The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Samuel Redman

Associate Professor of History

Sam Redman

(413) 545-6759

Herter Hall 605

Professor “Sam” Redman studies 19th and 20th century U.S. cultural, social, and intellectual history. He received his B.A. in anthropology and history from the University of Minnesota Morris and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history since 1607 at the University of California, Berkeley. He is from Red Wing, Minnesota. 

Before graduate school, Redman worked at the Field Museum of Natural History, Science Museum of Minnesota, and the Colorado Historical Society. While at Berkeley, Redman recorded more than 60 in-depth oral history interviews and began teaching oral history methods to other students and professionals. He served as lead interviewer for the Rosie the Riveter / WWII Home Front Oral History Project and the Japanese American Confinement Sites Oral History Project, both in collaboration with the National Park Service. He also launched a new project documenting the oral history of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge, resulting in over a dozen new interviews.

His first book, Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums, was published by Harvard University Press. In 2016, Bone Rooms was named a Choice Top-25 Outstanding Academic Title and a Nature top-20 book. Smithsonian Magazine also included it in their roundup of Top History Books for 2016. Redman is also the author of Historical Research in Archives: A Practical Guide published by the American Historical Association and distributed by Oxford University Press. His writing has appeared in Smithsonian Magazine, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, El Pais, Time, and The New York Times. He served as the Visiting Scholar for the University of Michigan’s Museum Studies Program in 2019.

He is currently writing a book on the history and legacy of salvage anthropology. 

Redman enjoys hiking, fishing, baseball, and being outside with his son, Owen. When not writing or teaching in Amherst, he spends time in Northampton, New York City, and back home in Minnesota. 

Research Areas

Public history
Oral history
19th and 20th century United States history
History of museums, history of anthropology
Historical research methodology


"The Smithsonian at war: Museums in US society during World War II," Journal of the History of Collections, January 2019.

"Impossible appraisals: art, anthropology, and the limits of evaluating museum collections in the mid-twentieth century United States," Museum Review. Volume 3, Number 1. September 2018. 

"‘Have you ever been on the bridge? It has a heartbeat’: oral histories of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge, 1933-1989." Oral History. Vol. 46 No. 1. Spring 2018. 91-101.

"Behind Closed Doors: What the Piltdown Man hoax from 1912 can teach science todayThe Conversation, May 4, 2017.

"Rosie the Riveters discovered a wartime California dream," The Conversation, November 29, 2017.

Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums. Harvard University Press, 2016.

Have Anthropology Museums Become History Museums?: A Visit to Museum für Völkerkunde in Hamburg, GermanyHistory of Anthropology Newsletter 40, November 30, 2016

Kennewick Man will be reburied, but quandaries around human remains won’tThe Conversation, May 19, 2016.

Reconsidering Body Worlds: why do we still flock to exhibits of dead human beings?” The Conversation, April 8, 2016.

"Museum Histories" Backlist, April 2016.  

When Museums Rushed to Fill Their Rooms With BonesSmithsonian Magazine, March 15, 2016.

 “How Many Human Skeletons are in U.S. Museums?” History News Network, March 6, 2016.

Museum tours and the origins of museum studies: Edward W. Gifford, William R. Bascom, and the remaking of an anthropology museum,” Museum Management and Curatorship, September 15, 2015.

Reassessing Institutions of Culture, Power, and Democracy in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era,” review, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 13:2 (April 2015), pp. 277-282.

Historical Research in Archives: A Practical Guide, American Historical Association, 2013.

Courses Recently Taught

Undergraduate Courses:

Introduction to Public History
Theory and Method of Oral History
U.S. History since 1876
U.S. Between the World Wars 

Graduate Courses:

Theory and Method of Oral History
Museum and Historic Site Interpretation
Introduction to Public History