What Is the Tsongas Industrial History Center?

  • The Tsongas Industrial History Center is a hands-on center where students learn about the American Industrial Revolution through activities and tours of the sites where history—and science—happened. Students "do history" by weaving, working on an assembly line, becoming history detectives, or voting in a town meeting. Students can also "do science" as they use the engineering design process, manipulate simple machines, create canal systems and test water wheels, measure water quality, or discover river cleanup techniques.
  • Tsongas Industrial History Center is a professional development provider, offering teachers exciting workshops and primary-source-based teaching activities. Teachers can earn professional development points and even graduate credit for their activities at the Center.
  • The Tsongas Industrial History Center is an education partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell School of Education and National Park Service at Lowell National Historical Park, which each provide a portion of the funding and staff to operate the Center.
Mass Cultural Council logo

The Tsongas Industrial History Center is grateful to receive operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Our Vision and Mission Statement

The Tsongas Industrial History Center is THE place for teaching and learning about Lowell's industrial past, present, and future as inspiration for creating a better world.

The mission of the Tsongas Industrial History Center is to use experiential learning and Lowell's resources to help learners explore the history and science of industrialization and its impacts, with the goal of sparking curiosity, critical thinking, inspiration and action.

What We Value

  • Inclusion, Accessibility, & Equity: We affirm and embrace differences among all learners and seek to remove barriers to inclusion.
  • Authenticity/Power of Place: We use Lowell’s stories, historic landscapes, buildings, and objects to explore the impacts of industrialization on diverse individuals, society, and the world.
  • Collaboration: We collaborate with learners, educators, Lowell National Historical Park and UMass Lowell colleagues, and community partners in sharing authority, developing understandings, and welcoming varied perspectives. 
  • Experiential Learning: We promote peer engagement and immerse learners in history, science, and engineering, through engaging activities that foster critical thinking and action.
  • Relevance: We provide opportunities for a diverse audience to find themselves in and map connections between Lowell’s history and their own lives. 
  • Environmental & Social Justice: We aim to inspire activism toward social justice and environmental sustainability by raising awareness of the legacies of industrialization.

Who Was Paul Tsongas?

The Paul E. Tsongas Industrial History Center is named for former U.S. Senator Tsongas, not only because he filed the legislation to create the Lowell National Historical Park, but also because he urged the development of University-Park Service educational partnerships to use Lowell as a classroom. Senator Tsongas believed that stronger schools were an essential ingredient in the revitalization of economic and community life in Lowell and in the region and that strong schools resulted from strong community partnerships.

Inspired by Tsongas's vision of Lowell as a historical classroom not only for Lowell students but for all students, Superintendent of Lowell National Historical Park Chrysandra Walter and UMass Lowell Chancellor William Hogan assembled a team and sought initial funding to create a hands-on education center that opened in the fall of 1991. The Center was later named to honor the Senator's many contributions to Lowell as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1975-1979), United States Senator (1979-1985), UMass Lowell trustee, Lowell City Counselor, and County Commissioner.

Learn More by Watching Our Videos

Learn more about the Tsongas Industrial History Center by watching our videos on our YouTube page. UMass Lowell students helped us create a video for our 25th anniversary in 2016. It gives a good overview of our history, our impact, and how we are looking forward to the next 25 years.


The Tsongas Industrial History Center is an education partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell School of Education and the National Park Service at Lowell National Historical Park.

  • UMass Lowell
  • National Park Service