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Director of Research - Job Description

Purpose: The Director of Research is the Society’s main point of contact with academia and other scholars. The Director manages all aspects of the Society’s research programs, including fellowships, seminars, and conferences. This position is also responsible for overseeing the editing of the Massachusetts Historical Review and Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, and overseeing any relevant special projects the Society undertakes. The Director’s work helps strengthen the Society's position as a research center for American history.

Reporting Relationships: This position reports to the President of the MHS.

Supervisory Responsibility: Manages a Research Coordinator and fellows, visiting scholars, and contract historians working on a special project. Oversees the work of the editors of the Massachusetts Historical Review and Sibley’s Harvard Graduates and the Colonial Collegians database. Total staff of 1 full-time and 1 part-time.

Scope: Nearly 900 fellowships granted to date worth more than $3.6 million. More than 30 seminars a year plus brown-bag lunches, receptions, a biennial conference, and certain scholarly publications that may include essay collections.

Major Responsibilities:

* Maintains an extensive network of academics and scholars, professional association members, and seminar participants that can be tapped when MHS projects require outside participation

* Responsibility for overseeing development and publication of two MHS serials—Massachusetts Historical Review and Sibley’s Harvard Graduates as well as the launch of the Colonial Collegians database

* Oversees several fellowship programs: MHS-NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) long-term fellowships, the Loring Fellowship on the Civil War (a collaboration with the Boston Athenaeum), and 20 short-term fellowships. Oversees the daily administration of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC), based at the Society

* As a key member of the MHS steering committees, organizes five MHS seminar series with more than 30 sessions annually. The current series include: African American History; Early American History; Modern American Society and Culture; Environmental History; and the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. A collaboration with the Publications Department to develop a Digital History seminar is also in process

* Plans, executes and manages MHS scholarly conferences; participation in editing collections of essays largely based on conference content

* Occupies a key position bridging the fields of academic and public history in the service of the Society’s mission

* Oversees the marketing of programs and fellowships in coordination with the Director of Communications and social media team.

* Raises funds through foundations, government grants, and individual donors to fund programs and fellowships in coordination with the V.P. of Development

* Oversees scholarly special projects, including developing project concepts, recruiting staff, writing content and/or acquiring material, and extensive editing as well as overall project management

* Develops and administers department budget

* Oversees management and administration of the MHS alumni association of fellows

* Keeps up with scholarly literature across relevant fields

* Requires attendance at evening and weekend events sponsored by the MHS or related to the work of the Society

Key Contacts:

External – Academics and other scholars working in relevant areas, NERFC representatives, seminar participants

Internal – President, Chair and members of Research Committee, V.P. of Development, Director of Communications, Director of Education and Public Programs, Head of Reader Services, Director of Publications


* Ph.D. in history or related subject


 * Minimum of 5 years’ experience in professional positions requiring significant interaction with scholars, at least equivalent to associate professor

* Breadth of scholarly knowledge and interest beyond a single historical subfield

* Demonstrated appreciation for the role of public history

* Establishing a deep and broad network of scholars

* Demonstrated success organizing scholarly seminars and/or conferences

* Experience in organizing and promoting scholarly programs

* Successful fundraising through foundations, government grants and individual donors

* Must have a track record of scholarly publication


* Excellent oral and written communications skills

* Strong planning and organizational skills with ability to prioritize and multi-task

* Superb analytical skills, as applied to both historical content and organizational process

* Detail orientation

* Networking and ability to build long-term relationships with external constituencies

* Influencing skills both internally and externally

* Strong capacity for leadership

* Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively including identifying new ways to look at and express information

* Ability to view topics from different angles and identify interests that can lead to scholarly publications, seminars and conference themes/topics

* Excellent listening skills

* High level of initiative

* Ability to negotiate effectively

* Problem-solving skills

Travel: Several conferences per year

Note: Nothing in this job description restricts management’s right to assign or reassign duties and responsibilities to this job at any time. 

Contact: Please send Letter of Interest and CV/Resume to Letters and inquiries should be to the attention of the Director of Research Search Committee.

Applications will be received until the position is filled.



The Society is an equal opportunity employer.

We are proud of the Society’s policy to administer all human resources actions and policies without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, military service or application for military service, pregnancy, gender identity and genetic information or membership in any other category protected under the law. All of the Society’s employment decisions and personnel actions, including, without limitation, recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, compensation, benefits, transfer, termination, layoffs, and training, are and will continue to be administered in accordance with and to further the principle of equal employment opportunity. Employment decisions are made based on merit, qualifications, and skill.

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