Public History at UMass 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.
Public History Mission
- To train graduate students to work on historical projects with a broad range of audiences and institutions, and to prepare them for careers in museums, archives, historic preservation agencies, policy centers, community organizations 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 methods that inform and shape public history practice.
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, Writing History, History Communication, and Landscape and Memory.
Over the years, UMass Public History has developed extensive partnerships to enhance public history work and education in the community.
Places where alumni are 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, Oxford University Press, Historic Deerfield, SUNY Press, the Center for Education Policy Reseach (Harvard University), the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations, Mystic Seaport Museum and the Civil War Institute. Internship sites in recent years have included the W.E.B. Du Bois Homesite, Mass Humanities, the Boston Furniture Archive, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, Colonial Williamsburg (VA), Monadnock Media, the Concord Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (NY) and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
If you are thinking about applying to graduate programs in Public History, be sure to check out the National Council on Public History's booklet The Public History Navigator: How to Choose and Thrive in a Graduate Public History Program.