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Melissa Bingmann

Director of Public History, Associate Professor

Teaching Fields

  • Public History


  • PhD, Arizona State University
  • MA, University of South Carolina
  • BA, Arizona State University

Public History Projects

Dr. Bingmann is an academically trained public historian with eleven years of experience working in museum education where she trained docents, wrote exhibit labels, developed summer camps for children, led professional development workshops for teachers, created thematic tours, and wrote grants for professional development for teachers, museum exhibitions, and educational programs. She is especially interested in historic site interpretation and am currently writing a textbook for M.E. Sharpe, Inc., Interpreting America’s Stories Through Places: Sites, Stewardship, Technique.

She is also working with graduate students in the Public History program on several community projects, including creating an exhibition and outdoor waysides for the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston; developing interpretive tours and waysides for Arthurdale Heritage Inc. ; researching and creating content for the Historic 219 Seneca Trail, based on the records of the Federal Writers Project; and researching the history of the Fayette County 4-H.

Research Interests

Her current research interests include historic site interpretation, twentieth-century U.S. cultural history, education, childhood, and regional history. She recently completed Prep School Cowboys: Ranch Schools in the American West, that explores how ranch schools, private preparatory schools for boys, were designed to develop character, masculinity, and citizenship through immersion in a Western experience as a solution to the problem of the “rich man’s son.” In crafting her argument she explores cultural concerns about the sons of the elite in the interwar period by examining works of fiction and popular articles. She is also researching three historic sites that interpret the history of the Church of Latter-Day Saints to explore how the Church uses the past to inspire members and how the historical narratives constructed at each site reflect specific institutional goals and challenges.

Graduate Students

Ph.D. Students
M.A. Students
  • Nathaniel Bauder
  • Crystal Coon
  • Katie Lehosit
  • Megan Nielson
  • Elizabeth Satterfield
  • MaryAnn Steinmiller

Courses Offered

  • HIST 393/593: Museum Education
  • HIST 610: Historic Site Interpretation
  • HIST 615: Museum Studies
  • HIST 614: Public History Internships
  • HIST 750: Public History Methodology
  • HIST 793: Historical Administration
  • HIST 794: Digital History


Prep School Cowboys: Ranch Schools in the American West (University of New Mexico Press, 2015).

Guest editor, special Issue of West Virginia History, Spring 2014.

with Anna Johnson, Kim Huber, Nancy Cutler and Tim Grove, The Museum Educator’s Manual: Educators Share Their Successful Techniques (Lanham, Maryland: AltaMira Press, 2009).

“America’s Collection in Peril: The Heritage Health Index.” History News: The Magazine of the American Association for State and Local History (Summer 2007), 18-23.

“Prep School Cowboys: Arizona Ranch Schools and Images of the Mythic West,” Journal of Arizona History (Autumn 2002), 205-236.