The Summer 2023 Application deadline was February 6, 2023
Historic Deerfield, Inc. invites college juniors and seniors to apply for its nine-week, tuition-free Summer Fellowship Program in History and Material Culture. Located in the scenic Connecticut River Valley of Western Massachusetts, Historic Deerfield is the perfect place to explore New England and regional history, material culture and museum studies.
Live in the historic village
Explore history and material culture studies in hands-on classroom seminars, walking tours and room studies with Historic Deerfield staff and visiting lecturers
Learn to guide and interpret in Historic Deerfield’s furnished museum houses
Conduct original research on New England history and material culture using museum and library collections
Go on behind-the-scenes visits to museums and historic sites including a week-long road trip at the conclusion of the program
Pay no tuition or program fees; students with summer work requirements are encouraged to apply for financial assistance.
Historic Deerfield accepts 7 students each year to join us in Deerfield as summer fellows. The program welcomes applications from college juniors (class of 2024) and seniors who expect to graduate in 2023.
The Summer Fellowship Program is nine weeks long. The 2023 program ran from June 5 – August 7, 2023. Dates for 2024 will be announced here soon.
Fellows participate in classroom seminars, walking tours and study-sessions in museum houses led by Historic Deerfield’s staff and visiting lecturers. 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.
Click here for more information about SFP faculty| Click here for past Research Topics and Object Studies| Click here for Research Paper Abstracts
All fellows are required to lead tours and interact with visitors, including guiding in one 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.
We encourage candidates from all backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and identities to apply. Historic Deerfield’s mission is to open doors to new perspectives that inspire people to seek a deeper understanding of themselves, their communities, and the world.
Is There an Application fee?
No, it is free to apply to the Summer Fellowship Program.
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 2, Sunday, July 3, and Monday, July 4. In general, weekend guiding assignments and special programs over the course of the program will require Fellows’ presence in Deerfield.
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.
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.) 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 July 31, 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?
We take day trips to other museums and historic sites in June and July.
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, eight-day field excursion to museums and historic sites in the Northeast. The 2022 trip will leave Deerfield on Sunday, July 31 and return to Deerfield on Sunday, August 7.
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.
HOW LONG HAS THE SUMMER FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM BEEN IN EXISTENCE?
The Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship Program celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016
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.
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 leading tours, and working on individual research projects. After the first few weeks, some weeks include a day 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 the 2021 program.
What about meals?
The program stocks the Creelman kitchen with self-serve breakfast foods. The program provides lunch and dinner, both of which are eaten communally at Creelman, 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 at the Creelman House.
Should students plan on bringing a computer?
Yes, fellows should bring a personal computer/laptop. Fellows have access to a printer at Creelman 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 Creelman House, and inside Historic Deerfield’s Flynt Center of Early New England Life. The Deerfield Inn also has WiFi.
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.
I am interested, but wish I could talk to someone who has done the program before…
You can! The administrators of the Summer Fellowship Program can put prospective students in touch with former fellows who are glad to share their thoughts on the program from a student’s perspective.
Please write to SFP@historic-deerfield.org.
“Deerfield follows us everywhere! The fellowship truly prepared me for my new journey into graduate school…I am so happy, honored, and pleased that I was a fellow!
–John Botello ’13, Creative Manager at the Executive Residence, The White House