexpected historic preservation path. Following Hurricane Katrina, Kristin worked with FEMA to review renovation, demolition, and restoration projects to help make preservation-minded decisions within New Orleans. After living out of a suitcase for far too long, she took the lead Historic Preservation Specialist/Cultural Resources Manager for the Army National Guard Headquarters in DC. With the Army National Guard, she worked with facilities all over the country to determine appropriate approaches to renovating buildings, developing ways to proactively engage with Tribes on their preservation concerns, and work with facilities managers responsible for managing properties listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. That work continued with the Department of the Army in San Antonio where the preservation and environmental staff were located. There she worked on critical preservation issues including building preservation, considerations for handling and maintaining Tribal sacred sites, and started engaging in similar challenges faced by environmental counterparts including considerations for endangered species, critical habitat, and how to meet the Army's mission when it sometimes seemed contradictory to preserving historic properties and endangered species. After time there, she returned to DC and FEMA as the Agency's Environmental Officer (EO) responsible for managing environmental compliance requirements of the agency nationally. Now, Kristin works with a team of professionals both at Headquarters and in FEMA's Regional Offices who are trained in environmental and historic preservation compliance concerns. Together, the team integrates the protection and enhancement of environmental, historic, and cultural resources into FEMA's mission, programs and activities; ensures that FEMA's activities and programs related to disaster response and recovery, hazard mitigation, and emergency preparedness comply with federal environmental and historic preservation laws and executive orders; and provides environmental and historic preservation technical assistance to FEMA staff, local, State and Federal partners, and grantees and subgrantees.
Jennifer Mohan (2004)
Vice President, Platform Strategy, Optimatic Media, Inc., New York, NY
Emily Fillebrowne (Briggs) Vincent (2004)
Nonprofit Organization, Bethesda, MD
Angela Goebel Bain (2003)
Curator, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL
David Cline (2003)
Professor of Public History, Virginia Tech
David Favaloro (2003)
Curator of Research, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York, NY
Erik Gilg (2003)
Editorial Director, Zenith Press, Minneapolis, MN
Kris Woll (2003)
Advisor, University Honors Program at the University of Minnesota
Abby Chandler (2002)
Professor, UMass Lowell, MA
Kristin Morris (2001)
Campbell Historic Museum, San Jose, CA
Ann Chapman (2002)
Charlie Tebbetts (2001)
High School Teacher, South Deerfield, MA
Richard Colton (2000)
Historian, National Park Service, Springfield, MA
Rich Colton entered the National Park Service as an historian hardly a month after completing a Masters in History with a Certificate in Public History from the History Department at UMASS/Amherst in May 2000. Springfield Armory National Historic Site, the museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, housing the national collection associated with the national armory production at that site of military rifles and muskets from the late 18th century until 1968, allows Richard to work in public history with an important national focus. His work is also extended to area school systems in both outreach and aiding curriculum (Richard received a Masters in Education just prior to entering the History Department). Within the museum, one of his major objectives is to bring before the public the many historical narratives of the people and times of this historic site that formed one of the earliest successful manifestations of American mechanized industrial production. As a National Park Service historian, Richard is also one of a close cadre of Park Service historians at sites throughout the nation. He recently had an industrial history of the Springfield Armory published [December 2008] as editor. The 350-page history, The Forge of Innovation, was originally a detailed study made for the NPS in 1989 by four of the best current industrial historians, Bob Gordon and Carolyn Cooper of Yale University, Pat Malone of Brown University, and Michael Raber. The volume remained at the Springfield Armory only in hard copy until Richard scanned, edited, and got Eastern National [the NPS publications and research arm] to fund publication. The volume is the most comprehensive history of the Armory for its full period of production.
Ron Lamothe (2000)
Assistant Professor of History, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA
Anne Poubeau (2000)
Education Director, Old York Historical Society, York, ME
Sandra Krein (1993)
Margaret "Peg" Hepler (1990)
Jean Petrovic (1990)
Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library
As a British citizen and one of the earliest graduates of the Public History program, I embarked on my MA following a BA (Hons) in American Studies at Manchester University , during which I spent my junior year at UMass. While doing the MA, I did two incredibly enjoyable internships - one at the University Archives and the other working on the Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony which were being edited at the University at that time. Conversations with people I worked with on these internships prompted me to apply to do an MLS and I was accepted to do one - thankfully fully funded - at SUNY-Albany. While doing the MLS I did several more internships (a key to getting a good job I think!) - one at the University Archives and one with the University Library Reference team. Very fortunately for me a job came up at the newly formed Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library just as I was looking for a permanent position. I have now been here for 13 years (quite a brief period time compared to many of my Library colleagues!) and the job has changed quite a lot in that time. Essentially though, the Centre is dedicated to promoting the American holdings of the Library (which are the best outside of the US itself) and to supporting American Studies in the United Kingdom at both the school and college level. Among a very varied remit I write guides to the Library's collections, curate exhibitions - both real and virtual, compile an annual guide to American Studies BA and MA programs in the UK , and answer readers' enquiries. The Centre has an annual lecture series and we have an on-going program of conferences and seminars. To be honest I could not have asked for a better job - and there is no way I would have got it without having done the Public History programme at UMass!