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UMass Sesquicentennial

University of Massachusetts Amherst

History Department

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Contact us:

History Dept., Herter Hall Room 612
University of Massachusetts
161 Presidents Drive
Amherst, MA 01003-9312

Tel. 413.545.1330
Fax. 413.545.6137


Public History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst


Massachusetts boasts a rich network of museums, archives, historical societies, documentary filmmakers, and historic preservation agencies, as well as one of the top public research universities in the nation. Since 1986, the Public History Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has provided a vital link between the University and the Commonwealth's wide variety of institutions that preserve and communicate history to the public.

The mission of the UMass Public History Program is:

  • To train graduate students to work on historical projects with a broad range of audiences and institutions, as well as to prepare them for entry level positions in museums, archives, historic preservation agencies and many other places that engage the insights and methods of historians.
  • To provide historical services for area institutions and for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • To advance, through research, hands-on fieldwork, and scholarship both the theory and method that informs and shapes public history practice, as well as a range of state and federal agencies.

Past and present Public History Program Assistants at the National Council on Public History 2016 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Beyond the borders of Massachusetts, the Public History Program has been active at national and international levels.  Our students and faculty have been engaged in projects as close to home as Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts, and as far afield as Germany, Ireland, Lebanon, and Argentina.

The graduate certificate in Public History prepares graduate students for a variety of positions in a range of settings.  Course offerings regularly include: Introduction to Public History, Material Culture, Digital History, Oral History, Preservation Theory, Museum and Historic Site Interpretation, and Landscape and Memory.

Places where alumni are currently employed include: the National Archives, the National Park Service, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City, the Macmillan Group, George Washington's Mount Vernon, the Civil War Institute, and the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Internship sites in recent years have included: the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations, Colonial Williamsburg (VA), Monadnock Media, the Concord Museum, the Minneapolis Museum of Art, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (NY) and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.