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Samuel Redman - University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amherst, MA, US

Samuel Redman

Professor of History and Director of Public History Program | University of Massachusetts Amherst


Sam Redman is best known for his work on the history of museums, especially the history of anthropology and archaeology.

Expertise (5)

History of Museums

Public History

Oral History

Historical Research Methodology

Memory and Cultural Heritage


Sam Redman is best known for his work on the history of museums, especially the history of anthropology and archaeology. His work has been featured in documentary films, recent essays, and in several major media outlets. He is also an accomplished oral historian, having organized major oral history projects at Berkeley and UMass. His oral history interviews have been cited in many theses as well as in scholarly and popular publications.

His writing has appeared in The Journal of American History, The Public Historian, Oral History Review, U.S. Intellectual History, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Civil War Book Review, International Journal of Heritage Studies, Reviews in American History, and Ethnohistory, among other venues.

His book, Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums was selected as a Choice Top-25 Outstanding Academic Title, Nature Top-20 book of 2016, and Smithsonian Top History Book of 2016.

Social Media






The Museum - interview with Samuel J. Redman - Pierre d'Alancaisez Samuel J. Redman | Oral History & Archives: Voice, Storytelling & Narrative in Historical Research The Douglas Coleman Show VE with Samuel J Redman Samuel Redman — Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums Samuel Redman Comments on the TikToker Selling Human Bones Online


Education (3)

University of California, Berkeley: Ph.D.

University of California, Berkeley: M.A.

University of Minnesota, Morris: B.A., Anthropology and History

Select Media Coverage (4)

Harvard's morgue scandal is part of ‘a much larger story' in trading human remains

NBC Boston  tv


Samuel Redman, professor of history at UMass Amherst, comments on allegations that organs and cadaver parts donated to Harvard Medical School were diverted and sold by a morgue manager. “This is a much larger story than most people understand or can really wrap their minds around,” says Redman, author of the book “Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums.”

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Revealing the Smithsonian's 'Racial Brain' Collection

The Washington Post  print


Samuel Redman comments on the Smithsonian Institution’s “racial brain collection,” which collected body parts of deceased people in the early 20th century at the request of an anthropologist who intended to use the collection to further now-debunked theories about anatomical differences between races.Of the 269 brains collected, only four have so far reportedly been repatriated to descendants or cultural heirs.

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A History of Museum Resilience: Q&A with Author Samuel Redman

American Alliance of Museums  online


To better understand this history of endurance, I reached out to UMass Amherst history professor Samuel Redman, who in 2022 published a book on the subject called The Museum: A Short History of Crisis and Resilience.

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‘There’s no words’: Relatives feel victimized by alleged scheme to sell donated human remains

The Boston Globe  print


Samuel Redman, author of the book “Bone Rooms: From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums,” says the case harkens back to the mid-19th century, when states began passing “anatomy acts” laying out the process for the legal buying and selling of medical human remains. “Where exactly these remains came from has long been an uncomfortable question with murky answers,” Redman says.

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Select Publications (5)

The Museum A Short History of Crisis and Resilience

Book – NYU Press

Samuel J. Redman


The Museum explores the concepts of “crisis” as it relates to museums, and how these historic institutions have dealt with challenges ranging from depression and war to pandemic and philosophical uncertainty. Fires, floods, and hurricanes have all upended museum plans and forced people to ask difficult questions about American cultural life. With chapters exploring World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic, the Great Depression, World War II, the 1970 Art Strike in New York City, and recent controversies in American museums, this book takes a new approach to understanding museum history.

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Prophets and Ghosts: The Story of Salvage Anthropology

Book – Harvard University Press

Samuel J. Redman


In the late nineteenth century, anthropologists, linguists, archaeologists, and other chroniclers began amassing Indigenous cultural objects—crafts, clothing, images, song recordings—by the millions. Convinced that Indigenous peoples were doomed to disappear, collectors donated these objects to museums and universities that would preserve and exhibit them. Samuel Redman dives into the archive to understand what the collectors deemed the tradition of the “vanishing Indian” and what we can learn from the complex legacy of salvage anthropology.

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Philadelphia and the Dark History of Collecting Human Remains

Perspectives on History

Samuel J. Redman


"In 2010, I found myself writing a history dissertation while seated at a desk next to a preserved human leg. While researching what would eventually become my first book, I encountered a whole range of remarkable and deeply unsettling situations, but perhaps no city with a legacy of human remains collecting hit me quite as hard as Philadelphia. Since that time, the city and its storied institutions have faced an important reckoning as it relates to historical medical and anthropological collections. ..."

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The Smithsonian at war: Museums in US society during World War II

Journal of the History of Collections

2020 This article describes the Smithsonian Institution’s involvement in World War ii. For a brief (but active) period the Smithsonian assisted the Army, Navy, and other war agencies. Museum staff eagerly shared ideas and information they had spent generations gathering; they were also willing to embrace the war effort as an opportunity to expand collections. While many museum contributions to the war effort were not made public, a book series on natural history and culture published by museum experts came to be known as the War Background Studies. Examining the Smithsonian’s response to ‘total war’, this article argues that the transformations experienced by the museum were largely temporary, with uneven levels of impact; it also explores how numerous significant intellectuals debated the museum’s future role in post-war society.

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Bone Rooms From Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums

Book – Harvard University Press

Samuel J. Redman


In Bone Rooms Samuel Redman unearths the story of how human remains became highly sought-after artifacts for both scientific research and public display. Seeking evidence to support new theories of human evolution and racial classification, collectors embarked on a global competition to recover the best specimens of skeletons, mummies, and fossils. The Smithsonian Institution built the largest collection of human remains in the United States, edging out stiff competition from natural history and medical museums springing up in cities and on university campuses across America.

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