Thanks to investment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Park Foundation partnered with the National Park Service to support humanities scholars whose research helps NPS share a great diversity of American stories. Their scholarship is used by National Park Service staff at parks and in preservation programs to develop interpretive educational programs for park visitors and local communities.
Over the past decade, histories of work and working people have gained increasing prominence at National Park Service sites across the country. More than ever before, the agency is exploring the centrality of labor to American life. This includes telling the story of the labor movement and union organizing at newer parks such as Pullman National Monument in Chicago and the César E. Chávez National Monument in California. It also means giving greater attention to labor at battlefields and other sites associated with the Revolutionary War and Civil War. Newer interpretation at these places examines slavery in both a national and local context, with park staff and partners connecting military and political history to the lived experiences of free and enslaved African Americans. Labor history is also present at industrial sites, parks focused on transportation, historic homes where the lives of domestic workers are receiving more attention, and at large parks in the West, where the labor of NPS employees themselves is a focus of historical research. In short, every park unit has a labor history to tell. The Mellon Humanities Fellowship in the History of Labor and Productivity supports programming in labor history at all these places through research, training, and public events.
Dr. Eleanor Mahoney earned her Ph.D. in History from the University of Washington. Her research combines an interest in public lands with the economic and political history of post-World War II America. Her dissertation examined the changing politics of National Park creation between 1960 and 1990, focusing on urban and suburban areas. Dr. Mahoney has more than 15 years of experience working in the nonprofit and public sectors. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she worked for a National Park Service friends’ group in the Chesapeake Bay region and as the Assistant National Coordinator for Heritage Areas. She is the Associate Editor of Living Landscape Observer, a website and newsletter focused on landscape-scale conservation and has served as a consultant for digital history projects focused on labor and environmental history.