History major Bradley Sherwood goes to camp every summer – and gets paid to do it.
Sherwood has been working for the Tsongas Industrial History Center (TIHC), the educational partnership between the university’s College of Education and the Lowell National Historical Park, since his first year of college. He is mostly paid as a work-study student, although for his first summer, he was awarded a Student Conservation Association Scholarship.
Sherwood helps the education rangers for the park and museum teachers for the TIHC with school groups, teacher groups, vacation drop-in activities and summer camps. His favorite is summer camp, because he gets to know a small group of children for a whole week, and many of them come back year after year.
“I love camp,” he says. “I also get to help in the curatorial department and other areas. I get good exposure to a wide variety of work.”
His work has also helped him understand how his love of history could turn into a fulfilling job. He always enjoyed history – especially ancient Greek history – but he had considered other majors. Now, he hopes to keep working with the park or the TIHC after he graduates.
“I’m good at history, and I find it really interesting,” he says. “I also like teaching and explaining history. It’s one thing to know something; it’s another to know how to explain it to kids or even adults in terms they can understand.”
Working at the center has helped in some of Sherwood’s classes as well, especially the History of Lowell and Lawrence research seminar taught by University Prof. Robert Forrant. Forrant suggested that Sherwood research the history of Lowell during World War I and how city residents supported the war effort, because almost nothing had been written on the topic.
Sherwood scoured old newspapers for days. Then, while at work and scanning images for the park’s Proprietors of Locks and Canals collection, he found one photograph of a wartime vegetable garden above the Guard Locks and another of an Armistice Day celebration. He used them in his paper and a presentation at the park.
“My paper was almost all primary source-based, original research. I looked at city expenditures, like the budget for the ‘German war’ and soldiers’ benefits,” he says. “It was really fun.”
Sherwood’s final research paper for that class was 30 pages long – a good start on a master’s thesis, which he may pursue through UMass Lowell’s graduate program in history, because there are still more sources to explore.
The park and the university’s Center for Lowell History are bountiful resources for history lovers. In fact, Lowell’s rich history and the wide range of cultural events and institutions were a big part of the reason Sherwood came to UMass Lowell in the first place.
“The city appealed to me,” he says. “There’s a lot to do here.”