Stephen F. Austin State University

Public History

Public History

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 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.

employment opportunities with public history degree

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. We are listed in the NCPH's Guide to Public History Programs. Here is the one-page pdf description of our program. In our academic program we strive to exceed the best practices as outlined by the National Council on Public History in its 2015 guide to public history education, the Public History Navigator.

In February 2017 we had a multiday visit from Van Zbinden, an archivist at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Zbinden has been at the archive for several years. Prior to that he worked for the Arkansas SHPO and the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources in Smackover, AR. He earned his MA from Middle Tennessee State University. The students are still talking about the great discussions and what they learned

Highlighted Jobs/Internships/Opportunities/Conferences

Congratulations to Our Public History Students in Spring and Summer 2017

Congratulations to Kendall Gay who successfully defended her MA in Public History capstone project, "Design Plan for the Sawmill Town History Wing Exhibit at the Texas Forestry Museum," on July 28, 2017.

Congratulations to undergraduate students Christina Tellez and Laura Goodman who completed internships at the Pasadena [TX] Heritage Park and Museum and the East Texas Research Center during Summer I 2017.

Congratulations to Shelby Winthrop who is in an internship with the William J. Clinton National Archives in Little Rock, AR in Summer II 2017.

Congratulations to Jennifer Kellum who is in an internship with the McFaddin-Ward House in Beaumont, Texas for summer 2017! This is a competitive, paid position at a highly regarded historic house museum.

Congratulations to our upcoming public history M.A. graduates on their acceptance into doctoral programs. Hayley Hasik has accepted an offer to matriculate at Southern Mississippi University while Kurt Terry has accepted an offer from Oklahoma State University. Hasik and Terry will defend their thesis capstone projects in late April 2017.

Congratulations to Conor Herterich who is spending two months of summer 2017 in Alaska as a member of HistoriCorps. Herterich will help reconstruct an Adirondack style CCC cabin and aid in the rehabilitation of Forest Service cabins. In the fall he will complete resume work on his thesis - a set of design guidelines for the City of Gladewater, Texas. Here's a link to a July 1, 2017 article about the project from the Ketchikan Daily News (btw, we don't have dry southwestern heat here either....)

Congratulations to Jennifer Kellum and Hayley Hasik who both received funding from the Dean of the College of Liberal and Applied Arts to present at the National Council on Public History and the Southwest Popular / American Culture Association's respective annual meetings in Spring 2017.