Cynthia Cowan has been named the new Regional Site Administrator, Metro Boston for Historic New England.
Cowan previously managed the Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds at Historic Newton, taught history at San Jacinto College, and worked as an educator and content developer with The Princeton Review. She holds an M.P.A. from Northeastern University, an Ed.M., Special Studies in Curriculum and Policy from Harvard University, an M.A., History from University of Houston, and a B.A., English/Print Journalism from Chapman University.
In her new role with Historic New England, Cowan directs programming, interpretation, and community engagement for Otis House in Boston, the Lyman Estate in Waltham, and Browne House in Watertown, along with supporting two additional site managers who are responsible for five other historic house museums in the Metro Boston region.
“Historic New England has begun some really good work on the ways we interpret history and the kinds of narratives that we’re including at our sites,” said Cowan. “I’m really excited to be a part of continuing that work and offering better stories to our visitors.”
Cowan said she’s particularly excited about Historic New England’s “Recovering New England Voices” project, as well as “all the ongoing work to tell better, more comprehensive stories about the region’s history.”
According to Historic New England, “‘Recovering New England’s Voices’ is our work to conduct new research that tells fuller and more comprehensive stories at our 38 historic sites. During the first year we had four full-time scholars who uncovered hundreds of previously unknown stories through extensive research at regional archives and libraries, and through oral histories and community outreach. This year, we have a scholar building on that research by focusing on the stories of free Black and enslaved individuals connected to Historic New England’s sites and communities.”
Said Cowan: “In many ways our ‘Rediscovering New England Voices’ project looks at the history of marginalized, or excluded, or suppressed narratives that are related to the work we do at our sites. As someone whose background is as historian focusing on slavery and its legacies, the notion of recovering and restoring stories that have always belonged in our narratives to rightful place is work I find enormously important and valuable.”
Moreover, Cowan is also now focusing on recruiting all the guides needed for the season at all the Historic New England sites ahead of the open houses on June 3, when admission to all of its sites will be offered free of charge to the public.
And Cowan promises Historic New England has much more planned for the near future.
“It’s an exciting time for Historic New England,” she said. “We have a lot of things going on, and you’ll hear more from us about these projects as the spring and summer unfold.”
Cowan replaces Michael Maler, who recently left Historic New England to launch Crescendo Productions, his own special events and programming production-company.
For more information on Historic New England, visit historicnewengland.org.