NCPH has long been involved in the education of public history students. This page offers a range of resources to guide and inform current students of public history or those looking to enroll in a program.

Guide to Public History Programs

The GUIDE TO PUBLIC HISTORY PROGRAMS is a free, comprehensive resource for prospective students. Standardized formatting makes it easier to compare resources and practices, whether at graduate or undergraduate levels. Schools are searchable by program type, degrees offered, program strengths, and location.

The Public History Navigator

THE PUBLIC HISTORY NAVIGATOR is a “consumer’s guide to public history programs” designed to help history undergraduates prepare for, select, and succeed in a graduate public history program. The Navigator also includes links to other online resources that will help undergrads navigate the waters of grad school. It’s also great for high schoolers who are considering pursuing history or public history as their focus of study in college.

Public History Employer Report and Survey

Based on a survey of 401 public history employers, this report surveys trends in public history employment since the 2008 recession. It was compiled by the Joint Task Force on Public History Education and Employment of the American Association for State and Local History, the American Historical Association, the National Council on Public History, and the Organization of American Historians. It identifies skills and knowledge employers consider valuable for entry-level professional positions, what employers look for when hiring for mid-career and senior positions, and skills and expertise that employers see as increasingly important. The report also considers broad trends affecting historical organizations and institutions and recommends steps for public history programs to take to prepare students for post-graduate opportunities and long-term career growth. Finally, the report recommends greater advocacy on the part of national, state, and local historical organizations to combat anti-intellectualism and increase appreciation for historical scholarship and history education. The report is here. A supporting document compiling all of the survey comments is also available here.

Public History Careers Report and Survey

In 2016-17, the Joint Task Force on Public History Education and Employment surveyed alumni of MA programs in public history and closely related fields to obtain information about career trajectories and employment experiences. The survey obtained 1,488 responses. “Career Paths in Public History,” a report prepared by the Joint Task Force, summarizes the major findings of the survey. The survey data shows that most graduates of public history programs find employment in the field within a year of graduating; the majority of public historians remain in the field over time; and public historians report relatively high levels of job satisfaction. Comments submitted by respondents, however, express significant concerns about the conditions of public history employment, competition for jobs, and the future of the field. The report is here. Three appendixes present the survey questions, the survey data, and comments submitted by respondents.

Careers for Students of History

Sponsored by the American Historical Association and the NCPH, and authored by faculty and students in the Public History Program at the University of South Carolina, the 2002 edition of Careers for Students of History is for students interested in pursuing a career in history. This edition discusses numerous career possibilities and includes interviews with prominent historians in all fields of history, ranging from academic and publishing, to public and consulting.

Jobs in Public History

This “Tips for Getting a Job in the Public History Field” video was produced by NCPH, UTEP, & AASLH.

NCPH maintains a jobs listing page, which is a free service our organization provides to the public history profession. Job seekers can search by field, position type, and location. Jobs are updated weekly.

On August 31, 2022, NCPH’s New Professional and Student Committee hosted a Public History Hangout with representatives of NCPH’s Government Historians Committee on federal history jobs (getting them and having them). Check out the recording on our Youtube channel.


Social Media

NCPH maintains organizational accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Bluesky. A few of our committees also manage related Twitter accounts, follow them for more specific content: NCPH Consultants Committee, NCPH Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA), NCPH New Professional and Student Committee, NCPH Government Historians Committee.

If you are an NCPH member, there are additional social media perks. You can request to join the NCPH Members’ Forum on Facebook, where you can ask questions, share successes or concerns, publicize a project or event, or just catch up with public history friends. Meanwhile on Instagram, you can sign up to do a week-long takeover of the account, where you can share posts and stories about your work. Send us a Direct Message on Instagram or email us at [email protected] if you’re interested!


Resources for Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

The NCPH Board-led Sub-Committee on Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment has compiled a list of resources to help those who work in the field of public history. The document includes links to websites, articles, books, and more that aim to both support those who have experienced gender discrimination or sexual harassment and to guide organizations in developing their own policies and best practices related to these issues. This is a living document that will be periodically updated. If you have questions or suggestions on resources to be added please email us at .

Other Resources

Check out the Around the Field posts on our blog, History@Work. Around the Field is posted every other week with the most up-to-date links for workshops and learning opportunities, calls for proposals for conferences , awards, and publications.

How I became a Public Historian

Careers & Training Denise Meringolo

Denise Meringolo is Assistant Professor of History and coordinator of the public history track in the Department of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Before I became a public historian, I was a museum professional. Over the course of my work and my education, I have come to think of those two professional identities as complementary but distinct.

As an undergraduate American Studies major, I found my way into museum work through an internship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. There, I had the good fortune to work for Edith Mayo, who was the women’s history expert in what was then called the Division of Political History. Mayo took me under her wing and through the locked doors of the museum’s collections, where I handled artifacts that didn’t simply interest me. They moved me.

As a student of American history and culture, I had been trained to believe that historians were objective and that the most scholarly historical narratives were therefore unemotional. So, I tried to hide the fact that the banners crafted by the National Woman’s Party and the jailhouse door pin Alice Paul gave to protestors who were arrested outside Woodrow Wilson’s White House quite literally brought tears to my eyes.

I quickly discovered that the Smithsonian’s exhibits moved our visitors, too. I often answered letters from visitors moved with pride–or with anger–by the installation of particular artifacts or the interpretation of particular pasts. Typically, I responded to these missives with little more than a nod to emotion and with far more than a page-worth of historical context to explain the interpretive process behind museum display. I’m certain these letters didn’t answer the real question most visitors were trying to ask: is there space for me in this history?

I left the Smithsonian in 1995, after accepting a job as the curator of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington. When stakeholders at the Jewish Historical Society—visitors, donors, members, community organizers—discovered that I was neither a native Washingtonian nor Jewish, they asked me some variation of the same question: “Why do you care?” Invariably the question was not a defensive one. Rather, it conveyed a real curiosity about my role in the life of the community.

And, indeed, I had no satisfactory answer.

Their question forced me to confront the fact that I might love history and appreciate artifacts, I might be an excellent researcher and a good writer, but I did not know anything about what it meant to be a public historian. I did not know what my role should be in helping a community define itself. I did not know how to be both scholarly and of service.

The past is meaningful in the development of community ties; no amount of intellectual distance will change that. For me, the necessary work of balancing service-oriented interest in community life with scholarly interest in historical research and narrative makes public history exciting—not to mention frustrating, awe-inspiring, and rewarding.

Today, I am an Assistant Professor of History and coordinator of the public history track in the Department of History, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I am honored to be training the next generation of public historians who will respond to visitor outrage with more empathy than I felt free to express when I began my career 17 years ago. As an active member of the National Council on Public History, I find that I am among friends who understand in a personal and profound manner that history and emotion are not mutually exclusive—nor are service and scholarship.

Alexandra Lord was the Acting Historian at the United States Public Health Service in 2007 when she wrote this article. She now works for the National Park Service as the Branch Chief for the National Historic Landmarks Program.

Alexandra Lord was the Acting Historian at the United States Public Health Service in 2007 when she wrote this article. She now works as a Curator for the National Museum of American History.

When I was nine, my father, an attorney with a passion for history, told me that historians worked in archives where they read and worked with objects from the past. That, combined with all the stories my older sister told me about Henry VIII and his wives, was enough to get me hooked: I couldn’t imagine anything better than being an historian.

At Vassar College, I majored in Medieval and Renaissance Studies while fulfilling the requirements for a history major. After college, I worked at The Walters Art Gallery. I loved the emphasis which museums placed on public education.

When I began my doctorate in history, I believed that historians worked not only as professors but also as curators, researchers, documentary film makers, and archivists. Unfortunately, during my five years in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, my understanding of what historians could do narrowed. Like most of my peers, I became convinced that historians, at least the “best” historians, worked only in universities. It was no surprise, then, that I wound up becoming a tenure-track professor.

Teaching was wonderful but many aspects of academia frustrated me. Although I always changed the books and assignments, my classes had to cover the same basic principles, year in and year out. Additionally, I believed that ground-breaking historical research should be written for both historians and people like my father—non-historians who could use history to gain insight into current issues. But tenure and promotion did not reward historians who wrote for the general public. In fact, many academics seemed to spurn civic engagement altogether.

Gradually, I came to see academia as providing not a refuge but rather a retreat from the world and, in 2000, I decided to re-enter the world. If I knew what the term “public historian” meant at that time, I probably believed that I could never become one because my education was in European medical history. But that spring, I interviewed to be an historian for the US Public Health Service. When I tentatively mentioned that my background was not in American history, my interviewer told me that the most important skill which a public historian needed was the ability to grow and learn.

For public historians, there is no such thing as a typical day. I frequently work with reporters, film makers, Congressional legislators and other researchers, educating them on the history of medicine. I love never knowing what questions I will be asked! I also work with Save Ellis Island and other historic sites, helping to preserve and restore these sites. More recently, I curated an exhibit on the history of nursing and I provided an historical analysis of flu pandemics to government officials planning for a new outbreak. I also lecture at universities, historic sites and community centers. Best of all, I am researching and writing a book for both historians and the general public on the history of federally funded sex education.

For me, public history has opened new doors into how I understand and practice history. Visit Alexandra’s web site at