Whether in archives, museums, cultural resources, historical editing, or heritage tourism, public history is the presentation and interpretation of the past to the public. Public historians should not merely learn the technical aspects of a given field; they should also be versed in the historiography and methodologies of contemporary scholarship so that they can apply skills and knowledge in the public realm. In that regard, even if they work in a variety of professional venues usually outside the academy, public historians share roles as researchers and interpreters of history with their academy colleagues. Public historians find employment in archives, museums, historic preservation agencies, historic sites, cultural resource firms, national parks and forests, editorial positions, and historical agencies.
Upon successful completion of this concentration, the student will be able to:
- Categorize and assess important historical developments in public history and identify the intellectual, ethical, and professional issues that public historians confront.
- Evaluate and verify current institutional collection policy and practices based on standard archival and records practice.
- Establish and reconstruct the processing of a collection: arrangement and description, preservation and digitization, and develop the skills necessary to successfully undertake applied research.
- Test and apply the use of oral history techniques and methodology to demonstrate how oral history supports a diverse resource base and audience across interdisciplinary fields.
- Distinguish and prioritize issues such as the relationship of collections and landscapes to identify the intersection of commerce and culture; and the influence of museums and exhibitions in preserving a view of the past and developing an image of progress.
- Prescribe and test the selection criteria for strategies for preservation, metadata to support digital preservation, maintaining the integrity and authenticity of digital materials, management of digitization and digital preservation programs, risk management, and disaster recovery.
- Manage and improve field experience and practicum in applied public history.