Of Interest to Public Historians

Debbie Ann Doyle | Dec 1, 2007

This article highlights some of the sessions and events that will be of interest to public historians and colleagues wishing to learn more about the field.

As the AHA's public history coordinator, I would like to extend a special invitation to public historians and their colleagues to attend the open forum on public history to be held Saturday, January 5 at 11:30 a.m. in the Marriott's Wilson Suite C (121). The session offers a chance to speak with members of the Professional Division (PD) about the Association's progress in implementing the recommendations of the AHA's Task Force on Public History (2001–05). The conversation will help set priorities for the future of public history in the Association. Those attending the session are encouraged to review the key recommendations of the Task Force on Public History at www.historians.org/info/public.cfm.

A key task force recommendation was for the AHA to "reopen the discussion about what 'counts' in the work of history faculty, with the goal of encouraging history departments to recognize a wide range of scholarly activities in hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions." Toward that end, the AHA, the National Council on Public History, and the Organization of American Historians have formed a joint Working Group on Evaluating Public History Scholarship to propose standards for assessing public history activities in academic tenure and review. The AHA Professional Division will sponsor a session to help launch the working group, entitled Public History, Tenure, and Review: Continuing the Conversation about Redefining Historical Scholarship (89) on Saturday, January 5 at 9:00 a.m. in the Marriott's Maryland Suite A.

On Saturday evening from 6–7:30 p.m. in the Marriott's Coolidge Room, public historians and anyone with an interest in the field are invited to a reception hosted by the Professional Division, the American Association for State and Local History, the National Council on Public History, the National Museum of American History, and the Society for History in the Federal Government.

Public historians will find many sessions of interest on the program this year, including a presidential session, Historians Going Public: Taking History to Newspapers, Radio, TV, Film, Public Libraries, Web Sites, and Blogs (209). Other sessions will focus on public history in federal and state government (56), classified history programs (103), and how diplomatic historians communicate with the public (47).

The Local Arrangements Committee has organized tours designed to encourage historians to interact with the local public history community, including previews of the Capitol Visitor Center and the President Lincoln's Cottage at the Soldiers' Home National Monument.

Other sessions will educate undergraduate and beginning graduate students about the range of career paths open to professional historians, including Three Public Historians Discuss Their Work (152), sponsored by the AHA Teaching Division; This Historian's Life: Careers for Historians in the Twenty-First Century (166); and a session sponsored by the Society for History in the Federal Government, Careers in Federal History: A Panel Discussion.

The AHA is committed to increasing the presence of public history at the annual meeting. We invite our colleagues to submit proposals for the 2009 meeting in New York. Please visit www.historians.org/annual for the call for proposals and access to the electronic submission system.

—Debbie Ann Doyle is the AHA's public history coordinator.



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