About Us | History Design Studio

About the
History Design Studio

Our Mission

The History Design Studio is a workshop for the most exciting new ideas in multimedia history. Joining a commitment to the professional practice of history with an experimental approach to form and presentation, the HDS is a creative space where students and scholars can design new modes of historical storytelling. We express historians’ core values through the innovative methods of artisanship and craft. Extensive use of primary sources, keen historiographical awareness, attention to change over time, and an overarching respect for evidence guide our projects in databasing, storyboarding, audiovisual narration, performance, cartography, and software development. By stretching the canvas of historical scholarship, studio participants make lasting contributions to the understanding of the past and its many meanings.

Our People

Professor Vincent Brown


Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of History and Professor of African and African-American Studies, is the director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University.  His research and creative endeavors focus on the political dimensions of cultural practice in the African Diaspora, with a particular emphasis on the early modern Atlantic world.  A native of Southern California, he was educated at the University of California, San Diego, and received his PhD in History from Duke University, where he also trained in the theory and craft of multimedia.

Amy Alemu

HDS Digital Fellow

Amy Alemu is a Ph.D. Candidate in African and African American Studies. She holds A.M. and A.B. degrees in History from Harvard. Her dissertation research is on the political imaginaries of transnational movements through a history of Ethiopian student organizing in the United States. 

Before beginning her Ph.D. at Harvard, she worked as a Digital Design Fellow at the Ethelbert Cooper Gallery for African and African American Art, where she created multimedia projects for art exhibitions and public programs. Since then, she has also served as a Digital Teaching Fellow, seeking ways to introduce students to digital tools and design approaches to support course content and to catalyze independent research projects.

Robin McDowell

History Design Studio Fellow

Robin McDowell is a Ph.D. Candidate in African and African American Studies at Harvard. She holds an A.M. in History from Harvard (2018), an M.F.A. in Design from the University of Texas at Austin (2015), and a B.A. in Fine Arts from The University of Pennsylvania (2008).

Her current work focuses on race, labor, and environmental histories of capitalism in Louisiana’s River Parishes in the 19th century. This research is influenced by ongoing work in New Orleans and beyond as a community organizer, French Quarter tour guide, and graphic designer.

Our Supporters