What to Do with a BA in History

annual-meeting

Historians of the Future: An Undergraduate at the Annual Meeting

By James Rick

While attending a panel on “the Culture Wars” in American history at the 2016 annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Atlanta, I was struck by something a fellow attendee said. As someone interested in cultural history, his comment, which concerned the influence of anthropological conceptions of culture on the way historians understand and employ the concept, felt important and worth wrestling with to me. I am now a graduate student, and this question, along with others that I encountered at the annual meeting, has stuck with me and often come up in the courses I am now taking.

double-major-2

History, Economics, and Food: A Case for Interdisciplinary Education

By Rachel Snyder

Applying for college is stressful enough without having to pick a major. That is why after writing a personal statement, answering philosophical questions in less than 500 words, and providing character references, I wasn’t ready to click a box declaring my plan of study for the next four plus years. The decision seemed binding and final—I clicked “undecided.”

November 21, 2016
L0035431 A 19th century stethoscope witha bell-shaped end
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org
A 19th century stethoscope with a bell-shaped end and a flexable tubing for both ears. Made by Scott Alison
Photograph
c. 1858 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Thinking Like a Historian in Scrubs: How I Use My BA in History

By David Glenn

Twenty seven years ago, I was a newly declared sophomore history major. I’d fallen hard for labor history. I wanted to study the American workplace as a site of both solidarity and alienation, a place where people can sometimes break free of the chains of class, caste, and gender, while at the same time falling prey to other kinds of oppression. I wanted to write books like Christine Stansell’s City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789–1860 (1986) or Walter Licht’s Working for the Railroad: The Organization of Work in the Nineteenth Century (1983).

"Clio" by Hendrik Goltzius, 1558-1617, currently held by the Los Angeles County Art Museum.  Clio is the muse of history.

Changing Course: The Flexibility of a History Degree

By Kamarin Takahara

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Because I spent most of my time surrounded by teachers, I answered this question when I was young with: “Well, I want to be a teacher.” As I grew up and experienced new things, however, that question took on a greater significance.

The seeming irrevocability of the answer scared me—like in a final exam, you make a choice, turn it in, and because you can never change the answer, you are stuck with your decision forever.

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "Donnell Library. Leady reading in lobby." New York Public Library Digital Collections.

How A Major in History Gives You the Intangible Edge

By Jacob Anbinder

It’s no secret that many departments use job prospects to lure undergraduates trying to pick a major. History departments in particular tend to tout their alumni’s diverse array of career paths in an attempt to answer the inevitable question: “But what will you do with that?” Among college majors, it seems, history is considered just “useful” enough to have to justify itself, but not so useful that students would flock to it anyway. Studying history, however, gives graduates tremendous flexibility in the job market.