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UMass Professor Barbara Krauthamer receives award from Association of Black Women Historians

(Collegian file photo)

Dean of the University of Massachusetts Graduate School Barbara Krauthamer received the Lorraine A. Williams Leadership Award from the Association of Black Women Historians on Sept. 30.

According to the University of Massachusetts’ press release, the award was given to her at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The award is presented to an African American female historian who not only demonstrates scholarly achievement, but also a commitment to the mentorship of other black female scholars.

Krauthamer graduated from Dartmouth College in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in government. Post graduation, she worked for two and a half years at public defense organizations in Washington D.C. and Manhattan.

She realized her academic passion at Washington University in St. Louis, where she obtained a Master’s Degree in 19th Century U.S. History.

“One of my favorite professors left D.C. to go to Washington University in St. Louis and I wanted to study with her and I realized I was mostly interested in African American Women’s History,” Krauthamer said.

From there she went on to obtain a PhD in 19th century African-American history from Princeton University.

“I like to understand the complexity of Black people’s capacity for survival and capacity to engage in acts of creativity and resistance and intelligence engagement despite facing unthinkable brutality” Krauthamer said.

With a PhD under her belt in 2000, Krauthamer then moved back to New York City to teach African American history at New York University.

While teaching at NYU, she took 20 to 25 sophomores on an annual eight-day-long study aboard trip to Accra, Ghana for eight days. During that time, they visited historic sites, went to former slave trading dungeons and attended guest lectures hosted by Ghanaian academia.

In the fall of 2008, she began her tenure at UMass as a professor in the history department. According to Krauthamer, it was the school’s highly reputable African American Studies program and the New England region that attracted her.

Krauthamer also created new undergraduate courses such as “Women and Slavery” and two junior year writing seminars; one pertaining to African American history in New England and another pertaining to African American women’s history in politics. She also created a lecture course called “Slavery and Freedom in Antebellum America.”

In the fall of 2015, she became the associate dean of the UMass graduate school. As associate dean, she created a fellowship program for underrepresented students in non-science graduate programs. According to a UMass’ press release, she also created “the Research Enhancement and Leadership Fellows program, the Summer Dissertation Fellows program and the STEM Faculty-Student Research Fellowship,” which provide financial resources and faculty mentorship to graduate students.

This May, she became the dean of the graduate school. As dean, she makes sure that all graduate students build and maintain good relationships with their advisors. She also supplies funding for research or conferences graduate students may be attending.

“I like the opportunity to think broadly about graduate education at UMass and the future of the graduate education in our country and to help shape the future of graduate education,” Krauthamer said.

Joye Bowman, a colleague and history professor viewed Krauthamer as “an amazing teacher, scholar and administrator.”

“[Krauthamer’s] work on African American and Native American history is ground breaking,” Bowman said. “She looks at women, slavery and emancipation in new and exciting ways—bringing the lives of individuals to light in new and unique ways. Professor Krauthamer is truly a public intellectual, who is interested in engaging with students in the classroom, but also with people in the community.”

Alvin Buyinza can be reached at

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