Power of Culture Blog
Reflections of a state folklorist
Dean of the UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts and Notable Historian Sworn in Today
On Tuesday, November 1, Governor Charlie Baker appointed Dr. Barbara Krauthamer, a resident of Amherst, to serve on the governing body of the Mass Cultural Council; today she was officially sworn into this new role and can join her colleagues on the Council.
“I am delighted to welcome Barbara to the Council,” said Nina Fialkow, Mass Cultural Council Chair. “Her expertise in history and the humanities and her dedication to public service will guide her efforts well as we strive to develop policy and programs that invest and support a vibrant cultural sector in Massachusetts.”
The Mass Cultural Council is an independent state agency charged with fostering the Commonwealth’s vibrant cultural sector through a wide portfolio of grants and services, thereby elevating a rich cultural life for all residents and visitors to Massachusetts. The Agency is governed by a 19-member Board of private citizens, collectively referred to as “the Council.”
As directed by state law, Council members are appointed by the Governor and have demonstrated scholarship or creativity in, or distinguished service to, the arts, humanities, interpretative sciences, or local arts. Council members serve staggered, three-year terms and reside in every region of the Commonwealth.
“Mass Cultural Council is intentionally reviewing our suite of offerings – every grant program, policies, and services, to ensure that we are achieving progress on the goals outlined in our Racial Equity Plan,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “We believe the Commonwealth’s cultural sector will benefit and thrive from equitable public investments and anti-racist decision-making. I am thrilled to have Barbara’s expertise in these matters on the Council and know she will be a strong voice for those who have been historically underserved.”
“I’m honored and excited to serve on the Mass Cultural Council. Sustaining a vibrant and diverse cultural sector is critical to the vitality of local communities, the Commonwealth, and our democracy. I look forward to contributing to the Council’s work of advancing excellence, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities and sciences,” said Dr. Barbara Krauthamer.
Professor Barbara Krauthamer is an eminent historian of slavery and emancipation in the 19th century American South, a devoted mentor, and an innovative leader. A member of the Department of History faculty since 2008, Barbara was named Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts at UMass Amherst in 2020. In this role, she has supported the expansion of programs to support faculty research, increase funding and resources for underrepresented students, and promote curricular innovation.
She previously served as Dean of the Graduate School from 2017 to 2020 and Associate Dean of the Graduate School from 2015 to 2017. In those roles, she created multiple fellowship and mentoring programs designed to support the recruitment and retention of traditionally underrepresented graduate students.
As a faculty member, Professor Krauthamer has worked closely with master’s and doctoral students in History as well as Afro-American Studies; Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, and other departments across campus. She served for a number of years on the History Department’s graduate studies committee and held the position of graduate program director for two years. During her time in that role, she worked to promote diversity in the department and implemented changes to the admissions and funding process that expanded resources for doctoral students.
Barbara is widely recognized as a leading historian of African American slavery and emancipation in the United States. Her published work includes Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South. She is the co-author of Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery, which received a number of honors, most notably the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Non-fiction. Most recently, she co-edited the textbook Major Problems in African American History, one of the leading textbooks in the field. She has authored numerous articles, curated exhibits, and written pieces for general audiences. She appears in the award-winning documentary film Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People. Her research and books have been profiled in many media outlets, including the New York Times, CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, Pacifica Radio, and CNN as well as in media outlets in the U.K., France, and Italy.
Barbara also has a long record of academic service on and off campus. In 2017, she received the Lorraine A. Williams Leadership Award from the Association of Black Women Historians in recognition of both her scholarship and her work to create opportunities for Black women in higher education. She served as president of the Southern Association of Women Historians and has held leadership positions in professional organizations, including the Association of Black Women Historians, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and the Southern Historical Association. She currently serves on the Massachusetts Women’s Network of the American Council on Education.
Under the leadership and direction of Executive Director Michael J. Bobbitt, Mass Cultural Council developed and adopted the Agency’s first Racial Equity Plan. Diversifying the membership of the Council, so that decision makers represent all who live, work, and participate in the state’s cultural sector is an important goal of this work.
Bio and photo credit: University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Humanities & Fine Arts Department of History website.