What is Public History

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Public History is a relatively new field and even though it is not the newest field in history, it is still not fully established. One reason for this is that there is not an exact definition of Public History. It is still in its beginning stages and exists as more of a general idea rather than something easily defined. Most public historians find it easiest to define it by giving examples of jobs that fall into the Public History field. For example, Kelley states, “In its simplest meaning, Public History refers to the employment of historians and the historical method outside of academia: in government, private corporations, the media, historical societies and museums, even in private practice.” Schulz, on the other hand, said that in the early years of this field, Public History “was (mistakenly) too often simply defined by what it was not – i.e., not academic history…” However, that is not a definition. While it is difficult to give this field a solid definition, I believe that it can be defined as an attempt to produce a new type of historian, one that thinks and learns like academic historians, approaches their audience at the audience’s level, and teaches the public while sharing the authority with them. With this definition, a public historian could be virtually anyone, in any field. It implies that public history is not a specific job that you get but instead it is training to think and therefore act in a different way.
In the past, public historians went to college and became an academic historian. Then, at some point in their life, they received on the job training to become a public historian. Some became archivists, interpreters, or even experts in preservation of historical sites . Today, in order to become a publ...

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...ory is my lifelong passion.

Works Cited

Robert Kelley, “Public History: Its Origins, Nature, and Prospects,” PH 1 (August 1978): 16-28 https://troy.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_17_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_369657_1%26url%3D (accessed February 15, 2014).
Constance B. Schultz, “Becoming a Public Historian,” in Gardner and LaPaglia, 23-40.
Schultz, Becoming a Public Historian, 23-40.
Ibid.
David Thelen, “History After the Enola Gay Controversy,” JAH 82, no. 3 (December 1995): 1029-1035 https://troy.blackboard.com/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_17_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_369657_1%26url%3D (accessed February 15, 2014).
Thelen, History After the Enola Gay Controversy, 1029-1035.
Kelly, Public History, 16-28.
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