Personal Narratives

History PhDs build careers in a stunning variety of professions. The following resources provide personal stories of history PhDs talking about what they do for a living, how they found their jobs, transitioning from graduate school, and what it means to be a historian in their line of work.

What I Do

What I Do: Historians Talk about Their Work is a web video series that answers some of the questions people have about where historians work and what they do. 

Expand the drop-down menu in the upper left-hand corner of the video below to browse the playlist.

Career Paths

Career Paths is an ongoing series in the AHA newsmagazine, Perspectives on History.  Related articles in Perspectives, not included under "Career Paths" are also listed on this page.

February 2020, Susan Ferber, "Graduate School is a Foreign Country: One Editor's Path to a Finding a Career in Other People's Books"

November 2018, Katherine Garland, "A Career in Development: How a Public Historian Became a Fundraiser"

January 2018, Katharina Matro, "For the Love of Teaching: My Journey from Graduate School to High School"

November 2017, Rachael Goldman, "Behind the Bidding: A History PhD in an Auction House"

September 2017, Veronica E. Tiller, "History, Indians, and Business: An Apache Story"

February 2017, Greg Eow, "The Conversationalist: From PhD to Librarian and Archivist"

January 2017, Julia Nguyen, "Prioritizing Happiness: From Teaching History to Grantmaking"

November 2016, Julia del Palacio, "A Tale of Reinvention: The Historian, the Dancer, and the Arts Administrator"

October 2016, Amanda Jeanne Swain, "Journey in Reverse: From Public Humanities to Academic Administration"

September 2016, Nicole Gilbertson, "Building Bridges: History PhDs and K-12 Curriculum Development"

April 2016, Ramona Houston, "Casting a Wider Net: History PhDs, Change Your Perspective!"

March 2016, Karen Marguerite Wilson-Ama'Echefu, "The Question of Career"

January 2016, David Neill and Michael Hill, "From Academia to ETS: Two Historians Reflect on Transitioning to the Private Sector"

October 2015, Ian J. Drake, "Second-Career History PhDs: Don't Abandon Your Past"

September 2015, David Merkowitz,  "From the Lecture Hall to the Office Suite: A Journey into the Public Humanities"

February 2015, Christopher Brooks, "Connecting the Dots: Why a History Degree is Useful in the Business World"

January 2015, Matthew Dallek, "A Historian in a Professional School of Politics"

December 2014, Ted Bromund, “From Academia to a Think Tank: Reflections on How to Be Lucky

November 2014, Jack Cumming, “History as Preparation for a Career in Business

October 2014, Robert Oxnam, “Launching Pad-PhD, Target-TBD

September 2014, Clifford Adelman, "The Edges of History"

May 2014, Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, "What I Learned at AHA 2014: A Mentor's Perspective"

March 2014, Chris McNickle, "A Historian in the World of Investments: How Historical Thinking Resonates in Business"

January 2014, Joshua Wolff, "A New Course: Converting a Passion for History into a Private Sector Career"

November 2013, Lauren Apter Bairnsfather, Pam Lach, Jason Myers, and Anne Mitchell Whisnant, "In Admin: Four History PhDs Discuss their Alt-­Ac Careers"

September 2013, John A. Lawrence, "A Historian on the Hill"