New this fall is the Department of History’s new concentration in public history, which is designed for students to pursue experiences in museums, archives, and historical preservation.
Growing out of a long-standing and highly successful internship program with a variety of historical organizations in Memphis, the public history concentration allows students to combine a unique set of coursework with hands-on experiences to understand the practical and professional issues related to the study of the past in the public realm.
“Public history puts the work of historians out into the world,” says Prof. Jeffrey Jackson, history chair and director of the new concentration. “Through their work in museums, historical societies, archives, documentary filmmaking, and preservation, public historians are helping to make history accessible to a broad audience and creating conversations about the links between the past and the present.”
The concentration has been listed by the National Council on Public History as one among a growing number of public history programs across the United States. Its website also chronicles the growing job opportunities in this vibrant field.
Students enrolled in the concentration complete all the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in history but focus their attention on particular concerns of public historians. They complete a methodological course in conjunction with an internship at one of several community partners including, for example, the National Civil Rights Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Blues Foundation, Cotton Museum, or Memphis Public Library.
In addition, students complete another public history-related course or research project, or they participate in making a documentary film. They also undertake an additional experience that can range from the Archaeological Field School to an Archival Studies Fellowship at the Memphis Public Library to working as part of the digital history project related to the noted Memphis author Shelby Foote.