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Public History

What is Public History? Public History is a form of public service. Public historians help create historical understanding by sharing authority and inquiry with a variety of partners, including audiences, museum professionals, preservationists, business leaders and others. Public historians are trained, first and foremost, as historians –to conduct research, to craft interpretations and to write well. However, public historians must also be prepared to work collaboratively with partners for whom an understanding of history can have immediate practical implications. Public historians produce original interpretations that build bridges between scholarship and everyday life by respecting the ways in which their partners and audiences use history, and by balancing professional authority against community needs.

 The Public History Track is an option for students pursuing the Master of Arts in Historical Studies. Our faculty recognizes that dynamic collaborations can produce innovative and relevant historical scholarship. Graduate students in the public history track participate in unique research projects that address needs identified by a variety of non-profit organizations, government entities and community groups. Faculty and students work with community based partners to create insightful historical narratives that advance understanding of the past and enable problem solving in the present by raising important questions about history, identity, place, and power. The public history track provides opportunities for public history students to build a professional portfolio, develop a network of professional contacts, and acquire specialized experience in the field. The graduate track offers voluntary pathways to specialization in Public History for the Museum Profession and Public History for the Field of Preservation. The track also includes opportunities for students to develop digital skills.

The program of study for students in the M.A. in Historical Studies seeking the Public History Track certificate includes the following (click here for graduate catalog and course descriptions):


HIST 701 Introduction to the Study of History [3 credits]

HIST 702 Historiography [3 credits]

HIST 705 Introduction to Public History [3 credits]

HIST 790 Internship [3 credits]


In addition to a wide selection of geographical and topical courses, students may choose from the following public history specialty courses:

HIST 614:  Preservation [3 credits]

HIST 618: The American House  [3 credits]

HIST 626: Material Culture [3 credits]

HIST 627: Digital Public History [3 credits]

HIST 629: History of Baltimore [3 credits]

HIST 711: Public History Practices [3 credits]

HIST 736: Oral History [3 credits]

For more information, contact the Director of Public History:

Dr. Denise Meringolo, Director PHT