Frequently Asked Questions

How long has the Summer Fellowship Program been in existence?

The Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016.


Who is eligible to apply to be a Summer Fellow?

Historic Deerfield welcomes applications from college juniors (class of 2020), and seniors who expect to graduate in 2019.


How many students are in Historic Deerfield's Summer Fellowship Program?

The program accepts 6-8 students each year. 


How long is the program?

The Summer Fellowship Program is nine weeks long. The 2019 program will begin on Monday, June 10, 2019. The last day of the program is Monday, August 12, 2019.


Is there an application fee?

There is a $15 application fee, payable online or by check. For more information, see the application form.


Do Fellows have to pay tuition or other program fees?

Each Summer Fellow receives a full fellowship that covers all expenses associated with the program, including tuition, room and board, and field trips.  Historic Deerfield funds the cost of the Summer Fellowship Program with help from a generous gift from the Shumway Foundation and from individual donors.


I am required to work as part of my financial aid at my college/university. Is there financial assistance available to offset lost summer income?

Applicants interested in financial aid should submit the financial aid authorization form as part of their application. Financial aid awards are need blind and application for assistance has no impact on your program application. In addition, upon admission to the Summer Fellowship Program, students may request assistance with expenses for travel to and from Deerfield.


Do the Summer Fellows have any days off during the program?

Summer Fellows take a three-day break during the program. This year's break will be on Saturday, July 6, Sunday, July 7, and Monday, July 8. In general, other weekends over the course of the program will require Fellows’ presence in Deerfield. On the weekend of June 22-23, fellows assist with and are admitted for free to the annual Dublin Seminar for New England Folk Life at Deerfield. The topic for the 2019 Dublin Seminar is, "Entertainments in Taverns and Long Rooms in New England, 1700-1900."


I have a conflict with some of the days the program is in session. Would it be OK to miss some of the program?

Due to the intensive nature of the Summer Fellowship Program and the limited number of students we can accept, all fellows are expected to participate in the entire program.


Where is Deerfield?

Deerfield, Massachusetts, is located one hour north of Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, CT. The
scenic historic village of Deerfield is home to Historic Deerfield, Inc. and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association; the region’s many historic museums and houses, educational institutions, cultural centers, and state parks make it a year-round tourist destination.


seminars and classes

What sorts of things do Summer Fellows study?
Fellows participate in classroom seminars, walking tours and study-sessions in museum houses led by Historic Deerfield's staff and visiting lecturers (Click here for more information about SFP faculty.) Topics include: early New England architecture; early American daily life as revealed in furniture, ceramics and textiles and other decorative arts as well as primary documents such as probate inventories and account books; the art and craft of gravestone carving; Native Americans and African Americans in the Connecticut River Valley; the archaeological heritage of Deerfield; the Colonial Revival in New England; the advantages and challenges of teaching early American history through objects; and the complex interrelationship between heritage and history.


Guiding and Museum Interpretation

Do fellows have opportunities to work in museum houses and interact with the public?
All fellows are required to lead tours and interact with visitors in two of  Historic Deerfield’s museum houses. Fellows train with the Director of Museum Education and Interpretation, museum guides and other staff as they prepare for this experience.

What’s a typical day like for an Historic Deerfield Summer Fellow? Each week is generally a mix of activities that includes attending hands-on seminars and workshops (see above, Seminars and Classes), training and guiding in the historic houses, and working on individual research projects. After the first two weeks or so, most weeks include a day or overnight excursion to other museums. No one day is exactly like another, but if you are interested in learning more, click here for sample weeks from 2017 program.



What about that research paper? Are there other writing assignments?
As part of building practical research and writing skills, fellows write two papers. At the beginning of the program, fellows are assigned a short object-based research and writing project.(Click here for examples of object studies and accompanying presentations.) Over the course of the program, fellows conduct research on a topic of their choice relating to the history and material culture of the Connecticut River Valley and craft a research paper of 25+ pages based on primary textual sources and artifacts in the collections of Historic Deerfield and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association. At the program’s closing exercises on August 2, fellows summarize their research in a 5-8 minute oral presentation, followed by a short question and answer period in a program open to staff and guests. Both assignments introduce fellows to material culture studies and engage them in primary research on an aspect of regional history from the 17th to 20th centuries.  Many Summer Fellowship papers have become the basis for senior theses and essays for publication.

Where do Summer Fellows do their research?
Students conduct the bulk of their research in the Memorial Libraries here at Historic Deerfield; fellows also receive borrowing privileges at the UMass Library, located in Amherst (about 20 minutes from Deerfield.) Object-based research projects take place at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life, Historic Deerfield's state-of-the-art facility containing climate-controlled exhibition galleries, visible storage area, and collection storage.

What sorts of research projects have previous Fellows done?
Please see the Recent Research Topics page for a listing of research paper topics for 2017. For a complete listing of paper topics from 2005-2017, please visit this page.


Field excursions

How do field trips work?
We take several day trips to other museums and historic sites in June and July. A trip to Newport, Rhode Island, will involve an overnight stay in Newport.

Isn’t there a big trip at the end of the program?
A completed final paper is the ticket onto the van that transports fellows on an exciting, nine-day field trip to Washington D.C., Colonial Williamsburg, and Winterthur Museum, with other stops along the way.  The 2019 trip will leave Deerfield on Saturday, August 3 and return to Deerfield on Sunday, August 11.

living arrangements

Where do the fellows live while they are in Deerfield?
Summer Fellows are housed on Deerfield’s Old Main Street that runs through the historic village, aka “The Street.” Fellows live in one of two apartments attached to historic museum houses—the Allen House and the Wright House.  Each apartment has a full kitchen, two shared bathrooms and air-conditioned dorm-style bedrooms (singles) furnished with bed, desk, chair, lamp, shelving and closet space. WiFi internet access is available in both houses.

Do Summer Fellows share a room?
Each fellow has his/her own room.

What about meals?
The program stocks both kitchens with self-serve breakfast foods. The program provides lunch and dinner, both of which are eaten communally in the kitchen of the rear annex to Historic Deerfield’s Allen House, except in the case of special dinners and other programs where meals are included, for example, during the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife which takes place in June at Historic Deerfield.

What about students with food allergies?
Students with special food preferences or allergies are asked to alert the Director. This information is shared with the staff of the Deerfield Inn and the Assistant Tutor.

What about laundry?
A washer and dryer are available to fellows in the Wright House apartment.

Computers and Internet Access

Should students plan on bringing a computer?
It is a very good idea to bring a personal computer/laptop. Fellows have access to a printer at the Wright House apartment, the Memorial Libraries and at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. We suggest bringing a flash drive(s) in the event a PC does not interface successfully with different printers.

What about Internet access?
WiFi is available at the Historic Deerfield/PVMA Memorial Libraries, the apartments of the Wright House and the Allen House, and inside Historic Deerfield’s Flynt Center of Early New England Life. The Deerfield Inn also has WiFi.


Getting out and about

Do Summer Fellows need to bring a car?
It is perfectly fine for fellows to bring a car. Although not necessary, many students find it convenient, and there is ample parking available. Some students like to bring a bicycle. Again, this comes under the heading of handy to have but by no means essential. The mile-long village Street on which Historic Deerfield’s buildings are located is a quintessential walking environment.

Are there places nearby to do some shopping?
In a word, yes. Greenfield, bordering Deerfield to the north, has a small downtown about five minutes away by car that includes a locally-owned department store, a food co-op with bakery, two grocery superstores and several national chain drugstores.  Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, a ten-minute drive from the museum, is the closest hospital. Restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, book stores, are available not only in Greenfield, but also in the towns of Amherst (home to Amherst College, Hampshire College and UMass), Hadley (site of several mall complexes) and Northampton (home to Smith College).  These towns are a 20-minute drive south on nearby I-91 and route 116.

I am interested, but wish I could talk to someone who has done the program before…
You can! The Director of the Summer Fellowship Program is happy to put prospective students in touch with former fellows who are glad to share their thoughts on the program from a student’s perspective.  Just call or email the Director using the contact information below and she will connect you with program alumni.

I have a question/s that I couldn’t find the answer to in these FAQs—who should I contact? 
Please call or e-mail the Director of the Summer Fellowship Program with any questions:

Barbara Mathews

(413) 775-7207    bmathews@historic-deerfield.org