Public History at UMass

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

Beyond the borders of Massachusetts, the public history program has been active at national and international levels, working with the National Park Service, the Center for History and New Media, the National Council on Public History, the Organization of American Historians, and the H-Net scholars’ network. Our students and faculty are currently engaged in projects as close to home as Hadley, Springfield, and Boston, Massachusetts, and as far afield as Germany, Ireland, and Lebanon.

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

Places where alumni are currently employed include: the National Archives, the National Park Service, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York City, the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society, the Macmillan Group, the Illinois State Museum, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, and the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina. Internship sites in recent years have included: the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations, Colonial Williamsburg, Cliveden (a National Trust for Historic Preservation site), Monadnock Media, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

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