Public History

Public history is history presented or practiced outside the classroom - in museums, monuments, historic sites, battlefields, archives, digital history and film. As a public history minor, you will learn the theory, methods, practice, and controversies of public history in its various dimensions.

Students take an introductory course and can then choose from a variety of courses counting for public history credit, including "The Museum: Theory and Practice," "Oral History," "Representing America: United States History in Film" and "Race in American Memory." Students also complete a public history internship at an approved site of their choosing. Students have interned at such places as the New York State Museum, U.S.S Slater (the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum), Adirondack Museum and Hancock Shaker Village.

In addition, the department of history offers two mini-terms that focus on public history. The Civil Rights Public History mini-term takes students on a tour of the sites of major civil rights actions in the south. The mini-term begins in Charleston, S.C., with visits to a slave mart, a slave port and plantations with slave cabins. The next two weeks are spent traveling to the sites of major civil rights actions and meeting with civil rights veterans. The tour ends in New Orleans, celebrating African-American culture while considering the enormous successes and persistent limits of the civil rights movement.

The South Africa mini-term explores a number of historical and natural sites, including Kruger National Park, Robben Island Prison (where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison) and Soweto Township. Students learn about the way South Africans, both white and black, remember their history under Apartheid.