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 early March public history graduate student Kurt Terry will be presenting at the Texas State Historical Association meeting in Houston and in late March public history graduate student Hayley Hasik will be attending the Texas Oral History Association meeting in Lubbock. She is currently a board member of TOHA.

We do enjoy our fieldtrips - this spring, on Saturday, April 8, 2017 we will take up to 48 SFASU students enrolled in any history course to the Southern Forest Heritage Museum in Long Leaf, Louisiana. This former company sawmill town is largely intact and has numerous interpretive materials and lots of artifacts and buildings to explore.

In October 2016 we had five of them: (1) Caddo Mounds State Historic Site & Mission Tejas State Park, (2) San Augustine, TX - to see excellent 1830s and 1840s Greek Revival architecture, (3) Zion Hill Baptist Church - in the midst of a multi-year rehabilitation project, (4) Arcadia, Texas so tour restored vernacular architecture - aka dogtrots, and (5) a Saturday trip to Natchitoches and the Cane River Creole National Heritage Area via Keachi, Louisiana. Thanks to all the students who participated and made them fun and intellectually rewarding adventures. See the photographs below.

It is hot, dirty work but the graduate assistants are up to the task - even in the 100+ degree heat index! See pictures below from our "Nac 300 Event" cleanings at Oak Grove Cemetery on September 16, 2016 and our, happily, cooler event on October 28, 2016.

Highlighted Jobs/Internships

Smyrna Cemeteries Cleaning November 2016
2016 World Architecture and Historic Preservation Tours
Oak Grove Cemetery Cleanings Sept & Oct 2016
As part of the Nacogdoches Tri-Centennial Celebration, SFASU students, undergraduates in Dr. Beisel's US History Surveys and public history graduate students, joined volunteers from the public to help clean gravestones in the historic Oak Grove Cemetery.