Michelle A. Hamilton

- Professor

image of Michelle A. Hamilton
PhD, University of Western Ontario, 2004
Telephone: 519-661-2111 ext. 84973
Email: mhamilt3@uwo.ca
Office: Lawson Hall 2216
Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:30-3:30pm

Research Interests

I am a Public Historian interested in historical and contemporary issues surrounding museums and heritage, repatriation, social memory and commemoration, cultural identity and issues of representation, usually in regards to Indigenous peoples in Canada. I am also interested in the history of Indigenous communities in Ontario and am currently researching the relationship between southwestern Ontario reserves and cities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

From 2005-2008, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Guelph, and with its 1891 Census of Canada project, researching the enumeration of Indigenous peoples in Canada, particularly the links between census-taking, race, and the regulation of Indigenous communities by the Department of Indian Affairs. As of 2018, I am the director of Hear, Here London, a SSHRC-funded audio documentary project that externalizes oral histories to the street. In 2020, I began working with the Journal of the Plague Year project out of Arizona State University to document the Canadian experience of the Covid-19 pandemic through this rapid-response digital archive.

Teaching Experience

I teach public history, material culture, the history of museums, and social memory for undergraduate and graduate students. My pedagogical approach emphasizes experiential, community-based, and collaborative learning. Over the past decade, my students have collaborated with many cultural and heritage organizations to produce museum and virtual exhibits, oral histories, popular publications, historic preservation reports, audio documentary and walking tours, and social media products. I welcome inquiries from MA and PhD students interested in public history. 

Select Publications


Dr. Oronhyatekha: Security, Justice, and Equality (2016) With K. Jamieson. Dr. Oronhyatekha: Security, Justice, and Equality. Toronto: Dundurn Press.
Franz Boas as Public Intellectual: Theory, Ethnography, Activism (2015) Franz Boas as Public Intellectual:  Theory, Ethnography, Activism. Eds. R. Darnell, M. Hamilton, R. Hancock, J. Smith. Lincoln:  University of Nebraska Press.
Collections and Objections: Aboriginal Material Culture in Southern Ontario (2010) Collections and Objections: Aboriginal Material Culture in Southern Ontario. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Book Chapters

(2019) With M.F. Dove. “Public Service or public service?: Public History in Canada.” What is Public History? Ed. P. Ashton, J. Lalzarliana and A. Trapeznik. Bloomsbury. 

(2015) "'An expansive archive…not a diminished one':  The Franz Boas Documentary Edition Project." Franz Boas as Public Intellectual:  Theory, Ethnography, Activism. Eds. R. Darnell, M. Hamilton, R. Hancock, J. Smith. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

(2015) With K. Inwood. "Mixed Ancestry Aboriginal Populations in Canada, 1871-1901.” Mariage et métissage dans les sociétés coloniales, Amériques, Afrique et Iles de l'Océan Indien, XVIe-XXe siècles. ed. G. Brunet. Bern: Peter Lang, 207-24. 

Journal Articles

(2017) “Canada’s First Indigenous Physician? The Story of Dr. O (1841-1907).” Canadian Journal of Surgery 60, 1: 8-10. 

Awards and Distinctions

2018-20 SSHRC Connection Grant, Hear, Here SoHo: Making Public Oral Histories of Marginalized Peoples 

2018 Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) Award for Excellence in Collaborative Teaching (with Mike Dove)

2018 Finalist, the Speaker's (Ontario Legislature) Book Award for Dr Oronhyatekha

2017 Ontario History Society Joseph Brant Award for Dr. Oronhyatekha 

2013-20 SSHRC Partnership Grant for the Franz Boas Papers Documentary Editing Project

2013 SSHRC Connection Grant for the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Public History/International Federation for Public History

2012 Finalist, the Speaker's (Ontario Legislature) Book Award for Collections and Objections

2012 Community Service Learning Grant, UWO

2011 Clio (Ontario) Prize Winner for Collections and Objections from the Canadian Historical Association

2011 Chalmers Award Winner for Collections and Objections from the Champlain Society

2011-16 SSHRC Standard Research Grant, for Aboriginal Peoples and the Canadian Census research project

Public History Experience

I have worked in the public history field for over 30 years, including at various museums across Canada such as the Museum of Ontario Archaeology (London), the Aylmer and District Museum, the Woodland Cultural Centre (Six Nations of the Grand River) and the Glenbow Museum (Calgary), in curatorial, interpretative, and collections management capacities. Locally, I have sat on various committees of Museum LondonFanshawe Pioneer VillageLondon Heritage Council, and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology. At the provincial level, I was a board member for the Ontario Heritage Trust (2018-21). Internationally, I sat on the Board of Directors of the National Council on Public History (2010-13), co-chaired its 2013 Annual Conference Program Committee, chaired its Professional Development Committee (2010-15), sat on the Curriculum and Training Committee (2018-21), and am now on the Program Committee for the 2022 annual conference to be held in Montreal. I have also acted as a consultant or contract researcher for organizations such as the JP Metras Museum at Western, the C.A.V. Barker Museum of Canadian Veterinary History at the University of Guelph, the Mississaugas of the Credit Nation, and Know History Historical Services. I am currently a member of the Ontario Museum Association's Indigenous Collections Working Group, and with Prof. Shelley McKellar, I manage the Medical Artifact Collection at Western.