Public History Alumni
Yelana Sims (PhD, 2023)
Yalena graduated with a PhD in Afro-American Studies and Graduate Certificate in Public History in September 2023. Her dissertation focused on Black female sex workers’ historic interactions and experiences with technology and how these interactions facilitated agency and entrepreneurship-minded action. Throughout her time as a graduate student, she placed an emphasis on the historical acknowledgment of marginalized groups, specifically women of color, and their experiences in the United States. When not researching or writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and hand embroidery.
Maya Gonzales (MA, 2023) Bibliography Fellow, Yiddish Book Center (Amherst, MA)
Maya graduated with an MA in History and Certificate in Public History in May 2023. Originally from San Diego, California, she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz graduating in 2021 with a B.A. in Jewish Studies and Intensive History. Throughout her academic career, Maya has cultivated a passion for studying Holocaust memory. Her senior thesis, titled "Remember Us: Holocaust Representation in European-Jewish Émigré Film, 1942-1944," explored the intersections of identity and representation in the three earliest cases of Holocaust film in Hollywood. This project evolved into a public-facing website that strengthened her digital history and public history skills. Maya has worked at various Holocaust-related institutions, including the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles, the Jewish Family and Children's Services Holocaust Center, and the Simon Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Maya's MA thesis, titled, "Imagining the 'Day of Reckoning': Public Displays of Memory and Expectation by Ben Hecht and Stephen Wise," explored performance activism by American Jews during the Holocaust.
In September 2023, Maya began a year-long Bibliography Fellowship at the Yiddish Book Center as the Harriett and Seymour Shapiro Fellow. She is supporting their new core exhibition, giving public tours, organizing book donations and sales, and writing about all things Yiddish. Keep up with her at maya-gonzalez.com.
Allison Smith (MA, 2022) Public Programs & Events Associate at Mystic Seaport Museum (Mystic, CT)
Allison received her Masters Degree and Public History Certificate in May 2022. Her research focus was in the History of New England and Comparative Women’s History, with a focus on transatlantic social movements. During her time at UMass Amherst she diversified her understanding of public history practice and how museums can better serve their communities.
Allison's Master's Thesis explored how historic houses can align with social justice issues and creative programming to inspire relevancy in their community. She used Casey Farm as an example of this endeavor and specifically discussed the relationship between the food movement and museums. During her time at UMass she participated in the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program, was a Digital Resource Management Intern at Historic New England, and worked as the Public History Assistant in the Department. She currently works at Mystic Seaport Museum as a Public Programs & Events Associate and is on the social media committee for the Dublin Seminar of New England Folklife.
Devon King (MA, 2022) Preservation Planner at VHB (Watertown, MA)
Devon received his undergraduate degree at UMass Amherst, where he wrote his senior thesis “Preserving History, Reviving Cities: The Heritage State Parks of Massachusetts,” surveying the Heritage State Parks system established by Massachusetts in the 1970s and 1980s. Following graduation, he completed a fellowship with the Newport Historical Society where he produced an essay published in the Society’s journal investigating the urban renewal projects which produced America’s Cup Avenue and Newport’s modern, historical downtown. Devon then worked for a year as an Architectural Historian at McGinley, Kalsow, and Associates, Inc., a preservation architecture firm located outside Boston.
In fall 2019, Devon returned to UMass to pursue his master’s degree and Public History certificate, with a focus on studying post-war built environment and cultural landscapes in New England. Supplementing his studies with a Historic Preservation Certificate from the Boston Architectural College, Devon gained both a technical understanding of the preservation field as well as a broadened understanding of the cultural, social, and economic forces that influenced the development of universities and major cities following World War II. While finishing his degree in the summer and fall of 2021, Devon worked with the National Park Service’s Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation where he oversaw the completion of vital landscape preservation planning documentation for Fairsted, the home and office of celebrated landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. and the Olmsted Brothers design firm. Beginning in November 2021, Devon worked as a Associate Architectural Historian with the Public Archaeology Laboratory, Inc. in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
In November 2022, Devon accepted a role as a Preservation Planner at VHB in Watertown, Massachusetts.
Alexa Harrington (MA, 2021) 5th Grade EIA/Social Studies Teacher, Greenfield Middle School and Museum Educator, Old Sturbridge Village
Alexa recieved her B.A. from Franklin Pierce University. While at UMass Amherst, Alexa studied Public History, Comparative Gender History, and Early American History. She now works at Greenfield Middle School and Old Sturbridge Village.
Helen Kyriakoudes (MA, 2021) Publicity Assistant, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC)
Helen received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016. She studied Digital Humanities, Public History, and American History at UMass Amherst. While at UMass, she participated in numerous projects including the Truth, Dissent, & The Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg Conference and archival project. She also was the Public History Assistant in the department. After graduation, Helen accepted a positition as a Publicity Assistant at UNC Press.
Tianna Darling (MA, 2021) Administrative Assistant, New England Air Museum (East Granby, CT)
Tianna received her undergraduate degree from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, MA. During her time at MCLA, she majored in History and obtained minors in both Public History and Physics. She was introduced to the power of learning history outside a traditional classroom setting during an internship at Arrowhead, Herman Melville’s historic house in Pittsfield, MA. After graduation, she completed an internship and worked at Chesterwood, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site in Stockbridge, MA. During the year between receiving her undergraduate degree and beginning at UMass, she was hired at both the New England Air Museum as a Public Programs Facilitator and at Wistariahurst Museum as a member of the event staff. Both of these positions continued to foster her passion for the museum world and educating the public.
Through her studies at UMass, she has broadened her scope of public history interest. As part of the Intro to Public History class, she and two other students completed a white paper for the Springfield Armory National Historic Site in regards to their educational programming. She also interned at the New England Air Museum in addition to working on the Public Programs Team. There she recorded interviews of staff and volunteers to preserve the institutional history in the site’s 60th year. In her final two semesters she was thrilled to be a part of a class devoted to researching and writing about the life and work of Daniel Ellsberg, completing archive work that will eventually be turned into a catalog for the 50th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers next year. Tianna is now an Administrative Assistant at the New England Air Museum.
Danielle Raad (PhD 2021) Curator, Stanford Archaeology Collections (SUAC) and Assistant Director of Collections, Stanford Archaeology Center (Stanford, CA)
Danielle graduated in 2021 with a Ph.D. in Anthropology and a Graduate Certificate in Public History. Her dissertation, titled "Above the Oxbow: The Construction of Place on Mount Holyoke," is a contemporary archaeological ethnography of place-making on a mountain. Her book project based on her dissertation is under advance contract with West Virginia University Press. Danielle holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Brown University, an M.A. in Chemistry from Harvard University, an S.M. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Lesley University. She has years of teaching experience at both the high school and college levels.
While at UMass, Danielle was an Academic Advisor at the Commonwealth Honors College, taught a course on Ancient Civilizations for several semesters, and completed two museum internships. During the summer of 2019, she was a Curatorial Intern at Historic Deerfield (Deerfield, MA), generously supported by a Dr. Charles K. Hyde Public History Intern Fellowship, and in 2020 she worked at the Education Department of the Slater Memorial Museum (Norwich, CT), supported by a Dr. Judith A. Barter Internship Fellowship.
During the summer of 2021, Danielle began a postdoctoral fellowship in academic affairs and outreach in the Education Department of the Yale University Art Gallery. In this role, she expanded curricular engagement with the museum's collections, particularly that of STEM faculty and students. In August 2023, Danielle will become the Curator of the Stanford Archaeology Collections (SUAC) and Assistant Director of Collections at the Stanford Archaeology Center. In this role, she will lead all aspects of SUAC operations including acquisitions, collections management, exhibitions, education, research, and outreach.
Rachel Lima (MA, 2020) Grants Administrator, New York University
Growing up spending much time outdoors and interning in 2018 at Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut impacted my research interests as a historian, which concern the preservation and interpretation of public lands that shape perceptions of culture and heritage. While a student at UMass Amherst I pursued public history with a focus on historic preservation, as well as obtaining the cultural landscape management certificate in the Land Architecture and Regional Planning department. In May 2020 I began my position as the Director of Youth and Family Programming for the Mattatuck Museum before transitioning to my current role as Grants Administrator for NYU.
Taneil Ruffin (MA, 2020) PhD student, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
Taneil's research explored the relationships between people's understanding(s) of the natural world and various social and political projects throughout the Americas during the long nineteenth century. She also pursued a certificate in Public History. During her time in the program, Taneil enjoyed several opportunities to further explore these interests through her work on projects for the Humanities Action Lab, the National Park Service, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She also participated in the 2019 Mellon Scholars Summer Workshop at the Library Company of Philadelphia. In Fall 2020, she began the PhD program in history at the Princeton University.
Matthew Smith (MA, 2020) Budget Coordinator for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)
During my undergraduate career, I completed the dual degree program for English and History at UMass while writing my undergraduate thesis focusing stories of peoplehood and their influence on national identity. I also studied archaeology extensively, which started my interest in public history. During my time in the UMass Public History program I researched monumental structures and the way they are used to manipulate collective memory, as well as how we interact with monumental structures and spaces which reflect values that are no longer socio-culturally viable.
While completing my graduate studies, I worked full-time at with UMass Residential Life Student Services as a Residential Service Desk Coordinator. While not directly related to my studies, this position allowed me to gain skills in management, administration, and customer service that will be invaluable as I move forward with my career.
Mark Roblee (PhD, 2019) Lecturer, Commonwealth Honors College, UMass Amherst (Amherst, MA)
At UMass, I teach intellectual and cultural history informed by public history practice and perspectives. My research revolves around religion and philosophy in the ancient Mediterranean. I continue to wonder about the presentation of antiquity, "numinous objects," and why people love old things. I'm always looking for new ways to share my enthusiasm for the humanities and explore human thought, experience, and creativity over time and place.
I entered the UMass Public History Program with an interest in the intersection between public history practice and the "presentation" of antiquity in museums, popular culture, and heritage. In 2007, I worked on Mount Holyoke College Art Museum’s "Excavating Egypt" show and, in 2012, interned with the museum education director there during the "Reconstructing Antiquity" exhibition. Using the "Reconstructing Antiquity" collection, I produced a professional development workshop on teaching with objects for high school teachers of Ancient Greek and Roman civilization along with a guidebook for use in and out of the classroom. In 2012, I co-designed and mounted an exhibit on sericulture, “The Thread That Connects,” for Historic Deerfield. I co-facilitated two rounds of the Applied Humanities Learning Lab (Five College/Mellon), a public humanities intensive for Five College undergraduates. In 2017, I co-facilitated a workshop at the National Humanities Conference which took a group of professionals to the Boston Common and Public Garden to create "pop-up" Humanities "happenings" for/with the public. From 2019 - 2023, I coordinated Public Historians around Boston (PHaB), a professional networking group for alumni. These days I’m involved with the Amherst Historical Society and Museum, bringing in student interns to work on collections, exhibits, education, and outreach as well as independent research projects.
Jacob Boucher (MA 2019), Interpreter, Lowell National Historical Park (Lowell, MA)
Throughout my undergraduate career I was always thinking about not just history, but how history itself is remembered – memory, memorial, museums, etc. When I got to graduate school UMass I found out it had a name – public history. My interests are varied, but my primary commitment has always been to finding ways to share and communicate what we as historians learn with whoever is willing to listen. Much of my experience in the field comes from Lowell National Historical Park, where I act as a seasonal interpretive ranger giving tours, staffing exhibits, and helping to design and implement new, special programming for the park. This is where I completed my internship during the program, producing a short video and two educational programs. It became clear that my interests aligned with Lowell’s, and so I chose to focus on nineteenth-century U.S. History and global environmental history, with a special focus on industrialization.
These various interests came to a head in an extensive research paper on the relationship between the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMass Amherst) and the Sapporo Agricultural School in Hokkaido, Japan. I tracked the transnational diffusion of crops, and studied the methods these agriculturalists used to advise their Japanese students. I also reassessed how essential the advisors were to the school’s operation and questioned the Japanese government’s motivation for inviting certain members of the party. I hope in the future to continue this work, making the information more accessible to the public as well as reworking it into an article for scholarly review.
I continue to work for Lowell National Historical Park on a seasonal basis, and hope to obtain a permanent or career seasonal position. I also continue to work on my video editing projects, and now work alongside Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area to make their Heritage Stories video series, highlighting the lives of historical figures who lived in the Heritage Area, especially suffragists and women’s rights activists.
Perri Meldon (MA 2019), Ph.D. Candidate, Boston University's American and New England Studies Program (Boston, MA)
After completing her M.A. and public history certificate at UMass Amherst, Perri began her doctoral studies at Boston University in 2019. Building on her background in public history and federal land management, Perri studies the history of mid-Atlantic U.S. wildlife refuges and their relationship to surrounding communities.
In 2022 and 2023, Perri will serve as a Park History fellow with the National Park Service, where she assists with disability history initiatives. This work is an outgrowth of the research she conducted at UMass, which examined the history of accessibility and disability representations in the National Park Service. Perri received a 2022 Excellence in Cultural Resources Award from the National Park Service Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science Directorate. You can learn more about this collaborative work at https://www.nps.gov/people/madison-grant.htm.
Sharon Mehrman, MA'19, Furniture Maker
In my pursuit of a Master’s of Design and a Graduate Certificate in Public History, my studies are focused on material culture, historic preservation, and wood science. I’m especially interested in the technology and design of early machines and tools, architecture, and building technologies. As a public historian, I’m interested in creating dynamic ways to engage visitors. I have over 25 years of experience utilizing Design Thinking modalities to create design solutions in furniture making, woodworking, interior design, and graphic design. I own and operate a one-woman workshop in Florence, Massachusetts, where I design and build heirloom quality furniture and home furnishings. My experience as an artisan of handcrafted furniture informs my research and scholarship in my graduate studies.
Primarily a self-taught woodworker, I earned a Master Furniture Maker certificate from Hill Institute in Florence Massachusetts in 2009, where I now teach woodworking and furniture making classes. In 2016, I was appointed the director of the Master Furniture Program. Through a progression of early American furniture pieces, I teach students handcraft techniques such as cutting mortise & tenon and dovetail joinery, carving decorative elements like shells and fans, and wood inlay and veneering. Since taking over as program director, I have added a component to engage students in learning decorative arts history in conjunction with their hands-on practicum. In 2015, I was awarded the Grand Prize in the Popular Woodworking Magazine Excellence Awards for the Thread Chest, an Art Nouveau inspired original design casework piece that I created for a private collector. I show my work in nationally recognized juried craft shows including Paradise City Arts Festival and CraftBoston. My work was juried into a six-month exhibition at the Connecticut Historical Society, featuring current works by members of the Society for American Period Furniture Makers in 2012.
In 2019, I brought my public history training and furniture skills together in a project for Historic Northampton, creating a three-quarter scale reproduction of an iconic "Hadley" chest for installation in the exhibition "Making it on Main Street."
Kendall Taivalkoski, MA'19
Born and raised in Wisconsin, with half of my family “Yoopers”, I am a Midwestern woman who took myself east to pursue my education in history. I have a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point (UWSP) in History and it was there I developed my love for history and, more specifically, public history. The Stevens Point area, as well as my hometown, did not offer many opportunities to expand my knowledge of these fields so I applied to programs where I could. After a study abroad program led me to a short stay in Cuba (in January 2014), I participated in thae London internship program (Fall 2015) that placed me in a little hidden gem of London’s East End called The Ragged School Museum. It was there that I discovered my love for local history and the passion residents brought to it. Upon my return to the States I interned at the Milwaukee County Historic Society, cataloguing hundreds of objects. I also became an experimental intern at Amherst, Wisconsin’s coolest venture, The Taxidermy Store, and completed a research paper about the historic value of the town of Ahmeek, Michigan and the Keweenaw Peninsula.
While at UMass I developed an interest around sports history and how it contributes to cultural and national identity, and how sports have been utilized as a form of soft power. During the summer of 2018 I interned at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, where I was able to see first-hand how the Olympics helped build the Lake Placid’s identity as a winter sports town and how that legacy continues today. Back in the Pioneer Valley, I worked with the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, MA, where that sort was invented. Being from Packer-land, I hope eventually to bring my studies in sports history back around to my home state as well as Upper Michigan.
Emma Winter Zeig (MA, 2019), Public Engagement Manager, Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence, RI)
My parents bought me my first textbook on Early American History when I was seven years old, and I've been hooked ever since. While getting my BA in History with a concentration in Colonial America, I found myself as interested in ways that history could be communicated to a larger audience as I was in the subjects I was studying. I took part in planning an oral history and lectures at my school, and spent a summer in an internship at the Smithsonian Institution Archives assisting in the documentation of their oral history project. One of the major forces in determining my professional path came from an internship and subsequent volunteer position that I held at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, where I participated in the research and planning of over 20 exhibits. My time at the NYPL allowed me to do research in my other research interest: the history of theater and film, while helping me discover that Public History was the path for me.
As a MA student, during an internship for the National Museum of American History, supported by a Charles K. Hyde Fellowship, I continued my work in the public history of American entertainment, contributing to the development of a 7000 square foot exhibition that will explore how public entertainment shapes and reflects larger themes in U.S. History. Another internship at Historic Northampton in Fall 2018 led to my current postion as Research and Education Coordinator, and I'm pleased to have played a significant role in the creation of educational activities to accompany the exhibition "Making it on Main Street."
L.J. Woolcock (MA, 2019), Library Clerk, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
My work as a scholar has been eclectic. As an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh I trained as a medievalist, researching the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th and 14th centuries and the Baltic Crusades. My research examined how Christians in Western Europe incorporated their growing knowledge of paganism in Lithuania into their own worldview by relating it to classical antiquity, the subject of my 2014 journal article “Virgil in Lithuania: Francesco Petrarch’s Interactions with Paganism in the 14th Century.” I also worked for the University's Special Collections department, igniting a passion for connecting people to the past using rare books and archives.
My graduate research focused on the lives of enslaved women in Charleston, South Carolina, and explored how white elites deliberately shaped the city’s urban fabric to control the enslaved. I asked how we can imagine enslaved women's experiences of urban enslavement by looking at the city's streets, buildings, and social landscape. Part of this work is my Twitter project, @HistOnTheGround, where I pair archival research with urban exploration to show how cities have changed over time. I also continued my training as an archivist. In spring 2018 I interned at Mount Holyoke College’s Special Collections and Archives, and at the Massachusetts Historical Society in summer 2018, contributing to the Adams Papers documentary editing project and processing archival materials for Collections Services.
After graduation I joined the staff of the Massachusetts Historical Society as one of their indefatigable library assistants, working with researchers to navigate MHS collections and locate materials that push their projects in exciting new directions. In 2021, I accepted a new position at the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Amelia Zurcher (MA, 2019), Box Office Representative, Wisconsin Historical Society (Madison, WI)
I entered graduate school at UMass Amherst eager to become more familiar with the diverse work of a public historian and to further explore methods for challenging established narratives in local history. During my undergraduate years at The College of New Jersey I had researched the active political culture of Trenton’s Puerto Rican community in the late twentieth century and wrote a history honors thesis about seventeenth-century Newark, New Jersey. It traced the town’s transformation from one resembling its New England origins to one increasingly shaped by intensifying proprietary conflicts and relations with Lenape people. Through a Master’s Thesis entitled “Unsettling East Jersey: Borders of Violence in the Proprietary Era” I continued to question the unique political and social conflicts among both English and Native communities in seventeenth-century East Jersey. In many public history courses I studied how Euro-American and Lenape histories in the colonial Mid-Atlantic can be better presented through museums and digital history. During my time in the Public History program I worked on exhibits, catalogued collections, utilized digital platforms, developed public tours, and organized public events. Some of my favorite projects include a tour of the Old Manse attic for the Trustees that introduced often-forgotten inhabitants into the house’s historical narrative, a walking tour I developed about twentieth-century activism for the Cambridge Historical Society, and the various exhibits that I had assisted with at Historic Northampton.
Since graduating from the UMass Amherst Public History program in 2019, I have worked for Essex Heritage, a non-profit organization in Salem, Massachusetts that promotes conservation and development of the Essex National Heritage Area. I first began at Essex Heritage leading historical walking tours and working in the National Park Service Regional Visitor Center. I am now assisting with a range of countywide programs. Most recently, I worked on the newly recreated Using Essex History website, which makes hundreds of local primary sources available online for teachers of Essex County. I hope to continue to create public programs that encourage exploration of local history by making historic sites and historical information accessible and relevant to present communities.
Erica Fagen (PhD, 2019), Planning, Programming and Research Officer, Integrated Health and Social Services University Network (CIUSSS) for West-Central Montreal (Montreal, CA)
I am a public historian with specializations in modern Europe, digital history, social media, and mass violence and genocide. I completed my Ph.D, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May 2019. During my time at UMass Amherst, I presented at conferences such as the National Council for Public History's annual conference in 2014, 2015, and 2017 and participated in seminars such as the Trans-Atlantic Summer Institute's Reframing Mass Violence in Europe and the Americas: The Holocaust and Global Memory Constellations seminar in Bayreuth, Germany in 2016. I am currently writing a book with Professor Jennifer Evans (Carleton University) and Dr. Meghan Lundrigan entitled Holocaust Memory in the Digital Mediascape.
My training as a historian prepared me well for a career outside academia. I live in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and I currently work as a Planning, Programming and Research Officer in the Department of Professional Practice at the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal. My work consists of integrating best practice research and policy to support allied health professionals (dietitians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists, social workers, and others professionals) across a network of hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, residential centres, long-term geriatric residences, and day centres. I also have a busy volunteer life, and I am currently an Officer (Secretary) on the Board of Directors at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. My training in research, writing, public speaking, and serving as the GHA co-chair for the 2014-2015 academic year provided me with great experience for my current roles in the fields of health care, government, libraries, and community activism.
My public history work has been diverse, including development of pedagogical tools at the Montreal Holocaust Museum, working on projects such as Hate 2.0: Combating Hate in the Age of Social Technology and The Douglas Cardinal Archive Project at Carleton University, and processing the YM-YWHA collection at the Jewish Public Library Archives.
Kate Freedman (Ph.D. 2018) Librarian for History and Graduate Student Services, W.E.B. Du Bois Library (Amherst, MA)
I discovered a passion for historical research when I was an undergrad at Hampshire College, through a course called Women in Early New England, taught at Mount Holyoke by Glendyne Wergland (who I learned later was herself an alum of the UMass Graduate History program!). My research paper in that class, on mother-daughter relationships among well-to-do white women in the Pioneer Valley, led to an undergraduate thesis and a sustaining interest in Early American history.
In search of an excuse to avoid going home over the summer between my junior and senior years of college, I applied to and was awarded a summer fellowship at the Newport Historical Society. This fellowship gave me both a love of public history and planted the seeds that would eventually become my dissertation topic! While there, I discovered that Newport was during the eighteenth century both the center of the North American slave trade and the center of the Quaker community in New England, which struck me as odd to say the least, because prior to this, I had thought that Quakers were ardent abolitionists. I desperately wanted to find out the historical root of this seeming paradox, but the summer ended before I could uncover the answer.
Even with this historical quandary stuck in my brain though, I was too practical to go straight for my doctorate in history. Even in 2004, the American Historical Association was warning that it nearly impossible to get a faculty job, and I was wary of a career path that would require me to entirely surrender my future to the fates of the academic job market. Instead, I worked as a tour guide at the Emily Dickinson Museum for a year and then moved to Rhode Island to get my Master's in Library and Information Studies at the University of Rhode Island. Library school, however, was for the most part the opposite of inspiring - so much so that it almost put me off of librarianship entirely!
After graduating with my MLIS in 2007, I fled back to my first love, history. Even so, however, I remained stubbornly practical and applied only to MA programs, with UMass at the top of my list. As far as I was concerned, UMass Amherst had it all: a nationally renowned public history program, a location relatively close to the archives I wanted to access in Rhode Island, and not one but two Early Americanists who were experts in Quaker history.
Happily, my experience at UMass Amherst did not disappoint! I completed the Certificate in Public History, focusing on the digital humanities via work as a researcher on the Our Plural History project at Springfield Technical Community College, as a database developer for the Valley Women’s History Collaborative, and as the graduate assistant to the UMass Digital Humanities Initiative. I also discovered a love of teaching in my work as a TA for Women's History to 1890. When I completed my Master's, I didn't feel finished with being a scholar. Even five years out from my time in Newport, the question about the slave-trading Quakers in Rhode Island continued to bug me, so I finally did something impractical and stayed at UMass to work on a PhD.
Right after I defended my dissertation prospectus in 2013 though, opportunity came knocking, in the form of a job posting for an Undergraduate Education Librarian at the UMass Amherst libraries. Jobs in research libraries are quite competitive, so I thought this would just be an opportunity to practice my job application skills, but surprisingly, I got the job! When I asked what made me stand out from the crowd of applicants, I found out that I was hired in large part because of the teaching and digital humanities experience that I had gained through the UMass history program.
I spent the next five years launching the UMass Libraries' instruction program and finishing my dissertation (something that I was able to do successfully in large part because librarians at UMass function as pseudo-faculty, who are eligible for research leaves and sabbaticals). In 2019, I transitioned to a new role as the History and Graduate Student Services Librarian - a role where I get to indulge both my background as a historian and as a long-time graduate student! I'm also currently revising my dissertation into a book. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about where I ended up.
Laura Miller (M.A. 2009, Ph.D. 2014) Historical Consultant
I received both my M.A. in Public History and my Ph.D. in 20th century U.S. History from UMass Amherst. After completing my Ph.D. in 2014, I worked as a Historian at the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. In 2017, I moved back to Western Massachusetts and started a history consulting business.
My work has two different areas of focus: research and writing about the National Park Service, and research and writing about the history of philanthropy. On any given day, I might be conducting archival research, meeting oral history interviewees, or hunkering down in my office (or snuggling on the couch with my dogs) poring over research notes and drafting chapters.
As a graduate student, I took on several projects that helped expand my public history skill set, including research and writing for the National Park Service, developmental editing for UMass Press, and conducting oral histories for local historical organizations. These experiences gave me confidence to feel comfortable moving between wildly different research topics and resulting work products. As a consultant, my work covers the spectrum from short reports for philanthropic foundations, such as a history of the Ford Foundation’s grantmaking in the Deep South, to book-length works, such as a National Park Service administrative history of Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, Massachusetts. I cherish the variety of my day-to-day work and the flexibility it allows.
I am a member of the National Council on Public History, and have served on the Digital Media Group and on the Professional Development Committee. I have also been an affiliate editor for NCPH's History@Work blog. In 2022, I was elected to the NCPH Board of Directors.
Amanda Goodheart Parks (M.A. 2010, Ph.D. 2018) Director of Education, New England Air Museum (East Granby, CT)
My introduction to public history came in the form of an undergraduate internship at Mystic Seaport Museum. As a history and secondary education double major at Salve Regina University in historic Newport, RI, I was no stranger to museums and their potential to educate and inspire people of all ages. However, it wasn't until my summer at Mystic that 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 chose the UMass Public History Program for its faculty as well as its reputation as one of the leading public history graduate programs in the country. After completing my M.A. in 2010, I continued at UMass as a Ph.D. student with fields in the history of women and gender, public history, nineteenth century U.S. history, and environmental history. After eight years of working full-time in the museum field while researching and writing my dissertation, I successfully defended, "'No Seas Can Now Divide Us: Captains' Wives, Sister Sailors, and the New England Whalefishery, 1840-1870," with distinction in May 2018. My dissertation focused on whaling captains' wives who defied social and industrial norms by going to sea together with their husbands aboard whaleships in the mid-nineteenth century. I am currently working on a popular history account of one of these couples, and I am active lecturer and guest speaker on topics relating to women's history at local colleges, museums, and historical societies.
Over the course of my career I've had the privilege of working as a museum educator or historical interpreter at Mystic Seaport, The Preservation Society of Newport County, Historic Deerfield, Strawbery Banke Museum, and the Springfield Museums. I currently serve as the Director of Education at the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT where I oversee a department of ten staff at the largest aerospace museum in our region. I am also a new Co-Chair for the New England Museum Association's Education Professional Affinity Group, as well as a member of the Westfield Historical Commission.
Alex Asal (M.A., 2018) Encylopedia Digital Assistant at Jewish Women's Archive (Philadelphia, PA)
I came in to the field of public history through my undergraduate education at Smith College. I knew I loved history, and was pretty sure I didn't want to teach in a traditional classroom, which was the default suggestion from everyone who heard my major. In search for a career that would not take me too far from the past, I applied to an internship at the Sophia Smith Collection and College Archives, and developed a passion for bridging the gap between "the stuff" and the public.
At UMass, my primary areas of interest were global Jewish History and U.S. women's history, in particular women's labor in the World War II era. At the Graduate History Conference in 2018 I presented a paper titled, "Revisiting Rosie: Women, Labor, and World War II," and an article on women officer candidates in the Navy is slated to run in the Smith Alumnae Quarterly's Summer 2019 issue. While earning my MA I held internships with the Wexler Oral History Project, the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History, and the Mount Holyoke College Archive.
Following my graduation from UMass, I moved to Philadelphia and began work as a tour guide at the Eastern State Penintentiary Historic Site. Find me on twitter @Alex_in_Public.
Austin Clark (M.A., 2018) Library Media Specialist, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School (South Hadley, MA)
History is tricky business. Between graduating from Gettysburg College in 2012 and coming to UMass in 2016, I worked a variety of jobs – as a librarian in a small public library, a substitute teacher for two separate middle schools, and as a site supervisor and interpreter for Canterbury Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH. While diverse in experience, the jobs I enjoyed the most had one thing in common. They were where history hit the pavement. I found great fulfillment in engaging with multi-faceted positions that required not only creative historical scholarship and interpretation, but also day-to-day ingenuity in solving the seemingly mundane problems of maintaining an organization as a vibrant public resource. In other words, I began to pursue a career as a public historian.
Studying at UMass is a natural step in that career. While here, I have become immersed in both the practical and the philosophical aspects of public history and have come to understand the field as something greater than both – public service. No matter where they are, in academia or in the field, I believe public historians are defined by their conscious service to the public, in whatever form that takes. The opportunity UMass gave me to intern with Mass Humanities only reinforced this conviction. I worked on a variety of projects, including editing grants and arranging the donation of over 11,000 books. These tasks helped me understand that a large part of the work of public service is facilitating public access to humanities material and scholarship. Humanities, and history as a key part of that, is data in the human sense, information people need to make informed and critical decisions. Making sure that people have the access to the resources they need to keep telling stories and putting together projects remains crucial to my sense of purpose as a public historian.
The larger purpose of my education at UMass is to help me become a “student in the field,” a practitioner with enough confidence and knowledge to move forward, but with curiosity and an engaged mind that will keep making creative connections. So far, I have kept up this curiosity by studying and writing about graveyards and cemeteries, both in and academic and professional capacity. Along with fellow M.A. student Nolan Cool, I was hired as a historical consultant by the Leverett Cemetery Association to research six of their historic graveyards and make sure these sites were documented in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS). This experience not only helped me develop as a professional, but remains foundational for much of my research and inquiry into preservation and public history.
My academic interests lie in diverse areas, but at UMass I focused on the intersection of violence and nation-making in the nineteenth century and the history of classical art in college collections. I have researched and written about the history of the classical art collection at Mount Holyoke College and how early professors, notably Louise Fitz-Randolph and Caroline Galt, used the medium of display to drive the professionalization of their department. It is work I hope to expand on in the future and come to a greater understanding not just of art and museums, but of how art as a category of knowledge influences the way we see objects and artifacts today.
Find me on twitter @thealtacademic
Nolan Cool (M.A., 2018) Educational Programs Director, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (Keeseville, NY)
For most of my life living in Upstate New York’s Mohawk Valley, a historically rich “middle ground,” I’ve always found change over time as it relates to people, communities, and the landscape, a concept not only visible, but deeply ingrained in landscapes. While attending community college, I spent my summers traveling to and experiencing New York’s abundant historic sites, museums, and cultural organizations, many of which rarely find their way into the public spotlight. Through actively pursuing different experiences across the state’s historical landscape, alongside a (relatively safe) addiction to historical research, public history clicked for me as my time as an undergrad at Utica College wrapped up. I carried my experiences with digitization, social media, and wacky ideas with me from my role in starting and managing the Utica College Center for Historical Research’s Digital History Project (via New York Heritage) to a formative summer 2016 internship at Hyde Hall, a historic mansion in Cooperstown, New York. Here, I worked to make the richly-detailed George Hyde Clarke Family Papers available to the public online, while also delivering tours and exploring the ins-and-outs of historic house museum management.
In fall 2016, I moved on from the Mohawk Valley and into the Pioneer Valley for graduate school here at UMass Amherst. As a graduate student in the History Department, more than anything, I learned how to turn my career goals into tangible projects. Continuing work in historic houses, I spent a short summer in 2017 with the Stone House Museum in Belchertown, Massachusetts, where I worked to explore how to make small museums more relevant to its surrounding community. Through interning at the Stone House, I also worked closely with the Pioneer Valley History Network to challenge local history museums and historical societies to rethink their collections, interpretation, and the visitor experience.
Over the past year I have consulted on two preservation projects in Holyoke, MA and Leverett, MA. Both centered on cataloging city and town cemeteries for the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), a state-wide cultural resource database. Completing this work allowed me to survey and experience the interaction between public history and local government, a relationship that played out in the graveyard. Together with the Holyoke Historical Commission, Leverett Historical Society, and Leverett Cemetery Association, I helped create necessary MACRIS documentation constituting the basis for future preservation grant funding and potential National Register of Historic Places nominations in the future.
Apart from my work exploring possibilities in historic house museums or traversing New England’s graveyards, I focus my historical studies in Early America, particularly colonial and early New York State history. After graduating from UMass in May 2018, I entered the position of Educational Programs Director at Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), translating my background in historic houses, preservation, public history, and media into active field work. At AARCH, I work to create, coordinate, and execute a slate of educational programs taking the organization’s members all over Upstate New York’s Adirondack Park, a sprawl of wilderness and communities, both human and nonhuman. This position allows me to practice public history in the field, and to travel to lesser-known, historically-rich, and more private sectors of the North Country. At these sites, I am able to apply a continually-growing interest in tangibly bringing the past to historic preservation practice, and bringing the regional and national publics to better understand the intersection between history, communities, and broader environments.
Find me on twitter @Nolan_Cool
Shakti Castro (M.A., 2017), PhD student, Columbia University
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. I came to UMass to continue doing this work and was fortunate enough to work closely with the Oral History Lab, and as a research assistant at the Center for Design Engagement and intern at Wistariahurst Museum to help document the Puerto Rican history of Holyoke, MA.
After graduation, I received a competitive graduate fellowship through the Smithsonian Latino Center. I spent 6 weeks as a research fellow in the MedSci division at the National Museum of American History researching the history of the opioid crisis, harm reduction, and drug policy reform in New York City's Puerto Rican and Latinx communities. Following that experience, I was able to find work in the advocacy department of BOOM!Health, a public health nonprofit and syringe exchange focused on harm reduction in the South Bronx. I next accespted the position of Associate Director of Education Programs at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, a nonprofit focused on arts & culture in the Bronx. In Fall 2019, I entered the PhD program at Columbia Univerisity.
Katherine Fecteau (M.A., 2017) Curator of Exhibitions, Old Sturbridge Village (Sturbridge, MA)
Katherine graduated from Colby College with a degree in anthropology in 2013. A lifelong love of history and material culture led her to pursue graduate studies in history and public history, which she completed in 2017. She subsequently interned for the Boston Furniture Archive and worked as a Museum Attendant at Historic Deerfield. She also conducted research for the Kneeland & Adams Research Project, Historic Northampton, and the Springfield Museums. In September 2018, she began a Curatorial Fellowship at Old Sturbridge Village, and joined their permanent staff as the Assistant Curator in November of that year. In 2022, she became the Curator of Exhibitions, managing the Village’s permanent and long-term exhibits. Katherine also oversees the Village's Integrated Pest Management program and generates social media content to make the museum’s collection (most of which is in storage) visible to the public.
Felicia Jamison (Ph.D., 2017) Assistant Professor of African American History, Drake University (Des Moine, IA)
I received my M.A. from Morgan State University in 2010. My thesis analyzed the role of African-American women in the formation of Sharp Street United Methodist Church, one of the oldest black congregations in Baltimore, Maryland. I actively involved church members in the project by conducting oral histories. In addition, I used the physical space of the church and its artifacts to tell a broader story of late 19th/early-20th-century African-American women impacting their community through social uplift work. For my dissertation, I used archival methodology as well as oral history to recount the black freedom struggle of a Geechee community in rural Georgia from the 18th century until the 1940s. While pursuing my Ph.D. at UMass Amherst, I gained the practical skills of Public History through course work and various internships at the W.E.B. Du Bois National Historic Site and by working with Clinton Church Restoration, a community-based grassroots organization who raised funds to save the oldest African-American church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
After graduating, I worked as a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland College Park during which I researched and began to write a monograph tentatively titled Reconstructing Freedom: Black Women and Property Ownership in the Rural South. The book analyzes the strategies and techniques Southern black women used to accumulate property during slavery in the antebellum period and purchase land and deed property to their progeny during Reconstruction. By tracing the practice of property and landownership through several generations, this study shows that Southern African Americans built on traditions of property ownership created in slavery to purchase and maintain ownership of land during the late 19th and early 20th century. It also shows that black women had long been integral in this process.
While at the University of Maryland, I taught a course titled “Public Interpretations of African American History.” The class analyzes how African American history has been interpreted in the public sphere in museums and at historic sites, in public schools, and in films. And as a public historian, I actively incorporate Public History into my history courses by creating assignments in which students visit local museums, conduct oral histories of family members, and create blog posts based on their experiences at local historic sites.
After my fellowship, I taught as an Assistant Professor of African American History at Drake University. Currently, I work as an Assistant Professor of History & Comparative Humanities at the University of Louisville.
Gregg Mitchell (M.A., 2017) Branch Supervisor, Mason Square Branch Library (Springfield, MA)
Gregg Mitchell received his BSE and Initial Licensure in Elementary Education from Westfield State University in 2012. He then worked in Holyoke, MA for four years in various educational capacities including classroom teacher, after-school program instructor, and student mentor in grades K-12. Gregg left his position with Holyoke Public Schools upon receiving acceptance to UMass Amherst’s MA in History program; in the Fall of 2015, he began both his MA coursework and working towards his Graduate Certificate in Public History. Gregg’s primary concentrations within public history focused on digital history and museum/historic site interpretation. Over the next two years, he worked with many local historical institutions in the area on a variety of projects. This included designing walking tours for smart phones, conducting and transcribing oral history interviews, designing interactive maps, and creating local history rooms. One of Gregg’s articles relating to rural libraries in Western Massachusetts was published on the Living New Deal’s website: https://livingnewdeal.org/regional-libraries-and-the-ruralurban-knowledg...
In addition to Gregg’s work in public history, his other major fields include economic and financial history as well as British and American imperialism. Gregg’s economic and financial history field explores the role of financial institutions from the late nineteenth century to present and their role in shaping the globalized world we live in today. His field also analyzes the contributions of globalization and free trade during this same time period. Gregg’s British and American imperialism field focuses on the means of control used by various imperial powers, how these means can justify the narrative for imperialism, and how imperialism affects the identity of those involved.
After graduating in 2017, Gregg entered the world of public librarianship and continues to work with public history institutions on a variety of projects. In addition, Gregg completed his Master of Library & Information Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2021. He currently works as the Supervisor for Springfield (MA) City Library’s Mason Square Branch.
Find me on twitter @Gregg_Mitch
Email me at GMitch132@gmail.com
Selena Moon (M.A., 2017) Writer & Fact Checker, Minnesota Women's Press (St. Paul, MN); Interpreter, Edina Historical Society (Edina, MN)
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) and 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.
In the summer of 2016, I interned at the National Museum of American History with the Executive Order 9066 exhibit opening in February 2017. The exhibit commemorates the 75th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing Executive Order 9066 which led to 120,000 Japanese-Americans being interned during World War II. I catalogued donated artifacts, researched the historical significance of the objects and the biographies of the owners. It added a great deal of depth to the objects to know their history and showed me just how much material there was associated with the Japanese-American internment. I hope to return to perform in-depth research on the hundreds of artifacts that I was only able to glimpse during my internship and time in the UMass Public History program.
I currently work as a writer & fact checker for the Minnesota Women's Press, and as an interpreter for the Edina Historical Society in Edina, MN, interpreting the Historic Cahill School, built in 1864 and one of the oldest surviving buildings in Edina.
Find me on twitter @SelenaNMoon
See my website at selenammoon.com
Kelli Morgan (Ph.D., 2017) Professor of the Practice, Curatorial Studies, Professor of the Practice, History of Art and Architecture, Director of Curatorial Studies, Tufts University (Medford, MA)
Originally from Detroit, MI., Dr. Kelli Morgan earned her doctorate in Afro-American Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Public History – Museum Studies in 2017 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass). A scholar and curator, Morgan has worked in a variety of curatorial, programming, teaching, and research positions at various institutions including The Tyler School of Art at Temple University, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). In early 2014, Morgan was awarded a dissertation fellowship from the prestigious Ford Foundation. She was also named the Curatorial Fellow of African American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art (2014 – 2015), and in 2016 became the inaugural recipient of The Winston & Carolyn Lowe Curatorial Fellowship for Diversity in the Fine Arts at PAFA.
As a critical race cultural historian, Morgan specializes in American art and visual culture. Her interdisciplinary research concentrates primarily on historic African American women artists, however her curatorial work often examines, critiques, and theorizes the ways in which American artists, art objects, art history, and art institutions both challenge and reify the systematic mechanisms of anti-Black violence and oppression in the United States. By analyzing the ways in which Americans construct visual discourses, conceptualize images, and sometimes resist these discourses, Morgan’s curatorial and pedagogical practices link Art History, Women’s Studies, African American History, and Museum Studies to create stimulating and culturally sensitive educational opportunities for students and public audiences alike.
For more on Kelli's work at the intersection of public history and contemporary art, see her interview on the history Department's blog, Past@Present.
Sara Patton Zarrelli (M.A., 2017) Associate Planner, Museum Insights (Harvard, MA) and Independent Historian
Sara Patton Zarrelli received her BA in History from Carleton College in 2010. She fell in love with the National Park Service after interning at the John F. Kennedy National Historic Site, and worked for a variety of National Park Service Units before becoming the lead park ranger at the John F. Kennedy National Historic Site in 2012. Inspired by the Imperiled Promise Report on the state of history in the National Park Service, Sara decided to go to graduate school to help shape the history program within the National Park Service. Sara began the MA program in 2015, in part because of Marla Miller's co-authorship of the Imperiled Promise Report. Sara's graduate work focused on landscape, memory and identity; her thesis Springing Forth Anew: Progress, Preservation, and Park-Building at Roger Williams National Memorial (found here) analyzed the role of community members in creating a national park unit during a period of urban renewal in Providence, Rhode Island. Following her graduation in 2017 with certificates in Public History and Cultural Landscape Management, Sara interned with the History Program of the Northeast Region of the National Park Service before accepting the position of Engagement Site Manager at the Old Manse, a property of the Trustees of the Reservation, in Concord MA. In this role, Sara designed interpretive program, trained and managed interpretive staff, organized special events and programming, and served as a liaison to the community. In 2019, Sara left the Old Manse to begin work with Museum Insights, a small firm that helps museums plan for change through business plans, feasibility studies, and master plans. In addition to her work with Museum Insights, Sara is the Principal Investigator for the Administrative History of Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site.
Email me at email@example.com
Rebekkah Rubin (M.A., 2017) Freelance History Writer
Originally from Canton, Ohio, I received my B.A. in History from Oberlin College in 2013. After graduating, I worked as a historical interpreter at Old World Wisconsin—a living history museum—and crafted educational programming for children at Madison Children’s Museum. I also served as the Volunteer Coordinator for an elementary school in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, where I helped match at-risk students with community volunteers for literacy tutoring sessions. After working in these diverse roles that all emphasized education and communication, I decided to attend UMass to learn more about how to make history accessible and interesting for varying audiences.
I received my Masters in History with a Graduate Certificate in Public History in 2017. While at UMass, I completed fields of study in public history with an emphasis on writing beyond the academy, modern European history, and history of the book. Those interests melded into my article-length paper entitled “‘Unhistoric Acts: American Women Reading George Eliot in the Progressive Era,” which won the Caldwell Writing Prize. During the summer of 2016, I received a Hyde Fellowship and completed two internships focused on publishing and writing history at University of Massachusetts Press and Belt Magazine. My passion for communicating history shaped my studies, practice, and teaching style; I was honored to receive the Ermonian Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching in 2017. I am currently a freelance history writer, and I enjoy writing on the role public history plays in our everyday lives, from museums and historic sites to historical memory and memorial, as well as the intersections between history and works of fiction and historical fiction. My work has appeared in Belt Magazine, Smithsonian.com, The Week, and Electric Literature.
See my website here https://rebekkahrubin.com
Find me on twitter @rebekkahrubin
Danping Wang (M.A., 2017) Ph.D. Student, Columbia University (New York, NY)
I was first introduced to the idea of public history in an undergraduate course offered by professor CHEN Xin at Zhejiang University. Upon learning this concept, I was immediately intrigued by its focus on sharing authority. Interested in learning more about public history, I worked as a volunteer for the first Public History Faculty Training in China in the summer of 2014, where I met and talk to professor David Glassberg and Richard Anderson, an alumni of the public history program.
After I got admitted to the history MA/public history program at UMass Amherst, I focused on studying Modern Chinese history and exploring theories and practice of historic preservation. I took several courses with the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning department and the Architecture Department, which better prepared me in terms of preservation theories. The faculty members and alumni of the program also offered great assistance in terms of reaching out and finding internships.
Now I am a Ph.D. student at Columbia University, studying Chinese pharmaceutical history in the twentieth century, with a focus on the production and circulation of fake medicine. Although I am not currently doing anything directly related to public history, I gradually came to see how my training here shaped and continues to shape who I am as a historian. This program has encouraged me to pay more attention to audiences and push boundaries. It also enabled me to see history both as art and way of communication with general public.
Rose Gallenberger (M.A., 2016) Director, Mount Clare Museum House (Baltimore, MD)
I completed my BA at Wisconsin Lutheran College, a small liberal arts college (approximately 1000 students when I attended) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While I received a good foundation in writing and research, I did not get the sense that material culture was “real history.” It was not until my second semester in the public history program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst that I came to realize that I could research objects and the broader concept of material culture academically.
Even though my primary interest is in early American material culture, I knew a public history program was the path for me. Rather than examining objects in a vacuum or within their historical context only, I wanted to be able to consider the needs of the public and what broader narrative concerning the tangible past I could communicate with them and how. My primary interest is the placement of material culture within the context of a living history museum or an historic home.
I was able to apply what I learned in the public history classroom at the living history level. With the support of the UMass Public History Program's Hyde Fellowship, I completed my summer internship researching 17th-Century Maryland material culture to evaluate the interpretive collections at the Godiah Spray plantation. I provided documentation for the reproductions used at the recreated 17th century plantation and began creating a master list of items found in early Maryland probate inventories. After obtaining my masters, I served as a summer curatorial intern in textiles and historic interiors at Colonial Williamsburg. There, I studied textiles and wrote the furnishing plan and research report portraying the Peyton Randolph house as Comte de Rochambeau’s headquarters prior to the Siege of Yorktown.
These two internships, the four internships I completed as an undergrad, and my education aided me in receiving, and accepting, a job offer near the end of my internship at Colonial Williamsburg. I am currently the site manager at Mount Clare Museum House, the 1760s home of Charles Carroll, Barrister. B&O Railroad Museum operates it and the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America owns the collections. As the only employee at Mount Clare, I am the curator, volunteer and docent coordinator, researcher, educator, and administrator, and I have a fantastic opportunity to reimagine the museum.
Deborah Kallman (M.A., 2016) Director of Finance (retired), Historic Deerfield (Deerfield, MA)
I have taken a somewhat non-traditional route to UMass. I returned 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. I was 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 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 studied modern European history and Modern U.S. history.
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. After completing my MA I accepted a position as Business Manager at The Mount. Currently, I am the Director of Finance at Historic Deerfield.
In addition, I maintain research interests situated within the Progressive era and specifically to the study of a utopian farm in West Newbury, Massachusetts. In Fall 2019, I returned to UMass History to pursue my PhD, while continuing in my work at Historic Deerfield. I retired from my position at Historic Deerfield in 2021.
Kathleen Mahoney (M.A., 2016) Instructional Designer & e-Learning Developer, Imprivita (Canton, MA)
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. With the support of the UMass Public History Program's Hyde Fellowship, in the summer of 2015 I was thrilled to gain firsthand experience doing archival work with internships with the WGBH Media Library and Archives and with documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. Since finishing school, I spend my time playing music and volunteering at Girls Rock Camp Boston. You can find my music here.
Chel Miller (M.A., 2016) Communications Director, New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault (Albany, NY)
I am a survivor-advocate, public historian, and prison abolitionist living and working on occupied and unceded Muh-he-con-neok (Mohican) and Haudenosaunee land in what is currently called upstate New York.
As a graduate student, my fields of interest included US history, global history, and social-justice informed scholarship. During the 2015-16 academic year, I completed an internship at the Institute for Curatorial Practice curating an online exhibition of textiles in the Five College Museums’ collections, titled The Third Space: Textiles in Material and Visual Culture. I also contributed content to a national traveling exhibition titled States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue of Local Histories, which included video interviews, blog posts, and an exhibit panel on the history of gendered incarceration in Massachusetts. In the final year of my graduate studies, I served as the 2015–16 Communications Assistant for the Department of History.
By day, I manage communications for the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault. I serve on the Board of Directors of the Capital District Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) and the Board-led Subcommittee on Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment at the National Council on Public History (NCPH). In my spare time, I enjoy baking; creating and viewing art; engaging in local and online activism centered around survivor justice, racial justice, disability justice, fat liberation, and prison abolition; and spending time with my cat, Luna, and two birds, Ginger and Kass.
Find me on twitter @liberationfemme
See my wesbite here https://mxchelmiller.wordpress.com/
Sandra Perot (M.A., 2008; Ph.D., 2016) Director, Advanced Humanities Research, Berkshire School (Sheffield, MA)
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. Eventually I decided to stay at UMass for a PhD. My dissertation research examined transatlantic influences throughout the Anglophone world, particularly the way in which 17th- and 18th-century women in theater interacted with, experienced and examined their surroundings as they moved from place to place. Currently, I am the Director of Advanced Humanities Research at Berkshire School in Sheffield, MA.
Julie Peterson (M.A., 2016) Experience Developer at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (Denver, CO)
Julie Peterson's interest in public history arose during her undergraduate career while studying the built environment 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. At UMass, she studied 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. Throughout her study of public history, she seeks 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, Julie completed an internship at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in Philadelphia, PA. While there, she helped develop the award-winning Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, an exhibit about the contemporary U.S. criminal justice system that opened in May 2016. Julie completed the MA in History with a Public History Certificate in May 2016, with her capstone research project, "Interpreting Incarceration: Penal Tourism at the Museum of Colorado Prisons." After graduation, she curated "The Carceral Commonwealth/ La mancomunidad carcelaria," an exhibit for UMass Amherst in collaboration with The New School’s States of Incarceration project, which opened in March 2017.
Julie works at the History Colorado Center as a public historian/exhibit developer. She works to bring exhibits to life, collaborating with History Colorado colleagues, doing research and interpretive writing, and conducting audience evaluation. She is currently the lead developer for an exhibit geared toward an audience of middle and high school students all about civic engagement, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship in Colorado. She also participates in the Denver Evaluation Network. Julie’s work—particularly in the area of public history and the carceral state—has been published in The Public Historian and Museums & Social Issues. Julie is also an active member of the National Council on Public History, and serves as co-chair of the organization’s New Professional and Graduate Student Committee.
She invites fellow alumni, faculty, and current students to look her up if they find themselves out West! Feel free to reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or follow her on Twitter: @juliegpeterson.
In November 2022, Julie accepted a role as Experience Developer at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Denver, CO.
Nuri Sherif (M.A., 2016) Fair Housing Testing Coordinator, Community Legal Aid (Springfield, MA); Legal Assistant, Gender Identity Validation Services (Northampton, MA)
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 studied oral history theory and methodology in the hopes of releasing my inner Studs Terkel and using the oral histories I and others conducted 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 graduate research examined 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. Beginning in February 2017 I began serving as the social media editor for NOTCHES, a peer-reviewed blog on the history of sexuality.
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.
Rebecca Schmitt (M.A., 2015) National Register Coordinator, Tennessee Historical Commission (Nashville, TN)
Throughout my life, I have always had a love of history as I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and later near Cape Girardeau, Missouri. However, it was not until I went to Southeast Missouri State University for my undergraduate work that I realized the vast array of employment opportunities within Public History and Preservation. While working on my BA in History and BS in Historic Preservation, I completed multiple skill-based projects such as architectural inventory surveys, National Register of Historic Places nominations, building conditions assessments, strategic plans, and traditional history research and historiographical essays. Along the way, I completed two internships at the Stars and Stripes Museum in Bloomfield, MO and the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg, MO.
After graduating from Southeast in 2013, I came to UMass to pursue a Master’s Degree in History with a specialization in Public History and Historic Preservation. Within the program, I was able to complete projects such as a National Register of Historic Places nomination and an architectural walking tour for the Springfield Museums. In my coursework, I discovered new methods of investigating and interacting with the past, primarily through the study of memory, landscapes, and heritage tourism.
During the summer of 2014, I completed an amazing internship at the Maryland Historical Trust, the State Historic Preservation Office for Maryland. I worked within their easement program and updated inventory documentation on easement properties. This included photo-documentation, on-site building analysis and investigation, and archival research on the site’s history. My project covered a wide range of structures including a theater, railroad station, private homes, a boat, and even a lighthouse. It was an opportunity that helped me realize what career I would like to pursue, which would preferably be within a consulting firm or historic agency.
After graduating from UMass, I attended Eastern Michigan University and earned my Master of Science in Historic Preservation in 2015. From 2015 to 2017 I worked for the Michigan Historical Marker Program. I reviewed marker applications, verified primary source research, performed additional research as necessary, and wrote marker texts, coordinating the final texts to follow best historical practice while incorporating the viewpoints of sponsors and commissioners from the politically-appointed Michigan Historical Commission. I completed almost 50 markers, which have been installed throughout the state to educate the public on Michigan’s diverse and significant history. In December 2017, I became the co-National Register Coordinator for the Tennessee Historical Commission (State Historic Preservation Office). I deal with anything and everything related to the National Register, including writing and reviewing nominations, providing guidance to members of the public, and administering grants for nomination projects. In the Fall of 2018 I also began my PhD studies in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University. My dissertation will focus on historical markers as a method of public history, focusing specifically on issues of memory, shared authority, cultural politics, place making, and preservation.
Kayla Weisenberger (M.A., 2015) PhD Student, William and Mary
I have always been interested in a multidisciplinary approach to studying the past; however, the further I advanced my degree, the less wiggle room I seemed to have. I bounced between universities during my undergraduate years, trying to find a way to combine by interests in Early America, Archaeology, and Museum Studies in a manner that made me a viable candidate in the job market. My senior thesis at the University of Oklahoma, “The Worlds of Monticello Mountain: How Space Reflected Power & Politics on an Eighteenth Century Plantation,” was written out of my experience attending the University of Virginia-Monticello Archaeological Field School. I analyzed Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation in terms of what the organization of physical space can teach us about politics and power on an early national plantation.
I regularly crossed disciplinary boundaries putting history, archaeology, and anthropology in conversation with one another to produce a clearer, more vibrant understanding of the past. Without museums and historical sites, that not only preserve the past, but disseminate their findings to the public through online databases such as the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, my research would not have been possible.
I realized that the study of public history would allow me to combine and hone my interests, and engage with the public in a manner that truly brings history alive. UMass Amherst’s Public History program allowed me to grow as a traditional historian while at the same time gain invaluable hands-on experience in the field. During my second year I developed an interest in blending the study of space and place in the Virginia Piedmont during the Early Republic with historic preservation and completed an internship at James Monroe's Ash-Lawn Highland. Upon graduation I accepted a position as curator of the Wethersfield (CT) Historical Society, and a year later became Director of Research and Interpretation there. From there I moved on to the Historic Westfield in Columbus, Georgia, and then to my a position as administrative assistant to the Director in the Institute of Material Sciences at the University of Connecticut. In time I decided to resume my graduate studies, and in Fall of 2019, began a PhD program in History at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA.
Check out this interview with Kayla as she commenced her PhD program.
Emily Pipes (M.A., 2015) Project Coordinator, Center for Education Policy Research, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
I graduated from the Commonwealth Honors College of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2012 with a B.A. in History and minors in Classics and Spanish. I wrote my honors thesis on the civil rights activism of Young Women’s Christian Association during the era of McCarthy, more specifically: the divide within the organization caused by the fear of communism during recurrent red scares, the rift this tension caused within its membership, and the effect this division had on the organization’s activism. This project relied upon primary source materials found in the YWCA of the USA records at the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College, scholarship on the YWCA, the Cold War, mid-twentieth century women, and progressive movements. During my undergraduate career I also worked as an intern in the Special Collection and University archives, where I catalogued and created a finding aid for the George Millman Papers.
As a Master’s student at UMass Amherst I continued my study of 20th century US history with a focus on the intersection of race, gender/feminism and public policy. My primary focus within public history was public policy. I completed an internship at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in Boston (summer 2014) and in Springfield (fall semester 2014). As an intern at the MCAD, I was able to hone my ability to historicize political problems by analyzing current social conditions and attempting to piece together the historical events which created modern-day society. Working at the MCAD revealed to me some of the many ways in which public policy, law and history are constantly in conversation with one another.
I currently work as a project coordinator for the Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University. Through my work at CEPR, I am able to apply the research, writing and analytical thinking skills I developed at UMass to my daily responsibilities; which typically include conducting literature reviews; collecting and analyzing data; recruiting and interviewing subjects; and summarizing project results. I am excited by the opportunity to employ a historical perspective on contemporary policy analysis.
I am now also pursuing a second master's degree from the Harvard School of Education in Education Policy and Management.
Emily Hunter (M.A., 2015) Ph.D. Student, Department of History, Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)
Growing up in Cooperstown, NY, home to several museums and to the New York State Historical Association Library, I developed an appreciation for public history at a young age. Throughout my middle and high school years, I enjoyed working as a volunteer interpreter at The Farmers’ Museum, a living history museum which recreates life in an 1840s village. As a history major at the State University of New York at Oneonta, I began to focus my passion for public history on archives and special collections libraries. Through an internship at the New York State Historical Association Library and as an intern and researcher in the archives at my university’s Milne Library, I accessioned and created catalogues for archival materials, conducted oral history interviews, compiled materials for library publications, and participated in outreach programs which introduced the public to the archival holdings. For the last 2 years, I have served as a moderator at the Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, an annual event hosted by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I chose the public history program at UMass-Amherst because it allowed me to combine historical research and writing with the skills I need for my career in archive management. I was drawn to the program because of the rich archival resources available through the Five College Consortium and because of the professors whose areas of expertise link to my own research goals. At UMass, my research focused on women in the U.S. Progressive Era and first-wave feminism. After graduating from UMass I decided to continue my studies and I am currently pursuing a degree in Archival Studies at Syracuse University.
Katie Garland Zimmerman (M.A., 2015), Foundation Partnerships and Grants Manager, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank (Harrisburg, PA)
After a fantastic undergraduate experience in the History Department at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania and a summer at the Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program in Early American Material Culture, deciding to pursue public history at UMass Amherst was an easy choice. I knew that the program would rigorously train me as a historian while also giving me the opportunity to learn more about public history by doing hands on projects with museums across the Pioneer Valley. As I worked through the MA program, I began to realize that while I felt good about my history knowledge and public history skills, I did not know a lot about nonprofit management. Therefore, I added an extra year onto my program by pursuing a certificate in arts management through the Arts Extension Service.
When I had difficulty finding public history jobs after graduation, I fell into a nonprofit fundraising job. I soon discovered that I really enjoy fundraising, and that my background in both public history and arts management had prepared me very well for a career that I did not know I wanted! As it turns out, writing and speaking to public audiences about the past is remarkably similar to writing and speaking to public audiences about a cause you believe in. I currently work as the Fund Development Coordinator for Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. I manage our council's United Way grants and am in charge of our donor database. I also provide support to a wide variety of other fundraising activities. Even though I am not actively working as a public historian, I use my public history training on a daily basis. In November 2018 I wrote about how I incorporated public history in my work for the Girl Scouts on the AHA's Perspectives blog. I later accepted a position as grant writer for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and now serve as Foundation Partnerships and Grants Manager for the organization.
Matt Coletti (M.A., 2015) Research Historian, History Associates (Rockville, MD)
Believe it or not, I recall my first visit as a toddler to one of the country’s stirring National Parks: Antietam National Battlefield. As my family and I strolled across the rolling hills of outside of Sharpsburg, Maryland, my imagination ran wild from the countless stories of the American Civil War that the Park Rangers recounted. That family trip planted the seed that blossomed into my boundless curiosity about United State history. Toward the end of my undergraduate studies at Washington College in 2012, I realized that I wanted to continue with my education, and become a professional historian working in the public sphere. My interests in historical memory began to form at this point, and I knew that I wanted to combine my American Civil War fascination with its resonance in contemporary, American society. Based on my experiences at the Park Service’s Civil War battlefields, I knew that a career with the Park Service was possible. The idea of how park staff compresses the national narrative to an intimate level for its visitors was something I admired and aspired to join. I was able to apply the knowledge I obtained from the public history faculty to the internship that I completed during the summer of 2014. I spent the better part of four months working with the staff at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to design and interpret visitor programs that explored the complex connections between the town and the national events encompassing the Federalist Era, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Following the completion of my internship with the National Park Service, I worked on an interpretive program that will enable park employees to educate visitors in the intimate relationship concerning Harpers Ferry and Reconstruction history. With my career hopes and academic interests in mind, I knew that the public history program at the University of Massachusetts offered an exceptional, educational opportunity, and a pathway to service with the National Parks. The program’s focus on memory studies as well as historic site interpretation fully prepared me for connecting local and national audiences with their history, and upon graduation I accepted a position with History Associates in Rockville, MD.
John Dickson (M.A., 2014) Foreign Service Officer (Retired), U.S. Department of State (Pittsfield, MA)
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 (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. I published a memoir entitled History Shock: When History Collides with Foreign Relations in 2021 with University of Kansas Press.
Shuko Tamao (M.A., 2014) Postdoctoral fellow, The National Museum of American History (Washington D.C.)
I grew up in Hiroshima where there is little historical continuity in its landscape. The memory and the past were erased. I grew up in such a landscape and thought this absence of the memory; the detachment from the past was a universal experience. I did not want to believe it; I rebelled against it.
After working at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, I lived and travelled to various countries, hoping to absorb what lies beyond my initial life experience. I have worked and volunteered to hear the lives of my fellow neighbors through the lens of my camera, by the crumbling walls of abandoned buildings, across the counter at public libraries, and beyond the prison wall of rural Midwest. My passion started from engaging with my community and I have been supported by grateful neighbors and colleagues who have helped me pursue my intellectual journey.
I am interested in the development of the asylum in 19th and 20th century Massachusetts. I pay a close attention to the interaction between people and the built environment. My encounter of state hospital cemeteries was the crucial moment for the development of my academic interest. Why and how could people's identities be reduced to numbers? What were their life stories? What is madness? I became aware of those questions while writing my blog the Reversed View of Massachusetts where I document and gather the voices of forgotten and/or extraordinary people who I meet in everyday life. I hope that my training in public history can help me to continue telling "people's history."
During my Master's, I researched the history of the Psychiatric Survivors Movement as well as the Disability Rights Movement by processing the papers for a Boston-based activist, Judi Chamberlin, at the UMass Special Collections and Universty Archives. As a PhD student at the University at Buffalo, I hope to continue my research into these areas. I was also a Career Diversity fellow in the American Historical Association's Career Diversity Implementation Grants program, and after completing my degree held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Buffalo Center for Disability Studies. In September 2021 I began a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Museum of American History.
Jacob Orcutt (M.A., 2014) Coordinator of Onsite Services, Connecticut’s Old State House (Hartford, 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. Upon graduation I accepted a position as Coordinator of Onsite Services, Connecticut's Old State House, CT.
Jill Dwiggins (2013) Senior Journal Manager, Oxford University Press (Cary, NC)
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 worked 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. From 2013 to 2015, I served as a junior editor for The Massachusetts Review. In November 2016 I joined the Oxford University Press as a production editor, and now serve as one of the Press's senior journal managers.
Jonathan Haeber (2013) Field Services Director, California Preservation Foundation (San Francisco, 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. I also serve on the City of Richmond’s Historic Preservation Commission and NCPH conference committees, and am currently a member of the AIA San Francisco Historic Resources.
Elizabeth Harlow (2013) Historian & Artifact Analyst, UMass Archaeological Services (Amherst, MA); Assistant Librarian, Worthington Library (Worthington, MA)
Elizabeth came to the study of Public History from the UMass department of Anthropology, with a focus on Historical Archaeology. Her formal internship requirement was spent creating a historic structures report for Mission House as the Jeanine Rioux Intern for The Trustees of Reservations, though Elizabeth later completed curatorial internships at the Berkshire Museum and Strawbery Banke Museum as well. Research under the European Studies program took her to England and Wales to investigate the interpretation of history in open-air museums. Then her dissertation, Mind the Gap: Materiality of gendered landscapes in Deerfield, Massachusetts, ca. 1870--ca. 1920, explored the world of a community of historic preservation activists in Deerfield, Massachusetts, analyzing not only factors that shaped their work but also the forces that contributed to their marginalization during the early twentieth century. Elizabeth has served as the Field Director of the Summer Field School in Archaeology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and works as a historian and artifact analyst at Archaeological Services there. Additionally, she holds the position of Assistant Librarian at the Worthington Library. Her article, "Gendered Landscapes: Women, Materiality, and Historical Memory in Deerfield, Massachusetts," appeared in the 2019 issue of Historical Archaeology.
Jaimie Kicklighter (2013) Collections Archivist, Alabama Department of Archives and History (Montgomery, AL)
I came to the UMass Public History Program 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. In the course of the project, I discovered the DEFA Film Library on the UMass campus and grew curious about the history and public history program here. I was fortunate to have ample opportunities to work in the UMass Special Collections and University Archives while completing my degree and decided to pursue archival work as a career. Since my time at UMass Amherst, I have worked in academic and government archives. I currently work as a Collections Archivist at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery, Alabama where I describe and care for archival collections.
Sarah Marrs (2013) Regional Philanthropy Officer, American Red Cross (Minneapolis, MN)
When I began my undergraduate studies at St. Olaf College, in Northfield, Minnesota, I had a major in mind, but no plans on how to leverage my knowledge for a career. While I dutifully completed the courses for a degree in Mathematics, St. Olaf’s liberal arts focus allowed me to pursue numerous other interests. By the end of my freshman year, it was clear that my “fun” classes were the building blocks of an American Studies major, which laid the groundwork for my future interest in public history.
I had the pleasure of working at an exhibit on the Titanic for the Science Museum of Minnesota one summer, and that experience exposed me to the vast world of museum work. Later that year, I researched, wrote, fabricated, and installed an exhibit at the Northfield Historical Society on the town’s Carnegie Library to celebrate the building’s centennial. The next summer, I interned for the Washington County Historical Society, where I worked at the Warden's House Museum, giving tours and developed a coloring book based on 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 build my skills as a historian and engage with questions about how best to communicate important stories to the public. In the summer of 2012, while working as the Development Intern at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, I unexpectedly found that fundraising was the perfect career to blend my mathematics background and public history story-telling skills. After graduation, I worked as the Assistant Tutor in Historic Deerfield's Summer Fellowship Program, and later joined the staff of the Development Department. In 2015 I returned to Minnesota, and accepted a position as Annual Fund Coordinator for Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis. I served as the Senior Manager of Individual Giving for that organization, where I managed the annual fund, data collection and reporting, and oversaw development communications. In 2021 I accepted a position as Regional Philanthropy Officer at American Red Cross.
Rusty Annis (2012) Recording Engineer, Oral Historian, History Teacher (Belchertown, MA)
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. Today Rusty continues to own Shoestring Studio, while also working as a history teacher at Pioneer Valley Christian Academy.
Katherine Davis (2012) Independent Consultant
Katherine Davis--an independent consultant who worked for museums in fundraising and audience development--pursued the certificate in Public History while a student in the Architecture + Design MA degree in Historic Preservation. Along the way she completed an internship with the Cheshire County (Keene, New Hampshire) Historical Society in which she developed experience in exhibition development, planning and mounting an exhibition on historic taverns. She spent time as an intern at Chesterwood, the Stockbridge, Massachusetts, home of sculptor Daniel Chester French. In October 2013 she became director of the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation, and is currently an independent consultant.
Erik Ingmundsun (2012) Paraeducator, Guilford High School (Guilford, 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.
From 2013 to 2016 I worked as Supervisor of Interpretation at the Mystic Seaport Museum where I hired, trained, and evaluated the job performance of a portion of their guide staff. I also worked developing some new initiatives to evaluate and improve the visitor experience, and make exhibits more accessible and visitor-friendly. In October 2016 I accepted the position of the Director of Interpretation at Mystic Seaport. In August 2021, I joined Guilford High School in Guilford, CT as a Paraeducator.
Emily Oswald (2012) Ph.D. Candidate, University of Oslo (Norway)
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.
After graduation I worked for Harvard University, supporting the Ford Fellowship program, and later the Trustees of Reservations, where I was the Digital Archives Assistant in the Library and Research Center. In 2014 I moved to Oslo, Norway, where I joined the staff of the University of Oslo. In February 2016, I joined the Norwegian Research Council-funded project, MEDIASCAPES: Innovation in Knowledge and Mediation Practices as a PhD candidate. I’m based in the Mediate Research Group at the Department of Education, University of Oslo.
Stephania Villar (2012) Digital Marketing Manager, Penguin Random House (New York, NY)
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 processing Special Collections for digitization, developing finding guides for greater public access, and raising awareness of the collections through social media. In 2015, Stephania became the Marking Specialist for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. In 2019, she joined the staff of the San Diego Natural History Museum as their Digital Communications Manager. In 2022, Stephania accepted a position with Penguin Random House as their Digital Marketing Manager.
Elizabeth Bradley (2012) Program Coordinator, Emily Dickinson Museum (Amherst, MA)
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 worked with the Environmental Educator and the Forest Project Manager on creating and delivering programming for Pre-K to high school kids. In March 2017, she joined the staff of the Emily Dickinson Museum, where she develops public programs for the public as well as K-12 audiences.
Jessica Frankenfield (2012) Programs & Communications Associate, American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia, PA)
Before attending UMass, I completed my B.A. in History at Temple University and held jobs or internships at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Newberry Library, the Powel House in Philadelphia, the Montgomery County Historical Society (PA), and the Pearl S. Buck House.
My field work at UMass 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.
After graduation, I worked in UMass Amherst IT as a communications coordinator, writing for the website and planning events. I have since translated my training in public history and communications into a position as the Programs and Communications Associate at the American Philosophical Society. I am responsible for the Society's social media presence, other communications including the monthly e-newsletter and press releases, and coordinate adult public programs.
Jessie MacLeod (2012) Associate Curator, Historic Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens (Mount Vernon, 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. In 2016 I was delighted to serve as lead curator for Lives Bound Together: Slavery at George Washington's Mount Vernon, exploring the lives of the enslaved at Mount Vernon and George Washington's shifting views on slavery over the course of his life and political career.
John Morton (2012) Visiting Assistant Professor, Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, PA)
I came to UMass to study early America, and soon merged it with Public History. I love museums of all shapes and sizes, and I already had a bit of PH work experience at the Astors' Beechwood Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. I’m also fascinated by monuments and memorials, and the popular historical narratives of TV, theater, and the movies. At UMass I did a variety of projects. I collaborated with two colleagues on an exhibit for the Trustees of Reservations, about Elizabeth Freeman, an enslaved woman from Massachusetts who won her freedom in court. I led a program at the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, in which local teenagers studied historic interpretation and then wrote a new landscape tour. I helped pilot an Amherst area program called "Artifact Stories," which involved bringing artifacts from the Amherst History Museum to senior centers and assisted living facilities. 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.
After UMass I went to Boston College - seven years as a graduate student, three as a visiting assistant professor. My dissertation, "Making Nations: The Northeastern Borderlands in an Age of Revolution, 1760-1820," focuses on migration and state building in British North America and New England. I am most interested in how church networks – Protestant and Catholic, serving both indigenous and white communities – helped create a permanent border between the U.S. and the future Canada. My work has received support from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, and the Omohundro Institute/National Endowment for the Humanities. I taught both undergraduate and graduate level courses at BC, always with a strong public history component.
Now I am the David H. Burton Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. On the teaching side this makes me a visiting assistant professor, with classes in American and Public History. But the really exciting part is that I am also developing and leading public history projects all around the city.
Richard Anderson (2011) Assistant Professor of Practice in Public History, Moravian University (Bethlehem, PA)
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 continued studying U.S. political and urban history in the Ph.D. program at Princeton University. My foundation in public history greatly enriched my doctoral studies, informing everything from the research questions I asked to the way I wrote to the projects I contributed to while completing my dissertation. Although Princeton lacked a robust public history community, the contacts I cultivated at UMass Amherst allowed me to build a professional network of colleagues in the Greater Philadelphia and New Jersey region, as well as across the country.
As a doctoral student, I served as a resident at Chicago’s National Public Housing Museum. I also co-founded two initiatives: Voices of Princeton, a community oral history project sponsored by the Historical Society of Princeton and Princeton Public Library, and UNOW & Then, a multi-media project documenting the history of an innovative feminist daycare center founded by the local National Organization for Women chapter in 1970. After completing my degree at Princeton, I served for two years as a postdoctoral scholar in The Humanities Institute at Pennsylvania State University. In that role, I coordinated community engagement efforts and developed and implemented the curricular and outreach components of the Institute’s Mellon-supported Public Humanities Initiative (PHI). I also co-caught an undergraduate introductory public humanities course rooted in community-based partnerships. My article, “Taking Labor History Public,” appeared in the March 2020 issue Labor: Studies in Working-Class History. I am currently at work on a book manuscript, Windy City Spoils: Machine Politics and Liberalism in Richard J. Daley’s Chicago, based on my dissertation. Since 2015 I have been an editor for the NCPH blog, History@Work and I currently serve on the organization’s Advocacy Committee.
In August 2020 I moved to a new position as Public Programming and Exhibitions Manager for the Humanities Action Lab, based at Rutgers University-Newark. As one of HAL’s two Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows, I support our university- and community partners for two ongoing projects, States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue of Local Histories and Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice. UMass is a longtime HAL partner, so it feels as though my public history journey has come full-circle.
Richard is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice in Public History at Moravian University in Bethlehem, PA.
Kayla Haveles Hopper (2011) Vendor Manager, Amazon Go (MA)
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.
After graduation I accepted a position as the Outreach Coordinator at the American Antiquarian Society and later became the AAS Director of Outreach. In January 2022, I joined Amazon as a Vendor Manager for Amazon Go.
Morgan Hubbard (2011) Account Manager, BookBub (Providence, RI)
During his time at UMass Morgan created the award-winning web exhibit, "Uncertain Futures: Early Science Fiction in Cold War America" as a part of his summer internship with the UMass Special Collections and University Archives. His exhibit, focusing on science fiction in the 1950s, won the National Council on Public History Student Project Award for 2011. "This award is given to an outstanding public history student project initiated as academic coursework and implemented and recognized beyond the classroom for its contribution to the field of public history."
To view Morgan's exhibit please click on the following link: Uncertain Futures :: Early Sci Fi
Jennifer Kleinman (2011) Financial and Development Coordinator, Northeastern University (Boston, 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 centered on understanding how U.S. history has been taught and how it shapes national memory and our concepts of American identities. After graduation I accepted a position as Academic Advisor for Student Athletes at Lesley University; in 2015 I moved to Northeastern University, where I am Financial and Development Coordinator in the library.
Jessica (Monti) Wall (2011) Purchasing Coordinator, Finance Administration and Human Resources Department for Residential Life, UMass Amherst (Amherst, MA)
I graduated with a BA in Economics and History from UMass Amherst and thought that I was heading into the business world. However, I felt as if I was traveling down the wrong path so one month after graduation, I began working at UMass as full-time staff. I knew that if I strayed far from the university setting, I might not return. One day, while considering my options that included finding a master’s program or settling down in among the ranks of full-timers, I stumbled on the Public History web site. It seemed to me that I found a program that matched my interests and personality. After graduation in 2011, I went to work for UMass as the Purchasing Coordinator in the Finance Administration and Human Resources Department for Residential Life.
Margo Shea (2010) Assistant Professor, Salem State University (Salem, MA)
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. From July 2015 - August 2017 I was on leave from Salem State University completing a Mellon Fellowship at the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian and Place-Based Studies at Sewanee - University of the South to develop the Places Project. In summer 2020, my book Derry City: Memory and Political Struggle in Northern Ireland was published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Bill Allen (2009) Archaeological Collections Manager, University of Alabama Museums, Office of Archaeological Research (Moundville, AL)
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) Associate Dean for Special Collections at Unversity of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Arkansas)
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. I worked there from 2011-2017 as the curator for 19th and 20th century American history and local history manuscript, and related print collections. I also participated in the department’s outreach and instruction effort to connect our collections with the university’s curriculum.
While at Rochester, I pursued my EdD in Higher Education Administration, with a focus on leadership development. I’ve found it’s incredibly important to consider the wider landscape of libraries, and my coursework and research have afforded me that opportunity. After completing my program, I was the successful candidate for the Head of Special Collections at the University of Arkansas, where I moved to in 2017. That department includes 12 faculty and staff, with collections that document politics, the arts, and architecture.
My time at UMass impressed upon me the importance of professional engagement, and I have continue to serve in national associations, most recently serving on two communities as part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association.
Niki Lefebvre (2009) Director, Natick Historical Society (Natick, MA)
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 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.
In 2016, I completed my PhD in American Studies at Boston University where my dissertation topic was "Filene's on Washington Street: Modernity, Culture, and Commercial Amusement, 1800-1940." I went on to become the Morton L. Mandel Presidential Fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and am currently the director of the Natick Historical Society.
Na Li (Lina) (2009) Research Fellow, Centre for Public History, Zhejiang University (China)
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; later, in her role at Chongqing University (as Assistant Professor/Research Fellow at the The Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences) and now Zhejiang University (where she is founding editor of the journal Public History), she is working to introduce Public History practice to China.
Stephanie Pasternak (2009) Freelance Writer & Public Historian (Florence, MA)
My interest in community history began during my years as an ESL teacher in a public high school in Boston where I worked with immigrant students on community oral history projects and adapted the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum to address student needs. My work with the grassroots women's oral history project, the Vally Women's History Collaborative, as well as the historical commission in Cummington, Massachusetts raised questions about the role of the professional historian as an insider or outsider of a community as well as the impact of the ethnoculural background of the community and historian has on the process and outcome of a project. In September 2003, together with my fellow graduate student Margo Shea (2010 alumna) and program director Marla Miller, I presented the results of some sustained thinking on these and related issues, cultivated in a directed readings course on community and local history, to the national meeting of the American Association for State and Local History in Providence, Rhode Island. In summer 2005 I served as a panelist at a Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities conference on writing local history, "Outside the Textbook: Writing History for Everyone," discussing my effort to write a scholarly but accessible narrative of notable moments in the history of Cummington, Massachusetts. Since then I have worked with the Cummington Historical Society to create interpretive materials about the local abolition movement. I am also a member of the David Ruggles Center for History and Education.
Click to view Stephanie's master's thesis, "A New Vision of Local History Narrative: Writing History in Cummington, Massachusetts".
Kate Preissler (2009) | West Region Director, Parks Operations - Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
While at UMass, I discovered my love of cultural landscapes and community history. I became fascinated by how physical places influence individuals and communities and how people can leave an imprint on the places they have occupied. In my career I have combined that learning with my experience in environmental education and outdoor recreation leadership across many roles. Currently, I am the Regional Director for the State Parks in Western Mass, which cover a broad range of historical, cultural, natural, and recreational sites protected and maintained for public use.
Mona Minor (2008) Tax Collector (Bernardston, MA)
I graduated magna cum laude from Smith College with a B.A. in psychology. While at Smith I studied human identity and the influence of social milieus on individual development, personality, and decision making. In my graduate studies I continued to explore identity as it is situated within historical contexts, focusing on women and children in colonial and early America. I studied the influence of collective memory on identity through coursework and research on Holocaust memorials, Civil War and World War II reenactors, and flashbulb memories of public events like the Kennedy assassination and 9/11. Most recently, I have immersed myself in the study of material culture, examining how individuals and societies have used objects and possessions as tools to shape identity. I am presently researching and writing a book about the social construction of clutter, combining my interest in psychology and history with my passion for flea markets, creative writing, and domestic spaces.
Jeffrey Mish (2008) Genealogist (Hadley, MA)
I am interested in the documentary film aspect of Public History, as well as looking at local/community history pertaining to ethnic islands of various immigrant groups residing within the United States. In this respect, my primary focus at UMass was studying men and women who came from the partitioned lands of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late 1800s and early 1900s, such as Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Poles and Belarusians. I have also been intensely interested in the Polonization of Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Belarusians both within the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Hadley, Massachusetts, area, which includes Amherst (I grew up in Hadley, which is right next to Amherst). The topic of Polonization of the Eastern Europeans in the Hadley, Massachusetts, area was the subject of my undergraduate thesis at Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire, where I graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2006 with a B.A in Anthropology; a minor in History; and a certificate in Global Citizenship. I have since completed a four-hour documentary film chronicling the history of the Eastern European population of Hadley and how it changed over time, which aired on the local Hadley television station.
John Diffley (2007) Professor of History, Springfield Technical Community College (Springfield, MA)
I first became interested in public history as an undergraduate at SUNY New Paltz where I worked with the town historian in the production of a community history. My studies here at UMASS led to explorations of museum and historic site interpretation, historic preservation, and museum ethics. While at UMASS I worked on several public history projects, including the creation of a virtual exhibit examining the boyhood home site of W.E.B. Du Bois (now part of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library and Special Collections website). In summer 2006 I completed my internship at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in Manhattan, contributing to one of the museum's newest projects, the recreation of a nineteenth-century German saloon. In my last semesters I worked as a consultant toward the creation of an exhibit for a private company in Holyoke, Massachusetts, a relationship that has continued even as I completed my degree in spring 2007. I then became involved in museum-K12 partnerships as a staff member at Springfield Technical Community College. After graduation, I completed a law degree at the Western New England University School of Law. Today I am a professor of History, Program Coordinator for Liberal Arts/General Studies, and Honors Program Director at Springfield Technical Community College.
Kathleen Flynn Neumann (2007) Manager of School and Interpretive Programs, Maine Historical Society (Portland, MA)
I first fell in love with the idea of working in public history when I began working at the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, MA my first summer out of high school. I worked there for five years as a tour guide and historic interpretor, and I loved sharing history with the public and meeting people from all over the world. I also spent a summer giving ghost story tours in Plymouth, MA, which was really neat! In the summer of 2006, after my first year in the public history program, I completed an internship at Historic Deerfield working as the assistant tutor to the Summer Fellows. At Historic Deerfield, I assisted the Curator of Academic Programs with the design and implementation of the curriculum and activities of the summer program, and I helped the students with their individual research projects. I was also thrilled to develop for Historic Deerfield a project of my own: tour enhancements - including a possible audio tour - to the self-guided tour at the Stebbins House. I have always been intrigued by the way the public approaches history; what brings them to historic places, what are they looking for, what do they expect to learn and what do they want to take away? I returned to UMASS after spending four years there as an undergrad, because I knew the university boasted a strong program where I could learn more about how to better present history to the public in museums, historic homes, and at historic sites. I graduated with an MA in History and a certificate in Public History from UMASS in 2005. As an undergrad, I had been trained to be a history teacher, and soon after earning my MA I was offered a job teaching 7th grade Social Studies in Walpole, MA. I was so excited to take what I learned at UMASS to my career as a teacher. In 2014, I accepted a position with the Maine Historical Society as Manager of School and Interpretive Programs. I hope to be able to excite students about history by using museums and also to teach them how to use museums themselves as educational tools.
Claire Blaylock (2007) Executive Director, Architecture Foundation of Oregon, Portland, OR
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 Trustees of Reservations, 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 as well as compiling a script for an audio tour for the Emily Dickinson Museum, building on experience that I developed during a course-based field service project. I also gained skills using GIS as a research tool through coursework at Mount Holyoke College.
Immediately following graduation I moved to Washington D.C. where I was privileged to work for the Smithsonian in both a paid and volunteer capacity. In 2008 I started work with History Associates, Incorporated. I served as a consultant and collections specialist on several large projects. In 2011 I stepped back from the museum field to work in the nonprofit sector. For two years I worked as the Operations Administrator and later the Executive Director of HALT, an organization of Americans for Legal Reform. In 2014 my family relocated to Clackamas County, just outside of Portland, Oregon. In March of 2015 I was named the Executive Director of the Clackamas County Historical Society, operating two museums in Oregon City: The Museum of the Oregon Territory and the Stevens-Crawford House. Now, I serve as the Executive Director of the Architecture Foundation of Oregon.
Jill Ogline Titus (2007) Associate Director, Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA)
I first came to UMass for its Public History program. Its conception of public history as a discipline tied to academic history and the study of memory, encompassing but not limited to the more "practical" professional fields, set it apart from others and piqued my interest. While an MA student, I was involved in field projects with Historic Deerfield/Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and the Greenfield Historical Commission, assisting with monument reinterpretation and preparing a National Register of Historic Places nomination. My summer internship with the Northeast Regional Office of the National Park Service led to three years involvement with the NPS Civic Engagement Initiative. In the meantime, I decided to pursue a Ph.D., which opened up opportunities to prepare a comps field in Public History; spend a summer helping a Concord-based nonprofit, the Walden Woods Project, develop a project on Thoreau & Conscience; and serve as program assistant for the UMass History Institute, an outreach arm to K-12 teachers. Upon graduation I was thrilled to accept a position as Associate Director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, where I oversaw an expanding writing fellowships program serving both scholars and nonacademic writers. In 2012, I accepted a position as Associate Director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
Stacie Sosinski (2007) K-12 Teacher (Bayport, NY)
As a former teacher with a B.A. in History and Secondary Education from Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Stacie came to UMass interested in Museum Education and learning to incorporate Public History into classroom settings, and interest sparked by a living history internship at Old Bethpage Restoration Village in Bethpage, N.Y., where she later developed an internship program. In 2006 as an intern herself at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, N.H., she designed and implemented new summer educational programs. The internship allowed her to utilize her knowledge of material culture, oral history, and public history gained in the program, while in her course work, she conducted an oral history of the post-war development of UMass-Amherst campus architecture as well as a study of landscape and memory on Fire Island, a particularly exciting project for this native Long Islander. Having heard of the UMass program from her undergraduate advisor, Stacie is happy to report it has advanced her academic and professional goals just as she'd planned; upon graduation Stacie returned to the school district where she taught before beginning her graduate work, where she seeks to bring together her K-12 and public history skills and experiences.
Jayne Bernhard (2006) Planner, City of Joliet (Joliet, IL)
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, Illinois. 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. In 2016, she began work as the Principal Planner in the Community Development and Planning Division at the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission, before moving back to Illinois a year later to continue her career with the City of Joliet.
Bridget Gurtler (2006) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Institute for the History of Medicine (Baltimore, MD)
After completing her MA, Bridget entered the PhD program at Rutgers University. Her 2013 disseration, "Synthetic Conception: Artificial Insemination and the Transformation of Family and Reproduction in 19th and 20th Century America," investigated the scientific and social forces that uncoupled sex from reproduction, revolutionized understandings of family, and laid the foundations for the modern fertility industry. Her work on Daisy Bates and the NAACP was published in Mary Trigg and Alison Bernstein's 2016 book Junctures in Women's Leadership: Social Movements. She completed postdoctoral fellowships at Johns Hopkins University's Institute for the History of Medicine, and Princeton's Woodrow Wilson Institute. In 2019, she began teaching history in The Haverford School's Upper School.
Meghan Gelardi Holmes (2006) Curator, Gibson House Museum (Boston, MA); and Curator, Colonial Society of Massachusetts (Boston, MA)
Meghan graduated from UMass Amherst’s Public History program in 2006, after completing a BA in History at American University in Washington, DC. Thanks to a summer internship, her first job out of graduate school was as the Assistant Curator of the Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College in nearby South Hadley. Since then, her work has been primarily in small museums, working with objects in service of audience engagement. Meghan is now the curator of the Gibson House Museum, where she oversees the care and interpretation of the collections at a small historic house in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. She is also the curator of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.
Caitlin Shuster (2006) Administrative/Executive Assistant, The Energy Consortium Inc. (Lexington, MA)
Caitlin came to UMass with a background in public history having worked as a historical interpreter at Historic Huguenot Street for eight years. After graduating with her Master degree and Certificate in Public History, Caitlin went on to work for The Energy Consortium, a non-profit which works to "find solutions to the technical, economic, and marketing challenges facing the growing solar industry," as an Administrative/Executive Assistant.
Kate Navarra Thibodeau (2005) Independent Historical Consultant (Seattle, WA)
I came to this department with a strong background in Anthropology and Archaeology. The classes and projects I encountered in the Public History Program have introduced me to a world of museums; professional experiences like conferences; a network of museums and projects to work with; and a supportive environment. For five years, I worked as the Curator of Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA and installed exhibits including: the Settlement House Movement, using the Skinner Coffee House in Holyoke, MA as an example; a historical exhibit on The Orchards Golf Course in South Hadley; a textile exhibit; and an series of exhibits on immigration and migration to Holyoke. My other duties include evaluating potential donations to the collections, overseeing the appraisal, cataloguing, and box listings, provide reference services for the public to both collections, oversee volunteers, interns and employees who work on or with the collections, work to increase the public knowledge of materials through public programming, publications and web content, and monitor budget needs for both collections and track donations for the collection. In 2008, I was promoted to City Historian, with additional duties like working with educational organizations and schools and other city departments, a position I held until I moved to the west coast a few years ago. I have recently begun working on an oral history project. I am also the author of two books: Holyoke: The Skinner Family and Wistariahurst, and Destination Holyoke.
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) Departmental Environmental Clearance Officer, Office of Environment and Energy, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (Washington, DC)
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) Product Leader, OfferLogic (Waltham, MA).
I have a B.A. in Film from Emerson College with a minor in photography. My career interests are in Visual Arts archives, historical research for American documentary filmmaking, and multi-media exhibitions. My other academic fields at UMass were queer studies and the globalization and dynamics of social movements. Since UMass combines Museum Studies with History, I was able to study a range of topics in the program that pertain to my career goals. I have interned in the Audio-Visual Archives at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, the DEFA Film Library at UMass, as well as at the Harvard Film Archive, Harvard University. I worked with the Art and Technology Department to develop an exhibition at the Firehouse Theatre in Harlem, New York, proving historic visual material for the exhibit, and also to provide technical work for the theatrical performances. After completing my M.A., I decided to pursue another graduate degree, and entered the Film Studies program at New York University. I was Video Platform Manager at VivaKi Nerve Center, became Vice President of Platform Strategy at Optimatic Media, Inc. in May 2013, and as of March 2017 am product leader at OfferLogic.
Jennifer Cadwell-Vaughan (2004), Teacher Education & Curriculum Development Program Manager, Minnesota Historical Society (Minneapolis, MN)
A social studies teacher before she decided to pusue an MA in History, Jennifer worked for the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Historic House Museum in nearby Hadley, Massachusetts during her years as a student at UMass. After graduation she returned home to Minnesota, where she accepted a position at the Oliver Kelley Homestead, a living history museum operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. From 2005 until 2016, she served Education Outreach Specialist for MHS, where among other things she helped produce Northern Lights, the well-received social studies textbook and curriculum for Minnesota sixth graders. She is now the Society's Teacher Education & Curriculum Development Program Manager.
Emily Fillebrowne (Briggs) Vincent (2004), Community Organizer (Denver, CO)
I came to the Public History program at UMass after growing up in southern California and attending Kenyon College for my undergraduate degree in History. I entered the program with previous experience in archiving and historic preservation. My summer internship was spent at the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society. While obtaining my degrees, I focused on War/Peace studies, specifically on the interaction between the home front and the war front. After graduation, I worked for a cultural resource consulting firm, Richard Grubb & Associates, in Cranbury, NJ, as a Historian/Architectural Historian. After that, I had extensive experience in administrative support and coordination for various large research universities and non-profits.
Most recently, I have become a community organizer on issues of racial and social justice, first in Arlington, Virginia, and now in Denver, Colorado. My history/public history background has honed my analytical and research skills and my ability to communicate information in a relevant and meaningful way to a diverse population. I hope to continue my exploration of the impact of conflict in society and to look for ways to improve community problem-solving skills and inspire culture change. Understanding historical context and the value of individuals' lived experiences has been essential to my work.
Angela Goebel Bain (2003) Curator, Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME)
My interest in public history began while I was interning for my M.Ed. at the Cultural Center in Kahnawake, a Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) territory outside Montreal. I learned about the Deerfield raid of 1704 from the Kanienkehaka perspective. Eventually, I began working at the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association's (PVMA) Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, where one of their major exhibits has traditionally been the 1704 raid. Shortly after becoming the Museum's curatorial assistant, I entered the UMass Public History program as a part-time student, and found that whatever course I participated in each semester greatly enhanced my work. In my Museum/Historic Site interpretation course, for example, I created an exhibit for the Museum, and turned my research into a paper published in the Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife, 2000. I became the project manager for several National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute for Museum and Library Services grants that sustained PVMA's museum-school partnership, training teachers to integrate primary resources into their classes, and oversaw the development of the American Centuries website. I was the primary researcher and content editor of PVMMA's award-winning website--Raid on Deerfield: The Many Stories of 1704--and co-curated the exhibition, "Remembering 1704: Context and Commemoration of the Deerfield Raid," which also opened in February, 2004. From 2006 - 2016 I worked as a Curator at the Illinois State Museum. Today, I am a curator at the Maine State Museum in Augusta. My coursework in the Public History program provided me with a theoretical framework which enabled me to confidently address a wide variety of both content and administrative issues in my day to day work. Drs. Glassberg and Miller are inspiring and have been and continue to be extremely supportive in and out of the classroom.
David Cline (2003) Associate Professor of History and the Digital Humanities, San Diego State University (San Diego, CA)
David Cline received his Master's degree from UMass with a certificate in Public History in 2003. While in the program, he completed an internship that combined his interests in oral histoy and documentary production, spending a year interviewing African-American veterans for American RadioWorks' NPR documentary "Korea: The Unfinished War." Check out his Reporter's Notebook here. Cline published Twice Forgotten: African Americans and the Korean War, an Oral History with UNC Press in January 2022.
He also made a short video documentary, "For the People," for an exhibit UMass students created on the Skinner Coffee House at Holyoke's Wisteriahurst Museum, online here.
A fieldwork assignment in the Introduction to Public History class led to an ongoing relationship with the Valley Women's History Collaborative and after the program, Cline continued his oral history work with the VWHC, documenting reproductive rights history in the Pioneer Valley. He is the author of Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Controla collected work of edited oral histories based on that work, from the Palgrave Studies in Oral History series, published by Palgrave MacMillan (St. Martin's) in September 2005. David was awarded the National Council on Public History's HRA New Professional Award in 2004. After leaving Amherst, David completed his doctorate at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was Associate Director of the Southern Oral History Program. He later became Professor of Public History at Virginia Tech. In 2017, David joined the faculty of San Diego State University.
David Favolaro (2003) Curator of Research, Lower East Side Tenement Museum (New York, NY)
While at UMass I pursued study in collections management and museum interpretation with a focus on the history of New York City. I chose UMass-Amherst for the unique blend of academic and practical training as well as the unrivalled community of scholars and museum professionals that is the Five College Public History Program. Under the tutelage of professors from each of the Five Colleges, I had the opportunity to apply the theoretical lessons of the classroom in a variety of settings including the design of a historic markers program for Smith College. I interned at the New-York Historical Society in New York City helping develop institutional policy for the collections management department, and worked as a research assistant for Professor Max Page on an exhibition entitled "Destroying New York: An Exhibition of Premonitions, Fantasies, and Realities" planned for the New-York Historical Society in 2004. After graduation, I accepted a position in the research department of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, one of New York City's leading museums.
Erik Gilg (2003) Group Publisher, The Quarto Group (Minneapolis, MN)
I graduated from the University of Virginia in 1998 before enrolling in the history program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. While there I worked with faculty at the UMass Amherst, Smith College, and Amherst College, and had internships with the National Park Service, where I helped write a new Historic Resource Study for Lindenwald, President Martin Van Buren's retirement estate in NY, as well with the University of Massachusetts Press. After graduating I entered the publishing industry and have worked at Macmillan Publishers in NYC, Quayside Publishing in Minneapolis, and Zenith Press, an imprint focused on history, military history, and aviation. I am currently Group Publisher - Minneapolis Imprints at The Quarto Group and manage the editorial, production, and design departments.
Kris Woll (2003) Instructional Designer, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
While working on my M.A. in history and certificate in public history, I was involved in a number of projects, including the Valley Women's History Collaborative oral history project, PVMA's American Centuries educational website and Teaching American History program, and the History Department's History Institute. Since graduation, I've used my skills and experience in educational program management, curriculum development, and online learning in a wide variety of ways, in roles ranging from education program coordination at the Brooklyn Historical Society and Gotham Center for New York City History to a role as an instructional designer at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health. today I teach occasional workshops and courses on designing and sustaining a creative practice at The Loft Literary Center; in 2019 I received the Loft's Excellence in Teaching Fellowship, and with it a week-long summer writing residency at the Madeleine Island School of the Arts.
Abby Chandler (2002) Professor of History, UMass Lowell (Lowell, MA)
I came into the program with a background in living history and museum education. While at UMass, I interned with Mystic Seaport; did a project for the Skinner Museum in South Hadley; and researched 18th century petticoats at Historic Northampton for my material culture project. After graduating, I completed on a Ph.D in early American history at the University of Maine. I am now a professor of early American history at UMass Lowell and frequently use material culture in my lectures. I am also working with the Tsongas Industrial History Center to build more connections between the academic and museum communities here in Lowell.
Kristin Morris (2001) Cisco Archivist, Computer History Museum (Los Altos, CA)
I received my B.A. in history from the University of Virginia in 1995. At the time, I had never heard the words "public history" but knew I wanted to have a history career outside the academy. I came to UMass in the fall of 1998 to pursue my dream. How lucky I was to find a whole group of people of the same mind! While at UMass, I had the opportunity to do two projects for Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke with UMass Public History alumna Sandra Krein. I also coordinated the history department's History Institute (an outreach program bringing together faculty and K-12 teachers) for two semesters and the inaugural "Voices from Three Centuries" teachers' institute. After completing my coursework, I returned to my home state of California. For six years I worked at History San José, where I served in a number of roles, including online exhibits curator, historic site manager, school program coordinator, and volunteer coordinator. Until 2011, I was the curator at the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, a particularly unique position in that we didn't actually have a museum. In 2019, a new museum opened in a national historic landmark building, the Old Mint. My job was to identify and acquire - through gift or loan - objects and artifacts for the exhibits in the Old Mint, as our own collection was quite small and fairly insignificant. It has been a truly wonderful adventure to meet my colleagues in history museums and associations around the Bay Area to pitch a collaboration in sharing objects for this great project.
In October 2021, Kristin joined the Computer History Museum as their Cisco Archivist.
Bree Beal (2002) Director of Development at BEAT-Quality Children’s Theater (Bend, OR)
After graduating with her MA from UMass, Bree moved to Oregon where she was a Board Member and Volunteer with Sparrow Clubs USA, “a non-profit organization of school-based clubs that assist children in medical crisis and their families, both financially and emotionally.” She was also a Board Member for the Bend Area Habitat for Humanity. During this time Bree also served as a member of the Family Services and Selection Committee. In January of 2014 Bree assumed the role of Executive Director of BEAT, a non-profit children’s theater program located in Bend, Oregon. BEAT ‘s mission is “to empower youth by fostering creativity, collaboration, and self-confidence, and to enrich the quality of life and culture of our community, through Theater Arts."
Ann Chapman (2002)
As part of my joint M.A. in Landscape and Regional Planning and History/Public History, I completed an internship as an Interpretive Park Ranger at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont. This is currently the only National Park in the country with Conservation Stewardship as its theme. The 550 acre wooded estate is significant as the birthplace in 1801 of George Perkins Marsh, who wrote the book Man and Nature, a landmark book in the history of the American Conservation movement, and as the site of the first scientifically managed forest in America, planted in the 1870s and 1880s by property owner Frederick Billings. I have received the American Institute for Certified Planners 2005 prize for student projects in Applied Research. My Master's Project, a proposal for a Massachusetts Conservation and Landscape Planning Heritage Trail extending from Boston to the Appalachian Trail at Mt. Greylock, emerged from her interdisciplinary work in both Public History and Regional Planning. The inspiration for my proposal was the 150th anniversary of the publication of Thoreau's Walden as well as the work of visionary regional planner Benton MacKaye, a long-time Shirley, Massachusetts resident, and father of the Appalachian Trail. The Heritage Trail links historic sites like the Boston Common, Walden Pond and the Mohawk Trail State Forest (illustrating the establishment of the Massachusetts State Forest and Reservation system and the evolution of hiking trails and trail networks) to illustrate various stages of American conservation history. The proposal may someday become a National Register Travel Itinerary, helping travelers discover the history of conservation in Massachusetts.
Charlie Tebbetts (2001) High School Teacher (South Deerfield, MA)
After teaching elementary school for five years, I thought pursuing public history would be a good practical application of my graduate studies. While studying public history, I gained a keen intellectual and practical understanding of museum and historic site presentation. Additionally, I elected to take a non-profit management class that lead to a wonderful internship that taught me the fundamentals of non-profit management and how historic institutions are run financially. After graduating I decided to return to teaching at the high school level, and today work at Frontier Regional High School in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. In some ways putting time and attention into public history might seem to have been a distraction. However, the opportunity, the example, and the creative application of studying history that public history offered me contributes daily to the way I can better teach high school students.
Gabrielle Burke (2000) Senior Account Executive and Director, Corporate Banking Platforms, Finastra (Boston, MA)
After graduating from UMass with a Masters in History and the Certificate in Public History, Gabrielle went to work at the University of Maine as their Microenterprise Development Coordinator. She has also worked as an IS Trainer and Business Manager for IDEXX Laboratories, a Senior Implementation Consultant, Enterprise Account Manager, and Account Manager at Bottomline Technologies, and now works as a Senior Account Executive at Finastra in Boston.
Richard Colton (2000) Historian (retired), Springfield Armory National Historic Site (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 Master’s 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) Associate Professor of History, Lesley University; Documentary Filmmaker (Cambridge, MA)
Ron received his B.A. in 1990 from Tufts University, where he studied clinical psychology and political science. He traveled across Africa from Morocco to Tanzania in 1990 and 1991, taught history and English for three years in Washington, D.C., and. after a brief sojourn in Prague, enrolled as a graduate student in history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In addition to receiving his master's degree and certificate in Public History in 2000, Lamothe spent four years in the UMass Academic Instructional Media Services department as a producer, videographer and editor. He also worked as a researcher and associate producer for Florentine Films/Hott Productions. Most recently, Lamothe and Terra Incognita Films moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he now lives with his wife Karen and two daughters, Madeleine and Parker. He was a Dean's Fellow and received his PhD in African history at Boston University. His films include "The Political Doctor Seuss" (which aired in fall 2004 and featured UMass faculty member Richard Minear), and "The Call of the Wild" (2007), an exploration of the travels of 24-year-old “aesthetic voyager” Chris McCandless, who starved to death in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. You can learn more about his production company, Terra Incognita Films, here.
Anne Poubeau (2000) Senior Software Technician, Bottomline Technologies (Portsmouth, NH)
While at UMass, Anne performed research toward the reinterpretation of the John F. Kennedy birthplace in Brookline, and also researched cheesemaking in the Porter-Phelps household for the Porter-Phelps-Huntington House Museum in Hadley, MA. After graduation, she landed the position of Education Director at Old York Historical Society in York, ME which she held from 2000-2008. Her duties included designing and presenting school programs, overseeing interpretation and docent training, running the fellowship program in collaboration with curator of collections, and many others. In 2008 Anne moved to Bottomline Technologies, working as a project specialist, Implementation Team Lead, and now a senior software Technician.
Steve Bromage (1999) Executive Director, Maine Historical Society (Portland, ME)
Steve Bromage earned his Master in American History and Certificate in Public History from UMass Amherst in 1999 where he focused on 20th century U.S. cultural history. During this time, Steve also served as Associate Director of the Disability History Museum, an online digital museum that promotes the study of disability history through primary documents. In 2001, Steve became the Director of Programs adn Education at the Maine Historical Society. He later became the Executive Director of the Maine Historical Society in 2012 after serving six years as the organization's Assistant Director. He is credited with the Society's growth that includes increasing both attendance and diversity as well as increasing MHS's virtual presence. He also has promoted positive relationships around the role of history in establishing community awarness and identity. Steve remains a leader in the field of digital history and participated in the creation of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. He was also actively involved in establishing and promoting the Maine Memory Network- Maine's statewide digital history museum.
Sandra Klein (1993) Historical Consultant (Longmeadow, MA)
Soon after completing the Public History Program at the University of Massachusetts, I was hired as the Director of Wistariahurst Museum, a twenty-six-room Beaux Arts mansion in Holyoke, MA. During my seven-year tenure there, I drew heavily on what I had learned in and out of the UMass classroom. While at Wistariahurst I became involved with the Emily Dickinson Homestead, as a member of the Homestead Advisory Committee and with the Bay State Historical League, as a member of the board. Until fall 2002 I served as Executive Director of the Lynn Museum, a community history museum in Lynn, MA and am now an independent consultant, as well as the 1st Vice President of the Bay State Historical League. Currently, I'm creating exhibits for area companies, including Smith & Wesson. I've been known to say that once you're a UMass Public History student, you're always a UMass Public History student - meaning that the relationships I built there continue to shape and inform my professional and personal life.
J. Michael Moore (1991) Independent Public Historian
J. Michael Moore is a public historian who has worked on a wide range of projects in New England. For his "Reflections of a Sometime Public Historian," a talk on the occasion of the program's 25th anniversary in 2011, see here. Mike directed the Northampton State Hospital Oral History Project, which chronicled the experience of work at this hospital for the mentally ill and the changes in mental health care over the last half century. As Industrial Historian at the Worcester Historical Museum he developed In Their Shirtsleeves, a permanent exhibition that tells the story of American industrial development through the experience of the people of Worcester, Massachusetts. Moore directed the project “Sogni D’Oro – Dreams of Gold,” which chronicled the experience of Italian immigrants and their descendants in Fitchburg and Leominster, Massachusetts. He served as a consultant and editor for the project Creating Eden: A Portrait of an American City through its Gardens, for the Somerville (MA) Arts Council. He has served as an instructor in the practice of oral history and the practice and potential of public history projects. He is the co-author, with David Glassberg, of “Patriotism in Orange: The Memory of World War I in a Massachusetts Town,” in Bonds of Affection: Americans Define Their Patriotism (1996) from Princeton University Press.
Margaret “Peg” Hepler (1990) Independent Historical Consultant (Pelham, MA)
More than two decades after I earned a bachelor's degree in history at the University of Wisconsin, I enrolled in the history graduate program at UMass. Fortunate to have David Glassberg as my advisor, who was enormously helpful and gave excellent advice, I concentrated on New England history in the then-new public history program. Becoming one of the first Public History graduates in 1990, I interned with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, doing community-wide architectural surveys for several Connecticut Valley towns. I continued to work with historic preservation staff at the PVPC for a few years after graduating. While in Australia, I spent a year working in the Canberra office of the Australian Heritage Commission, and was impressed with that country's close collaboration between historic, environmental, and indigenous people's interests. Working as an independent free-lancer after my return, I conducted comprehensive historic resources surveys and wrote National Register nominations, contracting with local historical commissions in many towns across Massachusetts. In the past few years I've been active in a land trust where my historical background has been valuable in identifying and saving several historic landscapes. Hoping to strengthen links between the historic and environmental communities, I've enjoyed being an activist, working to protect important places for the future. I've done historic context research for an archaeological team doing a National Park Service study in New Hampshire. Though I've reached the age at which many retire, I'm hoping to continue doing this very rewarding work. For over fifteen years I served as a member of the Board of Trustees and advisor for the Kestrel Land Trust in Amherst, Massachusetts, and have independently consulted with local historical commissions across the state.
Jean Petrovic (1990) Bibliographical Editor, Eccles Center for American Studies, British Library (London, UK)
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!