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Program Details

Courses are centered on an investigatory question that allows students, with guidance from their professor, to discover the answers for themselves. The emphasis is on experiential learning, so you’ll get to touch objects from New England’s history, to see the world through the eyes of these early Americans and Native Americans, and to feel what it was like to wear a piece of 19th-century clothing or to practice a social dance. Your professors will also help you understand how the material you are studying connects with much bigger questions and issues, the kind they grapple with in their own research.

Learn to see an object with new eyes and ask questions that reveal fascinating details about the people who touched them.

Teaware from the late 1700s can tell us a lot about the status, social behavior and politics of the person who owned it and offers insights into the tipping point for the Revolutionary War.

Find out how to “read” a painting and unlock the meaning behind what is portrayed and what is left out.

Examine Edwin Romanzo Elmer’s eerie and evocative Mourning Picture, from 1890, at the Smith College Museum of Art. Discover how this renowned family portrait by a local artist combined the imaginary with the real. A field trip to Elmer’s hometown will aid in your inquiry.

Learn how to analyze personal artifacts as part of the process of creating an identity.

In the late 1800s, the first generation of Smith girls documented their lives in their diaries, photo albums and overstuffed scrapbooks. Discover how they expressed their creativity, tried on positions of power, and invented new ways of being women, all while constructing a sense of themselves as “college girls.”

Your research might include field trips to the some of these local resources of New England history:

Smith College Archives

Smith College Museum of Art

Historic Northampton

Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst

Sojourner Truth Memorial, Florence

Porter-Phelps Huntington Museum, Hadley

Historic Deerfield

Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Museum, Deerfield

Deerfield Burying Ground

Old Sturbridge Village

Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield

Melville's Arrowhead, Lenox/Pittsfield

Nichols House Museum, Boston

Lowell Mill Museum

Transfer-printed teapot, c. 1825, Courtesy Emily Dickinson Museum. Edwin Romanzo Elmer, Mourning Picture, 1890, Smith College Museum of Art.