Public History Projects

Current Projects

States of Incarceration (2016-18)

  • States of Incarceration (2016-18): Working with Marty Blatt and the Humanities Action Lab, students investigated the history of incarceration in Massachusetts, asking whether prisons were for punishment or rehabilitation. Students will use this research to curate major portions of an exhibition on mass incarceration that will be shown in spring 2018, and will help plan and host a related conference on the past, present and future of incarceration in the state. Jessica Muttit, a recent graduate of the program, is serving as the project manager.
  • Longfellow House / George Washington Headquarters National Historic Site (2017)

  • Longfellow House / George Washington Headquarters National Historic Site (2017): In spring 2017, students in Victoria Cain’s “Historic Preservation” course explored the property’s role in the history of slavery, social reform, and historic preservation. Over the summer, public history students Caroline Klibanoff and Jessica Nelsen built on this work to update the site’s documentation for the National Register of Historic Places. Klibanoff and Nelsen are collaborating with Cain, local landscape architects, and the National Park Service to extend the site’s period of significance into the twentieth century and help site staff develop a basis for future interpretation.
  • Mt. Auburn Cemetery Digitization Days (2017)

  • Mt. Auburn Cemetery Digitization Days (2017): Kara Zelasko and Brittany Costello are working with Mt. Auburn Cemetery and the Northeast Document Conservation Center to recover family and social histories of communities in Watertown and Cambridge, the towns the cemetery serves. With funding from the NEH’s Common Heritage program, these students will collect, digitize, catalogue and eventually create physical and digital exhibits based on the artifacts and stories they’ll gather during two “digitization days” to be held at the cities’ libraries this fall.
  • Former Projects

    Huntington Avenue Y Exhibit (2014)

  • Huntington Avenue Y Exhibit (2014): A collaborative effort of Northeastern’s University Archives and Special Collections and Program in Public History, this project began with Victoria Cain’s “Historical Exhibits & Museums” Spring 2014 course. Sixteen students combed through archival records and conducted oral histories to uncover the story of the YMCA of Greater Boston and its relationship to Northeastern. By the end of the semester, the class had produced a five-part exhibit. Cain and public history student Sarah Hudson curated a final version of the exhibit over the summer, condensing the exhibit labels, polishing the prose, and finalizing the design of the exhibit.
  • Confronting Guantánamo (2013 - 15)

  • Confronting Guantánamo (2013-5): Victoria Cain and her public history students contributed research, interviews, images, and reflections to the Humanities Action Lab’s Guantánamo Public Memory Project, which chronicled the century-long history of the American naval base in Guantánamo Bay. In spring 2015, students brought the resulting exhibit to Northeastern and developed a six-week slate of programming to accompany its display, including events for Boston’s Haitian-American community, 826 Boston, and public health professionals.