History 385

HIST 385
Public History

Catalog Entry

HIST 385
Public History
Three hours lecture: (3)

Prerequisite: Three hours of HIST at the 100 level.

Introduces students to the field of applied or public history and to the role that historians play in such diverse activities as historic preservation, historic site interpretation and management, historical societies, governmental historical organizations, and museums.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course is designed to introduce students to the field of Public History.  The course will focus on major questions and issues that pertain to the promotion, appreciation, and application of historical knowledge and skills in the public and private sectors, including the preservation, interpretation, and management of public and private historical resources.  Major topics covered include:
    -An Introduction to Public History
        a.    Defining the field of study
        b.    Comparing traditional history and public history
        c.    The divisions of public history
        d.    Careers in public history
        e.    The uses of history in public life
    -Historic Preservation
        a.    The history of historic preservation in the United States
        b.    Policy issues surrounding historic preservation
        c.    Historic preservation in the local community
        d.    Urban revitalization and gentrification
        e.    Government policy and historic preservation
    -Cultural Resources Administration and Management
        a.    Historic site interpretation and management
        b.    Establishing criteria for interpretation and management of cultural resources
        c.    Visual documentation
        d.    Historic site surveys and inventories
        e.    Presentation theories and methods
        f.    Archives and historical manuscripts
    -Local and Community History
        a.    Accessing local history resources
        b.    Genealogy and Family History
        c.    The importance of local history
        d.    Pitfalls of doing local history
        e.    Linking the nearby to the Universal
    -Public and Private Historical Organizations and Agencies
        a.    Historical societies and their purposes
        b.    History and the media
        c.    The basics of historical records management and preservation
        d.    Museums and the historical profession
    -Historians in Public Policy and Business
        a.    The practice of history in local, state, and national governments
        b.    Historians and urban planning and development
        c.    Public policy and historical decisions
        d.    The Role of the historical consultant
        e.    Corporate histories and corporate archives

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will combine lectures, class discussions based on assigned readings, media presentations, guest speakers, diverse writing assignments, and field trips to create a classroom environment that is based on student engagement.  The course will also require collaborative research opportunities in both traditional library-based sources and in experiential settings.  The course will provide the academic support services that students need in order to succeed.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

Department Goals:
1. Students will practice thinking critically and analytically about historical issues, acquire a broader knowledge and deeper understanding of pertinent historical events and processes, and cultivate a familiarity with the concepts of historical argument and interpretation.
2. Students will develop disciplinary research skills by designing strategies to locate and analyze primary and secondary source evidence, processing and organizing the resultant data, and composing proper citation and bibliographical entries.
3. Students will apply their critical thinking, research, and compositional skills to the creation and presentation of thesis driven essays that discuss, for example, historical social, economic, political, and/or cultural developments and that address issues such as the causes and consequences of historical change and continuity.

Course Goals:
Having successfully completed the course, the student will:
    -Be better able to understand the nature and practice of the various forms of Public History.
    -Have a better understanding of the history of various kinds of Public History in the United States such as historic preservation and museum development.
    -Have a better understanding of the contributions of state, local, and federal governments to the preservation and management of the nation's historical resources.
    -Have a better understanding of the public policy issues surrounding the management and administration of public historical resources.
    -Be better equipped to seek a career in historical fields other than teaching.
    -Have had a real experience working on some field of Public History.
    -Better understand the relationship between the work that academics do to interpret history and the way history is presented in a public setting.

Assessment Measures

Knowledge and understanding of the material covered in this course will be measured using an array of assessment tools that may include, among other things, class attendance and participation, written examinations, formal writing assignments of various types, and informal writing assignments. All exercises are designed to expand the student's ability to evaluate historical events and to develop his or her ability to compose persuasive arguments.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval
October 2010 Reviewed and Approved by Sharon A. Roger Hepburn, Chair