Recommended Readings for Public History Courses
The NCPH Curriculum and Training Committee is compiling annotated bibliographies of select books and articles for use in public history education. Please contact the committee at email@example.com with your comments.
For a list of the articles that have won the NCPH’s G. Wesley Johnson Award over the years, click here.
Best Practices for Public History Training
The NCPH Curriculum and Training Committee develops “best practice” documents for public history curricula and programs. Recognizing that each graduate or undergraduate institution has its own goals, resources, and needs, we hope these documents will highlight some of the core elements to which every program can aspire. Please contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments.
Guide to Public History Programs
This is a free, comprehensive resource for prospective students, faculty, employers, and anyone interested the shape of public history education today. Standardized formatting makes it easier to compare resources and practices, whether at graduate or undergraduate levels. The guide is also designed to be useful to museums and other public history institutions, government agencies, pre-collegiate schools, businesses, and community groups that want to identify potential academic partners in their geographical area. NCPH will continue to add listings as program directors supply their information.
New Directions in Training
Click here for occasional articles written exclusively for the NCPH website to enable public history educators to share ideas and participate directly in shaping best practices.
Academic Program Reviewers
The individuals listed here are available to offer expert advice to university and college departments or programs in public history.
Listserv for Public History Program Educators
Send us an email if you would like to join a discussion listserv for public history educators. Please include your name, email address, and the name of your department and program. Here is a sample discussion thread (about internships) that shows the kind of question one might post as well as the generous, collegial responses of list members.
Promotion and Tenure
“Tenure, Promotion, and the Publicly Engaged Academic Historian,” a joint report offering best practices for evaluating public history scholarship in history departments, was adopted by the NCPH, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Historical Association in spring 2010. The report provides clear advice for college and university administrators, department chairs, and faculty. It begins with an overview of existing promotion and tenure standards, analyzes the growing interest of college and university administrators in community engagement, and suggests how public history work should be evaluated as scholarship, teaching, and service. The committee that conducted this study hopes it will have ramifications beyond academia, perhaps in organizations, such as federal or state agencies, where the work of public historians is evaluated in promotion decisions. The report is here. A supporting white paper, also written by the committee, is available.
Tenure and Promotion Report — A Testimonial
After almost 10 years as an exhibition curator, under contract to the federal government in the US, I recently accepted a position as assistant professor of public history at a European university. Without any experience of the country’s academic system I was unsure how my previous work would be evaluated in establishing my terms of employment.
In the hope that my professional experience could be included when determining my rank, I sent a copy of “Tenure, Promotion, and the Publicly Engaged Academic Historian” and a salary table for the federal government, pointing out my place on that scale, and noting that, as some universities are only recently considering ways to measure public history work, I hoped this would be helpful.
In response, my years as a curator were counted as equivalent to years of university-level teaching. This is especially important as it means that I will be eligible to apply to move up to the next rank after just over 2 years in my new position – which is usually only possible with 12 years of experience.
I found the guidelines tremendously useful in outlining the issues new hires need to consider when negotiating an academic contract. It is particularly helpful that they are so short, as I did not feel it was burdensome to suggest that my future employer review them. While I don’t know for sure if they did, I can say that the report made me more aware of the issues I should be aware of, emboldened me to raise them during negotiations, and provided practical recommendations I could suggest if my employer had not proposed such an equitable and satisfactory solution.
Other Online Resources for Public History Educators
A number of organizations devoted to history practice and education have gathered resources of use to public history educators. Here are some of the most useful materials available online:
- For a short list of articles on public history in the college or university history department, including Cynthia Brandimarte’s Spring 2000 essay “Developing a Public History Program” click here. Click here for the 2004 report of the American Historical Association Task Force on Public History.
- See also Phil Katz’s article in the AHA’s Perspectives, “Public History Employers-What Do They Want?” and a wide variety of other articles at the AHA web page for public historians.