Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Social Sciences

Advisor 1

Timothy Scarlett

Committee Member 1

Angie Carter

Committee Member 2

Mark Rhodes


Industrial Heritage Museums and Organizations (IHMOs) in the United States (US) and their volunteers are underrepresented in the literature on volunteerism. The motivation and demographics of volunteers in IHMOs within the US are examined in this paper. Research into this topic is exploratory and little is known, therefore any hypothesis was based on personal observations as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in a variety of US museums. An online survey was sent out to three hundred and eighty-five museums across the US, along with conducting twelve in-person or over-the-phone interviews with museum practitioners and volunteers. This research found that a majority of IHMO volunteers are sixty years or older, male, white, hold a bachelor’s degree, and/or are retired. The results of this research indicate a lack of age, gender, and race/ethnic inclusivity within IHMOs. I provide discussion on how IHMOs may be able to increase volunteer activity through the inclusivity of minority and disserviced groups, as well as how topics, such as industrial heritage, industrialization and de-industrialization, and familial ties play into volunteer motivation.