By Philip Scarpino and Daniel Vivian
Although job prospects for public historians have improved with the passing of the Great Recession, questions about the overall health of the field remain. To address these concerns, a joint task force of the National Council on Public History, the American Association for State and Local History, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians is investigating how the current and future needs and expectations of employers of public historians match up with the training provided by public history programs. As an initial step, the task force has developed an online survey for public history employers. We urge AHA members to take the survey. The task force needs a large pool of responses for its efforts to succeed. Put simply, we need to hear from you.
Anyone involved in hiring public historians is eligible to take the survey. Respondents do not have to be responsible for final hiring decisions, only involved in evaluating applicants. Public history, for our purposes, encompasses the traditional fields of archives, museums, historical interpretation, historic preservation, and historical consulting as well as emerging areas of expertise such as digital media. If you think of someone as a public historian, whether or not they self-identify as one, they probably are.
The survey is available here.
Please take the survey at your earliest convenience and share it with friends and colleagues. The data collected will assist historical organizations in formulating policy, advocating for historical programs, and advising public history educators. The survey is an important part of a comprehensive effort to chart the current landscape of public history training and employment. For it to succeed, we need your participation and support. Please help us understand where public history is going. The results will benefit us all.
Philip Scarpino is professor of history and director of the graduate program in public history at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Daniel Vivian is an assistant professor of history and director of public history at the University of Louisville. They serve as co-chairs of the joint task force on public history employment and education.