Connecting Students to the Past
When it comes to our collective understanding of the Northeast Ohio region, some Kent State University faculty in the Department of History feel that professional historians have too often ignored or marginalized Ohio and the Great Lakes region as a whole.
To address that, Western Reserve Historical Society (WRHS) and Kent State have announced a cooperation agreement enabling unique access and real-world experiences for students and faculty in the Department of History.
“The partnership between WRHS and the Department of History has numerous benefits, but one of the most important is bolstering our collective understanding of the history of the region,” said Kevin Adams, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of Kent State’s Department of History. “By pooling resources and expertise, our institutions look forward to uncovering new facets of our past for the benefit of scholars and the public alike.”
The agreement, in the form of a memorandum of understanding signed Feb. 17 at the Library at the WRHS Cleveland History Center, formalizes the mutual interaction and strengthens the existing relationship between WRHS staff members and Kent State faculty.
Kent State students will gain access to archival research materials for research projects, internships and jobs as well as research assistantships for graduate level students. One of the first student projects will be an oral history project focused on African American history in our region.
“This partnership provides a direct pathway by which Kent State history students at all levels can acquire essential knowledge and skills for careers in public history,” Adams said. “The experiences our students will have and the professional connections they will develop will prove invaluable as they transition into their lives after graduation.”
“The relationship between WRHS and Kent State has been long and fruitful, resulting in publications, exhibits and student internship projects, thanks to Kent State’s commitment to excellent scholarship and public history,” said Kelly Falcone-Hall, president and CEO of WRHS. “This agreement formalizes and builds upon a long tradition of working together for the benefit of students and our community.”
For Kent State faculty and WRHS staff, this agreement will bring unique teaching opportunities and collaborative research, including a focus on our industrial past and the history of the Rust Belt.
“Not only will the content expertise possessed by Kent State’s faculty enhance WRHS exhibits and events, but this partnership plays an important role in the history department’s development of a Center for Rust Belt Studies,” Adams said.
Founded in 1867, WRHS is a regional history organization with seven properties across Northeast Ohio. Included in its collections are 39 historic structures – seven of which are on the National Register of Historic Places – as well as more than 100,000 objects in its museum collections, an expansive library of published and primary source materials, an auto-aviation collection, a costume and textile collection, and more. WRHS presents exhibitions, programs and experiences that tell the dynamic stories of the people of Northeast Ohio through art, documents and artifacts from a variety of collections. Through its Heritage Management Program, WRHS is a resource for corporations and organizations. WRHS is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is a member of the America 250-Ohio Commission commemorating the semiquincentennial of the United States in 2026.
To learn more about WRHS, visit www.wrhs.org.
To learn more about Kent State’s Department of History, visit www.kent.edu/history.
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Pictured on the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel at Western Reserve Historical Society are (from left to right) Kevin Adams, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of Kent State University’s Department of History; Mandy Munro-Stasiuk, Ph.D., dean of Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Kelly Falcone-Hall, president and CEO of Western Reserve Historical Society.