Public History

Introducing the Public History Track at UMD

Public history uses the past to serve a variety of contemporary needs. It 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 knowledge and understanding of the past.

Career opportunities for public historians include traditional academic positions, but more often employment can be found in local and state historical societies, state historical agencies, public and private libraries and archives, and numerous federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. Historians also find work with private research firms that undertake contracted research and historical report preparation, or they may contract independently for such work.

The track in public history strengthens critical research and writing skills. While completing the BA requirements in history, students will take public history courses and complete a capstone experience that results in a public history project.

The public history track augments traditional curricula by introducing students to areas outside the academic setting where they can apply their training. The track prepares students to adapt and apply skills in history to private and public audiences on the local, state, and national levels.  Public History internships offer further specialization.

History students have recently interned with local and regional heritage organizations:

Contact David Woodward to learn more about Public History at UMD.