History 3400 syllabus

 Public history entails the application of the skills and methods of history to the study, management, preservation, and interpretation of historical records and artifacts.  A public historian is a professional who can put his or her knowledge and skills to use in our society in such diverse activities as museum, historical society or archival work; neighborhood or community history projects; historic preservation and cultural resource management programs; and local, state, or federal research projects.  Working with architects, librarians, business people, government policy analysts, exhibit designers, or history enthusiasts, public historians contribute to our understanding of the past.

    Public History is history that is seen, heard, read, and interpreted by a popular audience. Public historians expand on the methods of academic history by emphasizing non-traditional evidence and presentation formats, reframing questions, and in the process creating a distinctive historical practice....Public history is also history that belongs to the public. By emphasizing the public context of scholarship, public history trains historians to transform their research to reach audiences outside the academy. (See: New York University Public History Graduate Program)

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will hone their skills in reading, writing, thinking, and presenting.
  • Students will become knowledgeable about the theories and issues of public history.
  • Students will gain experience working in public history
  • We will pay particular issues to these questions (among others):

    How is history communicated to the public?
    How do public history sites contribute to public memory?
    How and why do controversies emerge in public history settings?
    What is the relationship between academic history and public history?
    How does tourism economics affect the practice of public history?
    What career opportunities exist for historians beyond the classroom?


  • Lyon and others, An Introduction to Public History
  • additional readings

Activities in Support of Learning: This is a seminar, not a lecture course. The seminar requirements are:

  • Regular attendance, thorough preparation, and active participation in discussions, presentations, Internet and library research, field-trips.
  • academic journal
  • 1 short paper. These papers will be related to assigned readings, presentations, etc. (10 points)
  • 2 oral presentations on assigned topics based on readings. (30 points) Students will also make a number of informal oral presentations.
  • projects:  

Field Trips


Intermountain Histories Project


Utah Museums Association 



Participation--in class discussions, the projects, etc.-- is highly valued in this class. Students will assess their participation in a short paper. 20 points.


Grades will be based on a percentage of the points possible. 95% = A.