Resources for Public Historians

The AHA has long been an advocate of public history and has regularly expressed a strong commitment to its practice. In 2001, the Council of the AHA created the Task Force on Public History to help the AHA to address, in a much more efficient and critical manner, the interests and concerns of public historians within the profession. The task force submitted its final report to Council in January 2004. The report recommended that the Professional Division be responsible for ensuring continued progress on addressing the concerns of public historians, though members strongly believed that public history should be integrated throughout the AHA’s programs and policies. A public history coordinator was appointed to facilitate implementation of the recommendations in the report. Perspectives on History devotes a regular column to public history that showcases its role within the historical profession, and gives voice to its many diverse, non-academic views of history.

AHA Documents on Public History

Tenure, Promotion, and the Publicly Engaged Academic Historian (June 2010)

Public History, Public Historians, and the American Historical Association: Report of the Task Force on Public History (January 2004)

Standards for Museum Exhibits Dealing with Historical Subjects (adopted by the Society for History in the Federal Government Executive Council January 1997, the National Council on Public History Executive Council March 2000, the Organization of American Historians' Executive Council April 2000, the American Historical Association Council January 2001, and the Medical Museums Association, April 2001)

Redefining Historical Scholarship (Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Redefining Historical Scholarship, December 1993)

The Historical Profession


No More Plan B: A Very Modest Proposal for Graduate Programs in History by Anthony T. Grafton and Jim Grossman (October 2011)

Plan C by Anthony T. Grafton and Jim Grossman (November 2011)

Mapping the Contours of the History Profession: Three Perspectives by Jim Grossman (December 2011)

A Picture of Public History: Preliminary Results from the 2008 Survey of Public  History Professionals by John Dichtl and Robert B. Townsend (September 2009)


Links to sites advertising public history positions and additional advice on finding a public history job

Looking for a Federal Job? Some Practical Advice (May 2006)

Practical Advice on Getting a Public History Job (April 2006)

Public History Employers-What Do They Want? A Report on the Survey (September 2003)

Historians and the Public

Meeting the Press: Twelve Tips for a Better Interview (November 2005)

Public History and Public Audiences: The U.S. Department of State and Its Historical Advisory Committee (January 2008)

Building Successful Partnerships between Museums and Universities (December 2007)

Historians and the Public(s) (May 2000)

National Park Service

Remembering Repression: The GULAG as an NPS Exhibit (November 2008)

On the Plain of Sand Creek, in the Valley of Washita (May 2008)

Public Education and the National Park Service: Interpreting the Civil War (November 2007)

America's National Park System: Sunset or New Dawn? (October 2007)

A Historian's Experience in the National Park Service (January 1999)

Producing the Pasts of a National Park (February 2000)

Public History in the Parks: History and the National Park Service (January 2000)


The Museum in the Middle: Strengthening the Role of the "Third Partner" in Educational Partnerships

(March 2004)

Doing History in Exhibit Halls: The History PhD and a Museum Career (February 2004)


A Historian in a House Divided: A Personal View of Recent Congressional History (December 2008)

Making History on the Hill: From Being a Fellow to Bequeathing a Fellowship (December 2008)

What Do Federal Historians Do? (May 1999)

Public History

Advising Undergraduates about Career Opportunities in Public History (March 2009)

Defining Public History: Is It Possible? Is It Necessary? (March 2008)

Teaching Public History (May 2004)

A Life with the Archives (March 2004)

State History Programs in Crisis (April 2003)

The Task Force on Public History: An Update (September 2003)

Putting Public History in Its Proper Place (March 2003)

AHA Establishes Task Force on Public History (September 2001)

Should We All Become Public Historians? (March 1997)

Negotiating Histories: Perspectives on Public History (May 1999)

U.S. Army Command Historians: What We Are and What We Do (April 2001)

Links to Sites with Related Information

The National Council on Public History (NCPH)
The NCPH strives to advance the role of public history within the historical profession and publishes the quarterly journal
The Public Historian in cooperation with the History Department of the University of California at Santa Barbara.

National Park Service
The NPS History Program is an excellent source of information for public historians.

National Register of Historic Places
Since its inception in 1966, nearly 73,000 properties have been listed in the National Register, and its vast database can be easily accessed through a research engine.

American Association for State and Local History
Through preservation and interpretation, the AASLH strives to give meaning to state and local history within American history. Its website offers research tools, job listings, and publications for its members.

The Society for the History in the Federal Government
Founded in 1979, the SHFG promotes the study and understanding of the history of the federal government and serves as its voice within American historical profession. The SHFG has an annual meeting and its website contains job listings for public historians interested in working within the federal government.

The Society of American Archivists
The SAA is North America's oldest and largest national archival professional association. It's website has an employment bulletin, periodicals, publications, and other information pertinent to those within the Archivist profession.

American Association of Museums (AAM)
The American Association of Museums is the national organization representing the museum community which strives to enhance the ability of museums to serve the public interest.

Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian website provides a wealth of information to historians wishing to work in the public sphere.