writer • speaker • EDUCATOR

There are many facets to being a public historian. In my case, I have published and spoken on original research, worked in museums, taught classes, and produced radio programming.

Tom Goldscheider


I have published two articles in the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.

“Shays’ Rebellion: Reclaiming the Revolution” (Winter 2015) offers a new approach to questions that have dogged historians: Who were the rebels? Why did they rebel? What form did the rebellion take? Was this the closing chapter of our Revolution?

“At Sword’s Point: The United Electrical Workers Union and the Greenfield Tap and Die Company” (Winter 2019) is a labor history of Franklin County with a focus on organized labor during the McCarthy period. This untold story, pieced together using archival research, reveals critical choices made in the 1940s-50s that live with us today.


I co-produced a radio documentary based on my own research called “At Sword’s Point” that aired on our local NPR station and is now available as a podcast.


I present two separate talks, with images, on each of these research projects. I have presented at conferences, libraries, historical societies and museums. I also give a talk on the life and work of David Ruggles using images from our exhibits at the Ruggles Center.


I am on the board of the David Ruggles Center for History and Education. We interpret the history of the radical abolitionists who formed a utopian community in Northampton in the 1840s. I host visiting school groups and lead walking tours of the village of Florence where individual stories come to life. In the museum, I curated the permanent exhibit on our namesake. I help organize and take part in ongoing conferences, panel discussions and events sponsored by the Center.


My principal role at the David Ruggles Center is to lead school groups visiting the museum. Groups range in age from third graders to elder learners. I have drawn on a wealth of primary source materials to create an Interactive Curriculum designed to engage students in active, hands-on learning. I have taught in a variety of other settings. I am certified to teach social studies in Massachusetts in grades 8-12.

Children on a walking tour pose around Sojourner Truth statue near Ruggles Center in Florence, Massachusetts


I was awarded three competitive grants by Mass Humanities. A Scholar-in Residence Grant with the Museum of Our Industrial Heritage helped fund my research into Greenfield labor history published as “At Sword’s Point”. A Project Grant supported the creation of an Interactive Curriculum for visiting school groups at the David Ruggles Center. And an Expand Massachusetts Stories grant helped produce the radio special “At Sword’s Point”.

1845 Florence, Massachusetts Map


At the time in life most scholars are going to college, I went to work in the trades. I was a timber framer on Cape Cod, restoring early 19th century windmills, before turning to my work with horses as a farrier. Following a brief stint as a newspaper reporter, I enrolled in the University Without Walls program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in 2009, I went on to earn a Master of Arts in History at UMass with a concentration in U.S. History in 2012.

Group of people on the porch at the Ruggles center


There is a thread that connects my three primary areas of interest in U.S. history: the American Revolution and its aftermath; the movement to abolish slavery; and labor history. In all three cases I look at issues of national significance through the lens of local, western Massachusetts history. I use the “power of place”, personal biographies and primary sources not found online to make complex subjects tangible to more readers and listeners.

My definition of a public historian is someone who brings original, sourced history to a wider audience; one who makes history relevant and accessible without compromising standards of best historical practice.

I am drawn to this work by a passion for social justice. But I insist that my audience be allowed to form its own conclusions based on what I am presenting. The stories speak for themselves and I wish to hear what others take from them.


Tom Goldscheider CV


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