Jennifer Lemak, PhD.

Faculty Member, School of Liberal Arts

Jennifer LemackDr. Jennifer Lemak is the chief curator of history at the New York State Museum. She earned her MA in Public History and PhD in History from the University at Albany. She is the author of Southern Life, Northern City: The History of Albany’s Rapp Road (SUNY Press, 2008) and several articles on the Great Migration to Upstate New York. Her next book will further develop the impact of the Great Migration on the cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

Most recently, Lemak curated the New York State Museum’s exhibit, An Irrepressible Conflict: the Empire State in the Civil War and has written on the Civil War Centennial in New York State. Lemak also serves as the Commissioner of Education’s representative on the New York State Board for Historic Preservation and the University at Albany’s Center for Applied Historical Research. She is an adjunct professor of history for the University at Albany and Excelsior College. Prior to her appointment at the New York State Museum, she served in the Curatorial Department at the Albany Institute of History & Art.


  • African American History
  • New York State History


  • Doctorate of Philosophy, American History, University at Albany, 2004
  • Master of Arts, Public History, University at Albany, 2000
  • Bachelor of Arts, History and Secondary Social Studies in Education, State University of New York College at Cortland, 1996

Awards and Recognitions

  • New York Academy of History, Fellow, February 2014
  • American Association for State and Local History 2013 Award of Merit,
    for exhibition, An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War, May 2013
  • New York State Museum Doctoral Fellowship, May 2002 – September 2004
  • University at Albany Research Benevolent Grant, 2003
  • University at Albany Initiatives for Women, Presidential Scholarship Award, 2002
    National Woodrow Wilson Practicum Grant

Selected Exhibitions

  • “The Brothers: The Forgotten Civil Rights Struggle in Albany,” curator, Albany County Historical Association, Fall 2014.
  • “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the NYS Centennial Commission,” curator, online exhibit, New York State Museum.
  • “Building a Collection: E. Martin Wunsch and NYS Decorative Arts,” curator, New York State Museum, November 2013 – January 2014.
  • “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War,” curator, New York State Museum, Areas I & III, September 2012 – March 2014.

Selected Presentations

  • “Creating Culinary Connections,” panel chair, Conference on New York State History, June 2014.
  • “Evolution of a Project: New York State in the Great Migration,” presenter, history Lives: University at Albany Public History Program at 30, April 2013.
  • “Treasures From the NYSM African American History Collection,” lecturer, New York State Museum, October 2011.        

Selected Publications

  • An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War,author, Exhibition Catalogue, State University of New York Press, Fall 2014
  • “The Incomplete Celebration,” author, New York Archives Magazine, Fall 2012
  • “Advancement Comes Slowly: African American Employment in Rochester, New York During the Great Migration,” author, New York History Journal, November 2011
  • “Frog Lady and the Devil,” author, New York Archives Magazine, Fall 2011
  • “Women in the Civil Rights Movement,” chapter author, The Civil Rights Movement: People and Perspectives, ABC-Clio Academic, May 2009

Professional Memberships and Affiliations

  • Board Member, New York State Board for Historic Preservation, 2011 – Present
  • Editorial Board, New York State Archives Magazine, 2009 – Present
  • Board Member, Center for Applied Historical Research, University at Albany, 2013 – Present