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

Tel. 413.545.1330
Fax. 413.545.6137



Current Public History Students


Evan Howard Ashford | Ph.D. Candidate| W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

My name is Evan Howard Ashford (prefer to be called Howard). I was born in Florissant, Missouri but was raised in Kosciusko, Mississippi. I attended the Kosciusko School system and graduated in 2004 as class Valedictorian (the first African American to hold that distinction since the school system integrated in 1971). I attended Mississippi State University from 2004-2010 earning my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and my Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. I graduated from Jackson State University in 2013 with a Master’s degree in History. I am currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. Du Bois African American Studies Department on the history and politics track. I am also a doctoral student in Public Policy and Administration at Walden University.

At a young age, I was fascinated by history. I began officially researching my family history at the age of 11. My goal was to find as much information as possible and piece together the puzzle that was my family’s past. Over the almost 19 year course of my research, I have been fortunate to obtain a variety of records from numerous sources that have helped me to detail over 35 African American genealogies. My work has uncovered voting records, land ownership, resistance to white violence, and social activities of African Americans in one county spanning from 1860-1940 that give a more detailed account of African American living that goes beyond the traditional historical narrative of Jim Crow. My interest in photographs has resulted in my collecting over 400 photographs depicting nearly 700 African Americans born between slavery and 1955. In 2014, I published my first book series, The Unshackled Past series which provides a detailed statistical layout of a family’s ancestry from slavery to 1940. I want to show that African Americans had their own identity that was not dictated by the unjust elements or the social constructs of the society in which they lived. I believe it is important for people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to have a different perspective of the African American experience beyond notable historical figures and generalizations of African American history.

I chose the Public History certificate program because I believed that the program would allow me to take my research to a higher level which has revolved around archiving, preservation of damaged documents and photographs, curation, and heritage interpretation. I also seek to learn other elements of public history that I have not been exposed to on an in-depth level. It is my goal to successfully merge my research with African American Studies and Public History to bring a different perspective of the African American experience in Mississippi to the general public, providing new education that can be used to enhance individuals’ understanding of the past, present, and future.

Christopher Benning | Ph.D. Candidate

I had a good sense of what I wanted to study in graduate school. I was concerned, however, that I would have to develop my own curriculum. The information related to the Public History Program on the University of Massachusetts History Department website was nothing short of an epiphany. It piqued my interest in a course of study combining theory and praxis that went beyond conventional programs in history and museum studies. Having studied at Amherst College, I was also keenly aware of the tremendous resources available through the Five College Consortium, both academically and culturally. For students of history, the Pioneer Valley is an embarrassment of riches in research opportunities and practical experience, whether archival, teaching or museum work. In terms of intellectual atmosphere and physical environment, Amherst has the cultural amenities of a cosmopolitan city without the urban hassles; it’s the best of both worlds and ideal for scholarship. Having lived in busy metropolises most of my life, I cherish Amherst’s quality of life, the accessibility of its resources, and its sense of community and place. It's the perfect place to undertake my dissertation project, a study of the Gilded Age/Progressive Era museum movement.

Peter Blackmer | Ph.D. Candidate | W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

I was born and raised in Syracuse, NY, and received my B.A. in History and M.S. Ed. from Wagner College before entering the Ph.D. program in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass, where I am in my third year in the History and Politics track and second year in the Public History graduate certificate program. My primary research interests focus on northern struggles for Black liberation with emphasis on community organizing and political activism in Harlem preceding the rebellions in 1964. In addition, I also research 19th Century African American history and politics with particular emphasis on Reconstruction, institutionalized political violence, and African American community responses.

My interest in Public History is essentially two-pronged. For my undergraduate thesis, I sought to gather oral histories of Harlem residents to produce a community-centered history of social movements in the early 1960s. I plan to hone my skills in oral and community histories through the Public History program to produce a more refined history of political activism in Harlem, centering the experiences of local people. In addition, I am currently developing an educational website to present my research findings regarding the evolution of political violence and the overthrow of Reconstruction. I plan to utilize my training in public history to effectively present this information in ways that are accessible to popular audiences and useful to students and teachers.

Shakti Castro |M.A. Candidate

Born and raised in The Bronx, New York, I received my Bachelor's degree in Media Studies and English Literature from Hunter College of the City University of New York. While still an undergraduate, I began working as a research assistant at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at CUNY, where I was able to combine my interests in history, storytelling, Postcolonial studies, and activism in order to help document the history of the Puerto Rican community in Diaspora. My work as a research assistant evolved into a key role in the Centro's latest oral history project. Having spent four years at the Center, I've been able to focus in on what I'd like my research and my activism to do; help preserve the usually marginalized voices of this community via oral history. To this end, I'm thrilled to start my Master's at UMass, and to be pursuing a graduate certificate in Public History.
As an interdisciplinary scholar, actively code switching between the academy and the community, I'm interested in learning, and teaching, inclusive, radical history to wider, more diverse audiences, especially those groups that are usually underrepresented in higher education, and other institutional spaces. For more about my oral history work and academic activism, please see my website at

Crystal Donkor | Ph.D. Candidate | W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

Learning environments that extend beyond the confines of the classroom have always been a source of great fascination for me. As a child, museum spaces were my favorite because they had a unique way of brining the past to life. As an adult, this fascination for Public History grew as I became deeply interested in historic preservation sites, particularly plantation spaces. As a PhD student in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies with a research focus in the nineteenth century, I am drawn to the living history and memory that plantation spaces evoke. My research is primarily focused on the literature of the late 19th century and how African American women writers engage the legacies of these spaces in their fiction.

My participation in the Public History program at UMass has provided me and my research with a whole new set of analytical tools with which to understand how space, place, and artifact speak to making and understanding meaning. On a much more personal level, Public History has challenged me to consider the broader impact of my own scholarship. Working with Springfield youth on creating a digital archive of their oral histories around a natural disaster during my first semester in the Public History program created a new enthusiasm within me for bringing historical methods and practice to real people.

I think the best feature of the Public History program at UMass lies in its ability to introduce students to community partners like Historic Deerfield and Historic Northampton. These spaces give in-class research a much more tangible and practical outlet. My relationship to these spaces in Massachusetts often inspires me to return to my hometown of New York City, full of large, well-known museums, and explore some lesser known, historic homes and historic sites.

Olivia Ekeh | M.A. Candidate | W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

I was born and raised in Worcester, MA. My father is from Nigeria and is from the Igbo ethnic group and my mother has Gullah/Geechee ancestry from her mother's side of the family. Inheriting these two similar and yet distinct backgrounds laid the foundation for my interests in history. As a child I would listen to older relatives tell stories about our family. As I got older my ability to place my relative's stories in the context of the history I was learning in school strengthened my love for history. While my love for history grew I also grew frustrated with the fact that the history I learned from my family was not seen as significant to include in the public school history curriculum. Then and there I made it my goal to study Black history and share that knowledge however I could. For my history seminar on Urban America, I decided to write a paper on the Black neighborhood of my hometown, which was ultimately torn down as a part of "urban renewal." For my paper I relied on mostly pre-recorded testimonials and interviews to learn exactly how self sufficient this neighborhood was. Unbeknownst to me, I had an interest in public history given my interest in oral history. When I began my doctorate in the Afro-Am department, my first year advisor Dr. Morrison suggested I look in to the public history certificate given my particular set of interests. I chose to move forward with the certificate because my research has moved me into the arena of memory studies. Given there is not much work done on the memory of Black Americans of the mid 20th century, I anticipate this program will afford me a foundation that will ensure I have all the tools necessary to conduct my research.

Erica Fagen | Ph.D. Candidate

I am originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and there I completed my BA (Honours) in History at Concordia University. I received my MA in Public History at Carleton University (Ottawa) in June 2012. My research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century Germany, the Holocaust, public and digital history, photography, and digital humanities. My PhD committee includes Jon Olsen, Andrew Donson, James Young, and Jennifer Evans (Carleton University).

I first became interested in the study of public history at Concordia University, and since then I was fortunate to work on several public history initiatives, including the Montreal Life Stories project (Concordia University), the YM-YWHA (Young Men's Young Women's Hebrew Association) Archive Project, (Jewish Public Library Archives, Montreal), the Douglas Cardinal Archive Project (Carleton University), and Hate 2.0: Combating Right-Wing Extremism in the Age of Social Technology (Carleton University). During this past academic year, I was a presenter on a panel entitled “Selfies, Tweets, and Likes: Social Media and its Role in Historical Memory,” at the NCPH Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. 

My dissertation looks at Holocaust memory on social media sites such as Instagram and Flickr, and I look at how people portray their visits to former concentration camps including Dachau, Neuengamme, Sachsenhausen, and Auschwitz on these social media platforms.

You can follow me on Twitter at @erfagen or take a look on my website,

Katherine Fecteau | M.A. Candidate

I was born and raised in Portland, Maine and graduated from Colby College in 2013.  As an undergrad, I planned to pursue a career in archaeology and thus earned my BA in anthropology.  Additionally, I spent two summers working on the Jamestown Rediscovery Project’s James Fort excavations.  While there, I had the privilege of digging in the church where Pocahontas married John Rolfe and the cellar where the staff archaeologists discovered Jane’s cannibalized skeletal remains.  Since graduating, my career aspirations have shifted slightly from archaeology to museum studies and public history.  My time at Jamestown brought history to life for me, and I hope to give other people the chance to experience the tangibility, applicability, and excitement of history as I did.  In keeping with this goal, I want to design exhibits and educational opportunities that allow other people to interact with the past in a way that resonates with their modern lives.

My research interests include social history, material culture, and personal accounts from the American Revolution.  As an undergrad, I focused my research on individual experiences of important events, specifically examining the journey of three Colby College students through the course of World War I.  I plan to continue this type of research in my graduate studies, exploring the significance of untold stories in light of the greater historic picture.

Kate Freedman | Ph.D. Candidate

I came to UMass in 2009, after completing a BA in History at Hampshire College (2004) and an MLIS at the University of Rhode Island (2007). After completing my MA in History, with a certificate in Public History, in 2009, I stayed on at UMass to pursue my doctorate.

My interests are antislavery; religion, race, revolution, and movements for social change in the Early Modern Atlantic world, finding ways to use new media to help bring historical knowledge to a broader population. In my research, I seek to illuminate how tensions between morality and economics shaped the Quakers' relationship to slavery in the Anglo-Atlantic world.

In addition to being a doctoral student in the history department, I am also the Undergraduate Education Librarian at UMass. In my work, I help faculty and graduate students teach undergraduates access, find, and evaluate the information that the use in both their scholarly and non-scholarly lives.


Rose Gallenberger |M.A. Candidate

I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from Wisconsin Lutheran College, a small, private liberal arts college in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  As I applied for graduate school, I focused on applying to programs on the east coast because of my interest in Early American History.  The University of Massachusetts, Amherst drew my attention because of the Five College Consortium, its relationship with various museums and archives in the New England area, and the well established Public History Program.

My interest in public history began my freshman year of college when I spoke to my undergraduate advisor about my aspiration to work at Colonial Williamsburg.  He told me I would want to obtain my Master’s degree with a focus on public history.  From that revelation, I took it upon myself to complete four internships:  two at local historical societies, one working with Wisconsin Lutheran College’s archive of photographs, and one at Old Sturbridge Village.  My internship at Old Sturbridge Village as an interpreter had the greatest impact on my professional development.  Interacting with the public proved very rewarding in addition to learning about a living history museum.  As a recipient of a Hyde Scholarship, I hope to gain more experience at a living history museum, but from a research perspective.  Beyond graduate school, it is still my ultimate dream to work at Colonial Williamsburg or another living history museum reflecting seventeenth or eighteenth century American life.

As an undergraduate, I minored in German, which has influenced my research interests.  I wrote my undergraduate history thesis on the German auxiliary troops in the American Revolution, and for my Master’s thesis I will examine the German American experience in the American Revolution.  My interests outside the world of academia reflect my interest in early American and living history.  I reenact the Revolutionary War as a soldier, for which I hand sew eighteenth century clothing.  Additionally, I enjoy spinning wool, knitting, and cooking eighteenth century foods, speaking in German, and listening to instrumental music, including fife and drums.

Andrew Grim | Ph.D. Student

I graduated from UNC-Asherville in the Spring of 2012 with a Bachelor's in History and Political Science. While there I conducted research on the history of urban renewal in Asherville. This project, for which I relied in large part on oral histories, introduced me to the study of place-based history and memory. My interest in public history grew from there.

As a Master's student at UMass I continued my study of twentieth century US urban history, focusing particularly on issues related to land use and the intersection of race and public policy.

My primary focus in the public history program has been writing history for a public audience. I gained valuable experience in this area during the summer of 2013 when I served as editorial intern with Yankee Magazine in Dublin, New Hampshire. My internship with Yankee provided me with insight into the inner working of a popular publication and my experience in compiling several short pieces on New England history allowed me to experiment with writing for a non-academic audience.

In the public history program I have also worked with digital history, collaborating with others to design an app for a historic walking tour in Amherst. Going forward I plan to continue to incorporate digital media and material culture analysis into my research on American urban history. My time in the public history program at UMass has allowed me to develop a diverse set of analytical tools to apply to my work.

Michael Holmes | M.A. Candidate

Hi everyone! My name is Michael Holmes and I am second year Masters student in the Public History Program. I attended UMass Amherst for my undergraduate education, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor in the Arts of History. During my undergraduate studies, my interests focused primarily on U.S. History from Early Colonial America up to the Gilded Age at the turn of the 20th century.

When I graduated in 2010, I found myself drawn to the National Park Service. I started out as a volunteer at Minute Man National Historical Park and later became a Park Ranger at the site. Afterwards I applied for more park ranger jobs through the federal government and landed a position in Juneau, Alaska. During the summers of 2011 and 2012, I worked as a Seasonal Park Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. I gave interpretive talks about the glacier, local wildlife, and other fascinating aspects about Southeast Alaska.

After working for the Park Service I decided to return to graduate school in order to further my education, develop new skills, and enhance my understanding of what it means to serve with and for the public. I knew from my previous academic studies that the UMass Amherst History Department and the Public History Program had strong reputations for their faculty and for the quality of their education and hands-on experience.

My current academic interests include Public History, 18th and 19th century U.S. History, the history of U.S. National Parks and Conservation, world parks, Native American studies, and Protected Areas with and for Indigenous Peoples. In summer 2013 I completed an internship with Historic Newton. It is my hope to graduate with a Masters Degree in Public History. With the knowledge and experience that comes with this Degree, I hope to continue my service as a Park Ranger with and for all of the people of the United States of America and perhaps, someday, world wide.

Felicia Jamison | Ph.D. Candidate

I received my B.A. in Spanish from Mercer University in 2007 and my M.A. in Africana Studies from Morgan State University in 2010.  I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in History.  I’ve always been aware of Public History but I did not realize that it could be useful to my aims as a historian until recently.  I am currently the summer intern at the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site in Great Barrington, MA.  As I give tours of the Du Bois Boyhood Homesite, I am able to further contextualize the prevalence of slavery in New England, the significance of landownership for 19th century African Americans in the rural North, and the importance of democracy for all citizens in the 20th century.  I’ve discovered a number of things during the internship:  1) Public History is similar to Community Outreach, with which I am very familiar, and 2) I can use Public History to further my goal of teaching others the importance of understanding U.S. History in its totality, incorporating narratives of race, gender, and class into the popular progressive narrative. 

My dissertation focuses on an African American community in Liberty County, Georgia using what I term “Geechee grassroots organizing” to register and vote in the 1946 Democratic Primaries.    Following graduate school, I seek to work as a community scholar-activist.

Deborah Kallman | M.A. Candidate

I have taken a somewhat non-traditional route to UMass. I am returning to school following a career in the finance and accounting fields. Having spent much of my professional life in higher education financial administration, I recognize the transformative power of education. Now, I am thrilled to pursue my personal dream of studying history. I was initially drawn to UMass because of its highly regarded Public History program. Public historians play an important role in making history and historical sites approachable to the general public. My own passion for history was ignited by visiting many of the historic sites in New England. Since my first visit to campus, I have felt part of the UMass history community and I continue to be impressed not only with the UMass faculty and scholarship, but the vast resources that are available through the Five College Consortium. In addition to the field of Public History, I study modern European history and Modern U.S. history. 

I am now in my second year of study. This past summer I completed an internship at The Mount—Edith Wharton’s former residence in western Massachusetts. I applied what I learned in the classroom to the professional practice of public history and this internship further supported my interest in education as I wrote lesson units for two of The Mount’s onsite school programs and adapted a physical exhibit to an online format. This practicum reinforced my belief in the transformative power of education and that, indeed, education does not only occur in a formal classroom setting. I am currently serving as the Business Manager at The Mount.

My research interest is situated within the Progressive era and specifically to the study of a utopian farm in West Newbury, Massachusetts.

Kathleen Mahoney | M.A. Candidate

I completed my B.A. in History at Boston College in 2009 where my senior honors thesis looked at representations of black culture in Jazz Age France. I chose the UMass Public History program both for its academic rigor and for the opportunity to develop the professional skills necessary to do historical work outside of the classroom. As a Master’s student, I am completing coursework in archives while also continuing to pursue my interests in 20th century urban history and the history of American popular culture. In the summer of 2015, I am thrilled to gain firsthand experience doing archival work with internships with the WGBH Media Library and Archives and with the documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. Outside of school, I spend my time playing music and volunteering at Girls Rock Camp Boston.

Chelsea Miller| M.A. Candidate

I completed a B.A. in History and Environmental Studies at Mount Holyoke College. As an undergraduate, I studied a combination of medieval history, environmental history, and art history. Eventually I realized I was interested in histories of things, how we make sense of old things, and how old things can simultaneously become art objects and historical artifacts.

Currently, my fields of interest include museum studies, U.S. history, and global history. I'm also interested in digital history, communications, and social justice.. During the summer of 2015, I served as a graduate fellow at Hampshire College’s Institute for Curatorial Practice, where I led a curating team in creating an online art exhibition, titled BODY [IN/AS] LANDSCAPE. During the 2015-16 academic year, I am working as an intern for ICP developing an online exhibition of textiles in the Five College Museums’ collections. Follow me on Twitter at @mille24c.

Chelse currently serves as the History Communications Assistant. You can contact her at

Gregg Mitchell |M.A. Candidate

I graduated from Westfield State University in the Spring of 2012 with my B.S.E. and Initial Licensure in Elementary Education.  I have worked in Holyoke, MA for the past four years in various educational capacities including classroom teacher, after-school program instructor, and student mentor in grades K-12.

In the Fall of 2013, I pursued my B.A. in History at UMass Amherst.  During this time, I worked with several local historical institutions in the area on a variety of projects.  I was an archival assistant intern at the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA, in which I helped re-design and implement their Immigration Experience curriculum about the city of Holyoke.  In addition, I conducted research for a community organization in Holyoke called Nueva Esperanza.  I worked with this group to create information panels on various aspects of Holyoke, Puerto Rican culture, and important political issues for urban communities.  Also, I designed a curriculum for teaching a unit using these panels.  With this internship opportunities and working with Professor Jon Olsen to develop a digital walking tour for the town of Amherst, MA, I developed a strong passion for making history accessible to the public.

Combining my skills as an educator with my extensive knowledge of history influenced my decision to seek an advanced degree in the field of Public History.  In the Public History program at UMass Amherst, I am interested in learning more about how to interpret local histories for communities, with particular focus in using museums and archives to achieve this goal.

Selena Moon | M.A. Candidate

I graduated with my Bachelor's in History from Smith College in 2009 with a concentration in women's history. During my sophomore year, I took an American Studies course called "The Narratives of Internment" about the Japanese-American internment. My project for that class was researching bi-racial internees and bi-racial couples, after reading Jeanne Wakatsuki-Houston's "Farewell to Manzanar" and finding a reference to an African-American woman who had accompanied her husband there. My seminar paper dovetailed from that to discussing Japanese and Japanese-Americans at Smith. I became obsessed with my project and realized how much I enjoyed research and writing.
Several years after graduating, I found myself drifting back toward my research interests when I began reading more internee autobiographies. I was fascinated by the personal connections many of the internees shared, including names of those I had found in the Smith archives. As I researched other aspects of the internment, I learned about the array of books written about Japanese-American history, from the long history of Japanese immigration to the psychological and economic impact of the interment. What started as a hobby of trying to connect the internees through their shared personal and professional experiences blossomed and I decided to continue my study of history and learn how to write for the public.
I knew that I wanted to return to the east coast (I was home in Minnesota at the time) I was thrilled to discover the writing track of the Public History Program at UMass. My main focus is Asian-American history and I am eager to discover other interests as I pursue my degree.

Kelli Morgan | Ph.D. Candidate | W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

Originally from Detroit, MI., Kelli Morgan earned her B.A. in Africana Studies at Wayne State University in 2006. With profound interests in African American conceptualizations of self-image, Kelli is a doctoral candidate in the W.E.B. Du Bois Dept. of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. As an analyst of visual imagery, she examines the ways in which people construct visual discourses, conceptualize images, and sometimes resist these discourses. Her interdisciplinary research concentrates on African American visual culture, linking Art History, Women’s Studies, African American History, and Museum Studies to analyze the complex ways that Black women artists visualize, represent, and reappropriate images of minority women to challenge mainstream visual discourses concerning beauty and sexuality. Ms. Morgan is a very diligent scholar whose career is committed to creating stimulating and culturally sensitive educational opportunities for students and public audiences alike through innovative uses of minority-produced visual culture and the museum gallery. Ms. Morgan is a 2014-2015 Ford Dissertation fellow and formerly the Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in African American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Amanda Goodheart Parks | Ph.D. Candidate

My introduction to public history came in the form of an undergraduate 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 privilege of working at museums 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 its reputation of combining theory and practice, as well as its picturesque location in the heart of the historic Pioneer Valley. I am now pursuing a Ph.D. at UMass. After graduate school, 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.

Sara Patton | M.A. Candidate

Born in Colorado, I attended Carleton College in Minnesota and graduated in 2010. Determined to avoid corporate America and the classroom, yet still use my history degree, I began working as an intern for the National Park Service. The National Park Service has taken me from Massachusetts to California and back again. Along the way, I have interpreted the stories of Japanese-American confinement, landscape architects, explorers, poets and presidents. Through all of these different places and stories, I have always been most interested in questions of memory. Why do we remember these individuals and their stories? How do we pass memory from generation to generation? How can learning history help create a sense of shared past and collective belonging? And, how can the National Park Service live up to its responsibility to engage the public in history while incorporating recent scholarship and acknowledging how National Park Service management shapes historic places? I look forward to engaging more deeply in these questions as I pursue my MA at UMass. Outside of history, I enjoy dressage, hiking, cross country skiing, running, tea and board games.

Sandra Perot | Ph.D. Candidate

I came to UMass, Amherst for a Master's Degree in History because of the Public History program. The focus here on the importance of landscape and community allows public history students to visualize history and, more importantly, help the public visualize history as well. With an MA in English Literature and teaching from San Jose State University, and an AB in English from Princeton University, I spent several years teaching high school English and American Literature, though I've always incorporated a cultural approach to teaching literature. After becoming involved as a guide at the Emily Dickinson Museum here in Amherst, I wanted to discover what makes museums work and how to make them successful. Public History, for me, is the perfect blend of history, culture, and literature. Since then I have worked both at local museums and internationally. I spent a summer as an educational intern at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK; conducted an extensive inventory of material culture at The Evergreens, part of the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst; and worked both as a guide and as staff support at the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in The Netherlands. My focus currently at UMass is in examining transatlantic influences throughout the Anglophone world, particularly the way in which 17th- and 18th-century women interacted with, experienced and examined their surroundings as they moved from place to place.

Julie Peterson | M.A. Candidate

As an undergraduate, I studied the built environment in order to understand how the actions of people throughout history have impacted the physical environment, the political landscape, and the cultural milieu of the United States, particularly in the post-war period.  My studies at UMass have expanded to include the twentieth-century United States as an empire, social justice issues—particularly the rise of the prison-industrial complex and mass incarceration—and the cultural and political interchange between the United States and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.  Through my study of public history, I seek to find ways that museums and historic sites can encourage the public to think about the society we live in within a historical context, and through oral history, to tell the stories of those whose voices are typically silenced.  During the summer of 2015, as a recipient of one of the UMass Public History program’s Hyde Fellowships, I completed an internship at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA.  While there, I helped develop an exhibit for 2016 about the contemporary U.S. criminal justice system.  When I’m not doing history, I can be found running, listening to podcasts, practicing guitar, doing the NY Times crossword puzzle, drinking craft beer (especially from my home state of Colorado), and having culinary adventures!  Follow me on Twitter at @juliegpeterson

Julie is currently the Public History Program Assistant. You can contact her at

Rebekkah Rubin | M.A. Candidate

Originally from Canton, Ohio, I graduated from Oberlin College in 2013 with a B.A. in History and a minor in English. While at Oberlin, I explored my interests in history and education that ultimately led to my passion for public history. I taught a semester-long interdisciplinary class on the works of P.G. Wodehouse. I also worked as a Writing Associate, assisting students in history and English classes with conceptualizing and writing papers. After graduating, I worked as a costumed historical interpreter at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor living history museum, where I perfected my technique for baking pies and other historical recipes in a wood stove. I also created history educational programming for elementary-aged children at the Madison Children’s Museum in Madison, Wisconsin. Most recently, I served as a Volunteer Coordinator for an elementary school in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where I helped match at-risk students with community volunteers for literacy tutoring sessions.

My interactions with the public in these diverse educational settings cemented my desire for a career in public history. I am interested in ways to make history accessible and interesting for all audiences, notably through museums and popular history books. I am also particularly interested in 19th-century American and British social and cultural history, food history, women’s history, and material culture. When I’m not visiting museums or reading Victorian literature, I enjoy taking bicycle rides and baking vegan desserts.

Camesha Scruggs | Ph.D. Student

My interest in history began with listening to anecdotes from my grandparents, great grandparents and community elders regarding their experiences during the civil rights movement in north Texas. This desire to “tell people’s stories” is what motivates me to make history palatable for public consumption.

My introductory public history experience came as an intern in the Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program for the Student Conservation Association.  I compiled research and created an information repository for interpretive staff and site bulletins titled, “Hired Girl” and “Springfield Faith Communities Site” for park visitors at the Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois.

Currently, I am an executive board member with the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, a national organization devoted to interpreting women’s history at historical sites.  Also, I participate with a group of historians that work to make historical presentations to various communities.

Natalie Sherif | M.A. Candidate

When I was thirteen years old, I desperately wanted Abigail Chase’s job from National Treasure -- National Archives and Records Administration archivist by day, adventurous history hunter by night. Now that I am in UMass’ Public History program, I can say that my ambitions have shifted from the archives to the recording studio. At UMass, I am studying oral history theory and methodology in the hopes of releasing my inner Studs Terkel and using the oral histories I and others conduct to inform my academic research.

As an undergraduate at Gettysburg College, I planted myself firmly in early American history by studying both Lenni Lenape acculturation into western culture and an 1859 Supreme Court Case, Ableman v. Booth, each on a separate occasion. While at Gettysburg, I also flirted with memory studies and did research on how Great War prisoners of war remember their war experience and did research on how one Holocaust survivor’s memoir confronted and justified her camp experience. My work with memory studies propelled me into the twenty-first century where I am currently studying LGBT and sexuality history in America and Britain. My Masters thesis will examine domestic violence in queer relationships which will be a departure point for further study on the prevalence of violence within the LGBT community.

During the summer of 2015, I worked as a seasonal Park Ranger at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park where I led programs for middle school students on John Brown and leadership. I also participated in Harpers Ferry NHP’s Theatre in the Park program. Additionally, I completed my UMass summer practicum at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH). At NMAH, I worked in the Division of Medicine and Science primarily writing object descriptions for an unaccessioned veterinary collection.
When I am not studying history, I can be found wandering the streets of Northampton, going on a self-guided blueberry tour of the local farm stands (seasonally, of course), antiquing, walking my dog, Rain, reading P.G. Wodehouse, horseback riding, watching Netflix, or daydreaming about Scotland.

Sean Smeland | M.A. Candidate

I am a master's degree student in the public history program, where I study the history of science, technology, and medicine, as well as American and European cultural history, counter-cultural history, and military history.  I was drawn to public history because many of the questions and struggles that animate these historical subjects also sit at the core of contemporary issues facing communities and societies today.  As people work to make sense of the present and make sensible choices about the future, public history has a critical role to play – deploying the past to help people to contextualize the present, providing physical and intellectual spaces where they can engage in constructive dialogue with each other and with themselves, and facilitating partnerships within and between communities.

My current projects include research and interpretive planning for public exhibits about centers of innovation in nineteenth-century American gun manufacturing, research for a public exhibit on the local history of incarceration in Hampshire County, and research on the movement of knowledge between biologists and the public regarding so-called "scientific racism."  I am also in the early stages of a book, written for general audiences, about music and musicians from the 1960s to the 1990s coming to grips with the Vietnam War.  Past projects include technical groundwork for an archive and exhibit of the lived experiences of UMass military veterans, as well as oral history research on the 2001 anthrax attacks in New York and Florida.

My previous studies include a bachelor's degree in biology, a master's degree in national security and foreign policy, and partial doctoral work in international relations and security studies.  I have also taught at both the high school and collegiate levels.  Outside of work, I can be found at poetry workshops, rock concerts, Red Sox games, and west coast swing events.

Christopher Templin | M.S. Candidate | Design & Historic Preservation

I have always been interested in history. As a kid my mother would take us to all kinds of museums, parks and programs. I always loved it when we went to a historical site. It was during my early adolescence that I started historical reenacting with my older brother. We started doing Civil War, but both us were more interested in the colonial wars and moved to French and Indian and Revolutionary wars after a few years. During high school I had the privilege to volunteer at our local battlefield park, Saratoga National Historic Park. It was during this time that I decided I wanted to do something with history for my career. I completed an A.A. at Adirondack Community College and was able to take part in some of the archaeological field schools offered through the college. I followed this with a B.A. in History with a concentration in Education. It was at this time that I had the pleasure of becoming a National Park Service Ranger. I worked mainly in one park, but had many details working in other historic sites throughout the Northeast. All the while I worked for NPS I was designing exhibits and educational programs for both the NPS and my reenacting groups.

While working as an NPS Ranger I pursued a M.S. in Education with a concentration in US History. After my term with the NPS was over I taught in both public and private high schools and decided that the “real” teaching of history was as my mother always said, “out of school”. As such I continued working contract positions with numerous museums and historic sites such as Rogers Island Historic Site where I developed and built their three main exhibits. Because of this diverse back ground I have been able to work as a Historical Advisor for several programs for both PBS and the History Channel. All the while I was working contract positions I was looking for a more permanent position in the museum education or curation fields. When not working in the historical education field I have been working for a family firm, Lindop Carpentry of Malta, NY that does historic home renovation and restoration. It was while working on a great old house in Coxsackie, NY that I began to think about historic structure preservation. Through a family connection I learned about the Masters in Architecture and Design: Historic Preservation Program at UMass and Hancock Shaker Village. Once I heard about the program I was interested. After Professor Max Page told me about the possibility of getting a certificate in public history as well I was sold. I joined the program in spring 2014 and am having a blast getting to research and “play” in so many different historic structures! The professors and students come from such diverse backgrounds; we each bring a different point of view to our work and it is great to collaborate with so many wonderful people. This program and certificate will help me bring a wide variety of skills to museums to help them create the best interpretive experience possible. Vivat in historicis!

Amanda Tewes | Ph.D. Candidate

For me, public history means bringing history to the public in easily-digestible but thought-provoking ways.  I love the challenge of collaboration and creativity that public history provides.  I am also drawn to public history because it inspires activism and community in ways that few other fields can.

I have a strong background in oral history, archives, and museum studies, and I hope to continue these interests here at UMass!  I am especially interested in oral history and material/visual culture as it relates to memory and nostalgia.

Here are some examples of my recent work:

Danping Wang | M.A. Candidate

I graduated from Zhejiang University, China this June with a bachelor degree in History and a second major certificate in German Language Study. My first encounter with the concept of public history was in my junior year of undergraduate study and I was so fascinated by the idea of sharing authority and working with communities. Therefore I applied to be the volunteer for the first Chinese national faculty training on public history during that summer. Lucky enough I met Professor David Glassberg in the session and was determined to study public history in graduate school.

Before I came to this program, I worked as the assistant for professors who are doing oral history in rural villages in Zhejiang province for the past three summers and I also did two documentary projects. One is on the topic of the great famine from 1958 to 1961 and the other is about the life of left-behind children in Chinese mountain villages. Right now what really catches my attention is historic preservation. China has done badly in historic preservation in comparison with the United States and there is a lot to be improved. I am now working as an intern for Lincoln-Sunset Local Historical District Committee whose mission is to designate a new local historical district in Amherst so as to better protect the property and the local community.

Charles Weisenberger| Ph.D. Student

Before entering college, I had already developed a passion for history, but I was uncertain how to translate that passion into a career.  As an undergraduate at Washington College, I found the solution to my dilemma: public history.  Through internships with the Moravian Historical Society, the C.V. Starr Center Oral History Program, and the Maryland Historical Society, I gained invaluable experience working with public history.  After graduation, I built on that experience as a researcher in the Legacy of Slavery Department at the Maryland State Archives where I wrote biographical case studies of African Americans during the War of 1812. To complete the case studies, I had the opportunity to conduct research at other repositories including the British National Archives in London as well as National Archives locations in Philadelphia, College Park, and Washington D.C. The project cemented my appreciation not only for the lessons of the past, but also for the value of communicating those lessons to the broader public. UMass offers the perfect environment for me to pursue my combined interest in traditional scholarly history and public history. The Pioneer Valley features a wealth of resources for historians, and the public history curriculum will provide me with a broader knowledge base than either a typical museum studies or library science program.