The AHA’s “Where Historians Work” is an ambitious research project designed to track the career outcomes of everyone who earned a PhD in history from 2004–13 in the United States. Last year, we launched a beta version of “Where Historians Work” showing initial results from 34 PhD programs. Since then, we have gathered information on the remaining 127 PhD programs, locating some 8,000 individuals using publicly available information. We are now in a position to truly understand the national landscape of employment for history PhDs.
By Misha Appeltova, Zach Nacev, and Gregory Valdespino
We stopped in front of a painting portraying a group of villagers by a river. “What do you see?” asked Elsie Hector Hernandez, owner and director of the Haitian American Museum of Chicago (HAMOC). One of us answered that there were villagers doing laundry, washing themselves, collecting water for households, getting their animals to drink. There were no roads, no cars, no concrete buildings. Traditional Haitian culture centered around a river? Lack of infrastructure due to the poverty of a state caused by international and domestic politics?
By Matthew Reeves
When I arrived at the headquarters of the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club it was like landing on another planet. Gone were the cinderblock walls, linoleum flooring, and flickering fluorescents of campus; in their place was a plush, tastefully designed working space shared by coaches, executives, and current players. It was nearly impossible not to be star struck by celebrity athletes, especially in a city that adores its local team. It was immediately clear to me, however, that I, like everyone else in the building, was there to work.
By Kaete O’Connell
I arrived at my first AHA annual meeting layered in clothing and emotions. The expected trepidation (is there anything more overwhelming than stepping into a hotel literally buzzing with historians?), was coupled with curiosity and a smidge of excitement. I was attending as an observer, getting my feet wet for next year when I will be on the job market. To get the most out of a busy three days, I attended a variety of panels discussing everything from teaching methods to writing historical fiction.
The American Historical Association is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2018–20 Career Diversity Implementation Grants, part of the Career Diversity for Historians initiative. The recipients, selected from the 36 departments that participated in the 2017–18 Career Diversity Faculty Institutes, represent a broad range of institutions of varying size, location, and institutional cultures. Each has articulated a strong vision of how to integrate broad-based professional development into their department’s culture and doctoral curriculum.
By Ashton Merck
Think tanks, also known as research institutes, advocacy organizations, and policy centers, are often described as “universities without students.” These organizations run the gamut of political orientations, thematic focus, size, and scope, but most share a common emphasis on research and writing—two core features of doctoral programs in history. Thus, working at a think tank seems like a perfect example of the kind of career outside academia that forward-thinking institutions and professional associations, including the AHA, are increasingly encouraging history PhDs to pursue.
Through its work, the AHA has learned that popular wisdom severely underestimates the value and versatility of a history degree. As the seat of the federal government, home to a battery of museums and archives, nonprofits, colleges and universities, and K–12 schools, the District of Columbia showcases many of the career paths open to historians. At the 2018 AHA annual meeting, we are taking full advantage of the diverse local community of historians to offer a slate of professional development activities that is bigger and more varied than ever.
For the past 18 months, I have been supporting the ground-level research for Where Historians Work, AHA’s interactive database of cross-institutional data on history PhD job outcomes. After many long hours of finding, categorizing, and updating current employment information for thousands of historians, I can say with confidence that I am no longer surprised by any of their career choices. I’ve found sports coaches, movie producers, farmworkers, mechanical engineers, software developers, and many others working in fields where a history PhD is definitely not the prerequisite.