🔗NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow: Examining the Intersections of Indigenous Collections, Context, and Contemporary Art
American Conservation Experience
The Indigenous History and Collections Fellow will advance scholarship, interpretation, and community engagement around Indigenous history and culture reflected in the museum collections of Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site. The Mellon Fellow’s work will intersect with an NPS-funded project to pilot a new Indigenous Artists Program. The Fellow’s research will build a strong scholarly foundation for the planning and pilot phases of the Artists Program, and for the site’s broader engagement with Indigenous history. The Fellow will build on this scholarship to advance the public interpretation of Indigenous history at LONG through digital media, interpretive programming, and artist collaboration.
The Mellon Fellow will be supported by a National Park Service mentoring team from LONG, TCA, NARP, and NMSC, as well as an external partner mentor with scholarly expertise. Each NPS Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow will complete work in three areas. Fellows will (1) perform project-based research; (2) develop programming to share research results; and (3) produce and substantially contribute to interpretive and educational products.
1) Research: The Mellon Fellow will synthesize existing documentation of objects of Indigenous origin in the LONG museum collection and conduct original research into the historical and cultural context associated with them, and the site more broadly. Based on this research, the Fellow will author a report and an accompanying Research Guide to Indigenous History in the Longfellow Archives (which will present the material aimed at a more scholarly or specialist audience).
Indigenous objects in the collection are largely, but not exclusively, Massachusett, Ojibwe, and Dakota in origin. These collections span the pre-colonial period to the 19th century development of the United States. In connection with the Artists Program, the Mellon Fellow’s research and interpretive work will address the overarching question: “How can the history and collections associated with LONG help us move past dominant narratives toward a more complex, inclusive, and honest understanding of Indigenous history?”
Several key research areas include:
- Massachusett history and archeological collections
- Interactions between Indigenous leaders and George Washington during his nine months headquartered in this house
- Henry Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha and associated collections
- Alice Longfellow’s engagement with Indigenous youth through her involvement with the Indian School at Hampton Institute and the Massachusetts Indian Association.
In year two, the Fellow will consult with their mentorship team, as well as other subject matter experts as needed, to propose a project for their second year.
2) Programming: The Mellon Fellow will share their research with a broad internal and external audience through innovative programming. Key programming opportunities include:
- Participation in Indigenous Artists Fellowship Program planning workshops alongside several community partners to build professional connections and to offer scholarly perspective.
- Staff briefings on research findings.
- Collaboration with two Artist Fellows and NPS staff to host at least two creative, interdisciplinary public programs.
- Additional co-programming with local, regional, national, and/or tribal partners.
The Fellow will be expected to develop and sustain connections with program-provided mentors and host staff, associated NPS staff, members of their Fellowship cohort, and other Fellows across the tenure of the program. In addition to being provided mentorship and support themselves, the Fellow will have the opportunity to mentor others and to enrich staff knowledge by organizing events such as virtual speaker series and presentations. Twice a year, the Fellow will participate with their cohort and other Fellows in a virtual conference for NPS staff and partners to provide updates about their research. The Fellow will be responsible for tracking and reporting accomplishments and for supplying copies of interpretive, educational, and research products to their host and to the National Coordinator.
3) Interpretive and Educational Products: The Mellon Fellow will lead the development of an Indigenous History landing page on NPS.gov/long. As a cornerstone of the page, the Mellon Fellow will develop an online feature of key objects in the site’s collection associated with Indigenous people, which will present the Fellow’s research for a public audience. This may complement a physical exhibit developed in conjunction with LONG curatorial staff.
LONG staff will provide mentorship in developing engaging, audience-centered, accessible products. Staff are also prepared to support the Mellon Fellow in developing at least one additional interpretive product; this could include developing a “counternarratives tour” of the Longfellow House, pop-up display, or additional digital content.
4) Career-Focused Work: In consultation with their mentors, the Fellow will carry out a career-centered project. About 20 percent of the Fellowship will be dedicated to this scholarly work that advances the Fellow’s career path. The Fellow will be supported by a multidisciplinary team that draws on local, regional, and partner expertise. In addition to NPS staff, the Fellow will also have an external mentor whose work focuses on Indigenous art, history, and culture in a museum context. In addition to their research report, the Fellow will draft at least one public facing article with the potential for scholarly review and publication.
Essential Responsibilities and Tasks:
- Synthesize existing documentation of objects of Indigenous origin in the LONG museum and archival collection and prepare a brief written survey of these collections.
- Complete an original research report on the history and context associated with the site’s Indigenous collections, and an accompanying Research Guide to Indigenous History in the Longfellow Archives. Provide briefing to NPS staff, key partners.
- Serve as a periodic mentor to interns supporting the Indigenous Artists Program, helping them to develop fundamental research skills and deepening their knowledge of Indigenous history and collections.
- Collaborate with Indigenous Artist Program and NPS staff to develop and promote creative public programs showcasing artistic and scholarly work.
- Develop Indigenous History content for NPS.gov, including introductory material, an online feature of key objects, and additional article content based on research report.
- Develop one additional interpretive product (a tour, pop-up display, exhibit plan, public program, or additional digital content) emphasizing connections between Indigenous History and the site’s founding era history, in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.