Master of Arts in History (Public History Area of Emphasis)
Public historians are historians who must also be skilled in working collaboratively and with clients who often decide the scope of research and define the historical questions to be answered. In developing a research plan, a public historian will always ask “Who is the audience?” and must understand the intended outcome for that research.
Public historians work in museums, archives, historic preservation,
for the federal government or as research consultants (e.g. for
corporate histories and commemorative events). For more information on the
definition of public history, please visit the National
Council on Public History.
The public history program trains historians who work in the public sector by grounding them in traditional research methodology learned in seminars and through public history courses designed to give students practical experience conducting client-based research. The work of public historians often requires a distinct set of research skills that moves beyond traditional archival research and historiographical argumentation. All students in public history learn to incorporate visual and material culture into historical narratives, use place as the center of historical analysis, and develop written and digital narratives that convey historical complexity that can engage public audiences.
Internships provide the day-to-day experience of working at a historical institution. The Department of History offers guidance for undergraduate and graduate students seeking internships and has a unique partnership with several National Park Service sites. The public history Facebook page is an excellent resource for learning more about what our current students are doing.