Kenneth Cohen

Photo of Kenneth Cohen Edward & Helen Hintz Secretarial Scholar, and Curator of American Culture and Politics
Smithsonian Institution
1400 Constitution Ave. NW
National Museum of American History
Washington, District of Columbia 20007
Email: cohenk@si.edu
Phone: 202-633-1631

Visit Kenneth's Research Website

Research Disciplines: Research Interests:

Chesapeake Social Legal Economic and Environmental History 1400-1900, Atlantic World Material Culture 1400-1900, History of Popular Culture and Entertainment 1600-Present, Cultural Resource Management and Strategic Planning, Community Engagement Strategies

View Kenneth's CV

Biographical Sketch

I am a historian interested in exploring the past’s relevance today. To that end, I have worked on a wide range of public-facing and scholarly projects, from interpretations of African American farm labor over two hundred years in Southern Maryland and the redesign of an aquarium to incorporate the social and economic history of watermen, to award-winning publications on the history of recreation and entertainment practices in the Chesapeake and beyond.

My training in diverse methods of historical research, from material culture to business records, traditional documents, and cutting edge digital text mining, ensures that I am able to pursue the most robust set of historical evidence available and craft the most inclusive and compelling interpretations for your project.

In addition to this research profile, I have worked with dozens of community organizations to incorporate their voices into public-facing and policy discussions, as well as to develop strategic plans to ensure their lasting impact.

 


Education

  • Ph.D., History, University of Delaware (2008)
  • M.A., Winterthur Program in American Material Culture (2002)
  • B.A., History and Communications, Allegheny College (1998)


Other Research

Selected Public-Facing Projects:

Fulbright Award Project, Musée des Civilisations (Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), 2015-2016

Designed and coordinated cataloguing of 5,000 objects (1/3 of collection) of the National Museum (Musée des Civilisations). Helped raise $30,000 to support photography and documentation, including support from Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, George Mason’s Center for History and New Media, and scholars from America, Africa, and Europe. Project is ongoing, with hopeful end product of an Omeka-based online catalog of objects dating from the first century AD to the 1950s, with object descriptions as well as thematic essays provided remotely by experts from around the globe.

Calvert Marine Museum (Solomons, MD), 2013-2015

Advised on $150,000 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant application, and acted as consultant tying environmental and economic history into estuarine biology exhibit.  Led exhibit evaluation team, managing $20,000 budget and executing front-end focus group discussions, formative observations and interviews, and summative mind-mapping and surveys, providing detailed insight that guided planning and adjustments to installation.

National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC) 2012-2013

Advised on the design of educational programming intended to link art collection to AP US History courses.

Accokeek National Farm (Accokeek, MD), 2012

Advised summer programming focused on rural entertainments, including editing and revising a scripted performance, as well as staging a “court day,” replete with games and a Quarter Horse race.

Sotterley Plantation (Hollywood, MD), 2010-2011

Led complete redrafting of interpretive plan and tours, as well as new refurnishing and collection plans, funded by a $40,000 IMLS grant. Result increased visitation by 20% over two-year period and earned coverage in Washington Post and other regional newspapers.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Research:

  • They Will Have Their Game: Sporting Culture and the Making of the Early American Republic, 1750-1860 (Cornell University Press: 2017).
    • 2018 Broussard Prize for best first book on the Early Republic, Society of Historians of the Early American Republic
  • “The Manly Sport of American Politics, Or, How We Came to Call Elections “Races,” Common-Place 12:3 (Apr. 2012).
  • “‘The Entreaties & Perswasions of Our Acquaintance’: Gambling and Networks in Early America,” Journal of the Early Republic 30:3 (Fall 2011), 599-638.
    • Recognized by National Affairs as a notable scholarly article for 2011
  • “Well Calculated for the Farmer: Thoroughbreds in the Chesapeake, 1750-1830,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 115:4 (Fall 2007), 370-411.
  • “‘A Mutually Comprehensible World?’ Native Americans, Europeans, and Play in the Eighteenth-Century Mid-Atlantic,” American Indian Quarterly 26:1 (Spr. 2002), 67-93.


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