Center for 17th-Century Studies at Plimoth


The Center for Seventeenth-Century Studies at Plimoth (The Center) is a collaborative community of scholars and lifelong learners who amplify Plimoth Plantation’s living history offerings, originals and archaeological collections, research, and oral histories to stimulate thought-provoking conversations that interpret 17th - Century Atlantic World experiences and apply that knowledge and understanding to today’s world.

We believe that history is transformative. It empowers us with stories of peoples and ideas. It enables us to cultivate a better understanding of who we are. At The Center, we create space for conversations and experiences interwoven with elements that are immersive and participatory, inclusive and social, personal and relevant, lively and fun. We invite everyone to join the conversation, and we strive to inspire curiosity, change, and community. We can`t change history - but history can change us, and we can change the future. 


IN THE NEWS: Our Interns Are Change-Makers!

Vanessa Sherman (Bridgewater State University `19) has been a Public History Research Intern with the Center for 17th-Century Studies since 2016. Now her work with Dr. Jordan Barkalow (BSU) and Plimoth Plantation's Deputy Executive Director Richard Pickering is taking her to Washington DC to talk about the Mayflower Compact and its constitutional legacy with our nation's top lawmakers. 


Internships & Fellowships


Public Humanities Fellowship

The Public Humanities Fellows will join Plimoth Plantation at a pivotal moment in the Museum's history. As we enter the important anniversary years of 2020 and 2021, Plimoth is in the process of implementing Along the Shores of Change, the first comprehensive interpretive plan in the Museum's 75-year history. This transformation is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We are seeking candidates to fill two positions -- one focused on the history of Indigenous southern New England through 1700, and the other focused on 17th-century Anglo-European/Indigenous interactions which occurred across the same landscape. Through their original research as well as their role in the development of accurate and engaging exhibits, educational programs, publications and staff training materials, fellows will advance the Museum's efforts to broaden public understanding of 17th-century America. One fellow’s research project will focus on patterns of material exchange evidenced in Native and colonial dwellings between 1620 and 1692 by creating an object-based history experienced across all the Museum's living history sites. Another research project will deepen the Museum's thinking on and representation of religion and spirituality in the development and transformation of 17th-century communities in southern New England. Fellows will also assist in the planning and implementation of a plenary conference in March 2020. 




The Internship Program at Plimoth Plantation supports students or career-change professionals with an interest in America’s early histories, Indigenous studies, museum education, theater, horticulture, and a passion for sharing it with the public. Plimoth Plantation's interns enjoy an intensive experience as diverse as the Museum itself as they take part in the day-to-day work of one of our nation's most important living history museums. This immersive, nine-week program combines hands-on fieldwork with enrichment opportunities, professional development, and career readiness.

By participating in the Internship Program at Plimoth Plantation, interns will:

  • Gain invaluable professional experience while applying their chosen field of study in a unique museum setting
  • Explore our unique approach to public history and the humanities in weekly fieldwork sessions with the Museum’s Directors and Curators;
  • Make life-long friends and expand their professional networks;
  • Participate in a vibrant living-learning community at  the Center for 17th-Century Studies at Plimoth


To apply for the internship program at Plimoth Plantation, please submit an online applicationDeadline for applications is April 1, 2020. Acceptances are made on a rolling basis.  Full-time and part-time internships are available. Unless otherwise noted, internships are unpaid. Academic credit is available for all internships. For more information about the Internship Program at Plimoth Plantation, visit our FAQs page or email

Research & Scholarship 

Plimoth Plantation's ground-breaking living history is rooted in decades of thorough research into the complex histories and lifeways of the colonial and Indigenous peoples of the Northeast. The Museum's commitment to fostering innovative new scholarship enables us to better educate, entertain and engage 21st-century audiences in stories from our shared histories through award-winning programs and exhibits. 

Collections & Research Library

Plimoth Plantation’s Archaeology Collections include objects from over fourteen sites, primarily in Plymouth, Barnstable and Duke counties, and include objects from 8-10,000 years ago through the 20th century. In addition to offering insight on over 8,000 years of human activity in the area, they form the largest repository of 17th-century archaeological material in New England. As a result, the Archaeology Collections are an invaluable research tool for archaeologists, material culture specialists, artists, scholars and others studying the region. These artifacts serve as the basis for numerous research projects, museum exhibits and publications, including books that are foundational to the field of Historical Archaeology. 

Research Library access is by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, please contact

Archaeology Collections 

  • Indigenous Archaeological Collections

The Native Archaeological Collection focuses on the Native peoples of southeastern New England, from the Archaic to Woodland periods. This group of objects includes the collections of Henry Hornblower II, Jesse Brewer, and Henry Hallet. Hornblower's and Brewer's collections include objects from Plymouth, Barnstable and Dukes counties. Hallet's collection ranges from Plymouth and Bristol Counties in Massachusetts to eastern Rhode Island. Finds from Plimoth Plantation-sponsored fieldwork in Plymouth County are also included in this subcollection.

  • Colonial Archaeological Collections

The Colonial Archaeological Collection includes artifacts from specific sites, primarily in Plymouth and Barnstable Counties, from colonial and early American sites ranging from the 1620s through the 18th century. These assemblages are used for study, exhibition and reproduction

Originals Collections

The Originals Collections include a wide variety of both historical and modern objects that shed light on 17th-century material culture. It is an invaluable research tool for archaeologists, artists,  material culture specialists, scholars and others studying the period by offering insight into 17th-century aesthetics, craftsmanship, construction techniques, tools, and daily life. Artifacts in this collection serve as the basis for research projects, exhibits and reproduction items. The Originals Collections is divided into the following subcollections:

  • Historical Objects
    Items in this subcollection illustrate the material culture with which the Pilgrims and Native people of southeastern Massachusetts would have been familiar, from approximately 1550 to 1700. These artifacts represent domestic, rural and maritime life and include tools and implements, fine art pieces, furniture, ceramics, textiles, and glass.
  • Fine Crafts Collection
    The Fine Crafts Collection includes objects such as the Plimoth Jacket, Native headdresses and reproduction pottery that were made for Plimoth Plantation by modern artisans using period techniques. This collection may include architectural or furniture fragments, other hand-crafted objects, and tools used to make them. These items are not regularly used for interpretive or educational purposes but may be included in exhibits, special programs or research projects.

  • The Mayflower II Collection consists of the ship, shallop, the ship’s boat, fragments of the ship that have been removed during restoration and deemed worthy of accessioning and items connected with her 1957 voyage. Archival material pertaining to the ship’s construction, voyage, maintenance, and restoration are kept in the separate Mayflower II Archive, which is overseen by the Archivist. Because of the diverse nature of this collection, the ship, ship’s boat and fragments removed during restoration are the responsibility of the Director of Maritime Preservation and Operations, the artifacts associated with the 1957 voyage are the responsibility of the Curator of Collections.

Project 400

Since 2013, an archaeological field school from the Fiske Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in partnership with Plimoth Plantation and the Town of Plymouth, has been working in downtown Plymouth as part of Project 400: The Plymouth Colony Archaeological Survey. The field school consists of five weeks of excavation in the summer, followed by analysis in the UMass Boston laboratories during the rest of the year. The project includes reassessment of the past archaeology of the Plymouth Colony and new excavations to locate sites that were part of the early colonial town. Working with community partners and descendant organizations, including the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and local museums, we are undertaking a series of initiatives focused on the Plymouth Colony to help advance a complex, inclusive, and scholarly understanding of the region’s Colonial and Native communities. 


The Visiting Scholar-in-Residence Program supports short-term, full-time research and study in collections maintained by Plimoth Plantation and area museums, libraries, and archives. Scholars live on-campus in The Hornblower House - the Center's official residence - from one night to multiple weeks, and are offered the opportunity to interact with fellow scholars, Museum staff and volunteers in a variety of programs, informal discussions and general Museum activities at the Museum or in the broader community. 

Application Process and Period of Work 
The Visiting Scholar-in-Residence Program is open to all who are currently engaged in or who plan to conduct research on the social, political, cultural, or material histories of Indigenous and Early America, the Atlantic World, or aspects of the ongoing impact of colonization. This includes academic scholars, public sector professionals in museums, public history, or related disciplines; independent scholars, graduate students, writers, filmmakers, and educators. Interested applicants should submit a letter of application, resume, a sample of written work and the names and contact information of at least three professional/academic references to Hilary Goodnow, Lifelong Learning Coordinator. Qualified candidates will interview with the Deputy Director of Education & Outreach and designated staff. Successful candidates will be offered an opportunity to be in residence. 



There are currently no symposia or conferences scheduled. 



Learning at The Center

The Center for 17th-Century Studies at Plimoth strives to stimulate thoughtful conversations about themes and ideas that unite us - risk, transformation, and community - and to make a positive difference in the lives of our guests through powerful personal encounters with history. This lively exchange of ideas; is collaborative; requires deep listening; builds understanding; shapes communities; is invigorating and can be simply fun. 

Lunch & Learn 

First Thursdays, January through December, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. in Henry Hornblower II Visitor Center at Plimoth Plantation

Feed your brain! Pack your lunch and join us for our hour-long Lunch & Learn lecture series!  Plimoth Plantation welcomes a lineup of lively, unique guest speakers who bring big ideas, humorous tales, and adventure stories to your lunch "table." For a full calendar of events, visit

Interwoven: a Podcast from Plimoth Plantation

Interwoven explores the ways stories weave through generations, communities, and cultures to inform our contemporary lives. Rooted deep in the 17th century, Interwoven expands beyond the relationships between the Wampanoag people and the Pilgrims to discuss larger cross-cultural interactions of the very people who lived along these shores of change.

Interwoven is available for streaming and download on iTunes and SoundCloud.         


The Hornblower House 

Generations of the Hornblower family spent summers in the classic Cape Cod summer cottage (built c.1920) overlooking gardens and grounds designed by the Frederick Law Olmstead firm. According to family stories, the idea for Plimoth Plantation was hatched in this house when Harry Hornblower - the Museum's founder - inspired family and friends with his passion for Colonial and Indigenous history. After the Hornblower family donated it to the Museum, the house evolved to accommodate Museum staff, interns, and visiting scholars. In the fall of 2018, Plimoth Plantation completed renovations to the historic Hornblower House, creating the official residence of the Center for 17th-Century Studies at Plimoth (the Center).

Today, The Hornblower House can accommodate up to 19 scholars, interns, research fellows, and industry thought-leaders in rooms with single, double, triple, and quad occupancy. Most rooms have an en suite bathroom and those which do not have easy to shared on-hall bathrooms. All residents have access to the shared kitchen, including cook and dishware, and laundry machines. The first floor - which includes common living space, the kitchen, a shared bathroom, and 2 bedrooms - is ADA accessible.