Public historians present, interpret, and help to preserve history in a variety of venues and diverse formats. Specifically, public historians strive to apply their historical skills, knowledge, and insights in public settings and for public audiences not often associated with history in an academic setting, such as archives, museums, historic sites, public and private agencies and corporations, and non-profit organizations, to name only a few.
Public History Opportunities
At Stephen F. Austin State University students have the opportunity to develop these public history skills in a number of ways. Located southeast of Dallas and northeast of Houston in deep East Texas, Nacogdoches is ripe with many internship opportunities. As the only university in the area with a public history program, students commonly find positions or opportunities to work with museums, archives, and historic sites, as well as to find work on preservation grants and with historical societies, among other things. Our professors are also intimately associated with the public history program and students are able to benefit from diverse classes and faculty expertise, ranging from memory, to the material world, to preservation, to commemoration, to cultural resources management, to public policy, to museums, to archives, to collections management, to oral history, to local history, and more. Put differently, our faculty members here at SFA are as diverse as the students they work with and are well qualified and eager to serve.
Public History Training
Stephen F. Austin State University's Public History Program strives to train students as historians - historians who deal with a passionate, engaged, and extremely diverse public audience. We offer broad training for practicing, presenting, and preserving history outside the traditional university or classroom setting. Students are trained in historical methods, with an emphasis on delivering historical scholarship in a variety of forms. Besides the many unique courses offered in the public history program, students are also trained in courses designed to enhance their history skills and knowledge, such as historiography and seminars. Students trained in public history often find jobs in such varying fields as archives and libraries, government agencies, National Parks, historic houses, living history sites, corporate consulting and history, historic preservation, urban planning, cultural resources management, museums, historical societies, documentary editing and film, and journalism, among others.
Hello. By way of introduction, our names are Perky Beisel and Paul J. P. Sandul, Associate and Assistant Professors of history at Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) in Nacogdoches, Texas, respectively, and co-directors of the University's public history program. In 2011 we attended the National Council on Public History's Annual Conference in Pensacola. After that meeting we began to discuss the feasability of creating a Texas Public History organization. We had a positive informational meeting in September 2011 at the East Texas Historical Association Meeting where we learned there was widespread support. Over the course of the next year we met with Dan Utley and other public historians in the state and then reported our findings at the 2012 ETHA fall meeting. We have now created a slate of officers, are in the process of revising the bylaws, and have begun a website (http://www.publichistorytexas.com/index.html). The organization's draft mission statement is as follows.
"The Public History Association of Texas is a consortium of history practitioners in the state of Texas who engage public audiences or work in history-related fields traditionally found outside of academia, from archives to consultation, cultural resource management, curation, interpretation, media, museums, oral history, policy advising, preservation, students and teachers, and many more. PHAT seeks to foster, facilitate, and coordinate efforts that enhance the preservation, interpretation, presentation, and management of Texas' unique heritage. It is an effective networking organization for all of Texas' public history practitioners, providing a forum for contact and discussion, mutual support, and the sharing of knowledge and resources. To support the promotion of Texas' history, PHAT's key programs and services include professional opportunities, including an annual conference; and a newsletter, including an active monitoring of legislation, keeping members informed and involved, information on relevant state and national news, and fostering cooperative action among Texas' history, heritage, and like organizations."
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