About the Programs

Why Study Archives and Public History Together?

Archives & Public History students processing a collection in the University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston.
Archives & Public History students beginning to process the records of the Harvest Co-op, at the University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston.

Archivists preserve and provide access to the past but they are more than custodians of records. In their decisions to acquire, arrange, describe, and provide access to material, they shape the historical record. Their choices—what to retain and discard, how to preserve, what to emphasize, and what to showcase—construct the past to a degree.

Public history student teaching elementary schools students.
Public history student teaching elementary schools students.

Public historians study the way we remember and interpret the past. Using historical methodologies to preserve, collect, present, and interpret history with and for public audiences, public historians work with historic landscapes, in museums and historic buildings, on film and the worldwide web, and with community organizations, families, and institutions. They also study public awareness and consciousness of the past.

Learning the theory, methodology, and current practices of archival science enriches the work of public historians just as understanding historians’ methodology and research needs can enhance how archivists approach their work. Today, archivists and public historians often collaborate; they utilize digital technologies and other media to maximize access to important historical resources. The archives track and public history tracks prepare students to work in digital humanities.

Why UMass Boston?
UMass Boston is an ideal choice for graduate students preparing for careers as archivists and public historians because of its urban mission; its close ties with libraries, collections, and public history institutions; and its faculty’s interest in civic engagement. The archives track and the certificate in archives are designed to prepare students for careers in archives management, and in a variety of public history settings such as museums, historical parks, and historical societies.

Our programs are unique in two ways. First, because both the Archives and Public History tracks are embedded in the history department, students gain a firm foundation in the theories of archival science and public history while also developing a specialization in an historical era/topic of interest.
Second, our classes are small and courses provide the opportunity for hands-on, active learning and practical application of theory and historical methodology in each class. We try to customize each student’s experience to match his/her career goals and interests.

 
Cross-disciplinary Opportunities
Our graduate students in the archives and public history tracks also benefit from cross-disciplinary approach that allows them to take one or more courses in the other track. Proficiency in these related fields contributes significantly to professional expertise. In addition to coursework, students complete individualized internships that add practical experience to theory.

Interested in earning a Master’s in History and specializing in Archives? Contact Professor Marilyn Morgan, Director of the Archives Program of the Master’s  in History at Marilyn.Morgan@umb.edu.

For more information about the Public History program, contact Professor Monica Pelayo, Director of the Public History Program of the Master’s in History at Monica.Pelayo@umb.edu.

For information about the program’s commitment to civic engagement, contact Professor Jane Becker at Jane.Becker@umb.edu.

Our department webpage provides additional answers to common questions pertaining to admission and program requirements. To learn more about tuition and fees, see the Bursar’s Office. For information on financial aid available for graduate students, visit the UMass Boston Financial Aid Office. General information on graduate study at UMass Boston is available on the Graduate Studies website.

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