History 705: Introduction to Public History
Spring 2005

Professor Terry Bouton
Phone: 410-455-2056
E-MAIL: bouton[at]umbc.edu
Office: 722 Administration Bldg.
Office Hours: Wed. 4-6, Thurs. 3-5 and by appointment

(It is always best to call--or better yet email--before you plan to come to office hours so I can block out time for you.  I typically schedule meetings with students and advisees during office hours, so it's best to call ahead to make certain I'm available to meet with you at the time you plan to arrive.)

Course Description:
History 705 is part of the graduate program’s public history track—but enrollment is open to all history graduate students.  I teach HIST 705 as a practical introduction to non-academic careers in history: work in museums, archives, documentary film, historic preservation, freelance historical research, historical editing, etc, etc.  We’ll spend several weeks reading about careers in public history and learning about the various issues, tensions, and controversies that people in the field have to deal with.  Students will visit an historical site in the area and write a review.  They will also evaluate a public history website.  The heart of the course, however, will be an array of guest speakers.  By bringing into class people who work in the field, I try to provide students the opportunity to meet with and pose questions to experts in various kinds of public history.  These speakers will give a sense of the varieties of public history, the day-to-day aspects of work in their particular field, the skills and challenges involved, how one gets started in the field, the qualifications and experiences one needs to get a job, and the career paths people tend follow.  I have also designed the course to give students some on-the-job experience in public history through a mini-internship (the equivalent of about 3 hours per week during the semester). 


The following are available for purchase at the campus bookstore.  If you're shopping for used copies, you may be able to save some money by purchasing from www.half.com or www.bookfinder.com.

James B. Gardner and Peter S. LaPaglia, eds., Public History: Essays from the Field
Richard Handler, Eric Gable, The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg
James W. Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong

Your grade for the course will be based on a 500-point scale.  The specific elements are as follows:

Internship/Project/Paper (200 points)
Each student will complete a semester-long internship of about three-hours per week designed to give them hands-on experience in some sub-field of public history.  At the end of the semester, they will submit paper and a "project" based on their internship.  The points for this part of the class breaks down as follows

1) Internship (50 points): Everyone will complete a three-hour per week mini-internship working at a local historical institution.  In the past, students have worked at such internships as processing archival collections, developing educational tours, designing websites for history sites, researching historical artifacts, writing copy for historical exhibits, conducting oral histories, and working as a production assistant on a documentary film.  I will set up the internships and work in coordination with your direct supervisor at that institution.  Your grade here will be based on the progress reports I receive from your supervisor and their end-of-internship evaluation of your work.  You should treat the internship like a job (or like an extended job interview).  The goal here is to give you some exposure to institutions in the field of public history, to get you some relevant experience to see if you are interested in this kind of work, and, if you plan to continue in the field, to help you get started on building your resume.

2) Project (50 points):  The project is some representation of the public history "product" that your internship produces.  The forms of the project will vary greatly, depending on the nature of your internship.  It may be a collection finding aid, the text you wrote for the artifact labels in a museum exhibition, the transcript of an oral history you conducted, or an educational tour or activity you planned for school groups visiting a museum or historical site, a website for a historical site that you helped design.  Undoubtedly, some of you will develop "products" that are less tangible and more difficult to submit.  I will deal with each project on a case by case basis and you will not be at any disadvantage if your project happens to be more elusive.

3) Paper (100 points): The paper should be a narrative of at least ten pages that describes your experience in your internship. The paper should provide a brief description of what you did during your internship.  The bulk of the paper, however, should be a reflection on what your experience taught you about the field of public history in general and the practice of public history as the organization you worked for in particular. I want to know what you liked and found inspiring about the field as well as what you found discouraging.  I would also like you to assess the institution and people you worked for: What did they do well? Where do they need to improve? How would you change things if you ran the organization? 

Historical Site Evaluation: (50 Points)
Each student will complete a seven to ten page review of a historical site in the Baltimore/D.C. area.  I will provide a list of possible historical sites and guidelines for the paper. Your paper should be guided by a thesis--a single argument about the site that the rest of the paper works to develop. Your observations from the site serve as the proof for your argument.  Your Evaluation should be seven to ten double-spaced pages in length. Your evaluations should analyze the "history" that is presented at the site.  I do not want you to write a descriptive walk through of the museum. Instead I want you to evaluate the museum's presentation of history.  Did the site present history effectively?  Did it place the topic and sub-topics in their historical context?  What historical interpretations did the site present?  Did that interpretation seem to be informed by the work of academic historians? What audience was the site trying to reach?  How well do you think the exhibit was geared toward that audience?  What parts of the presentation did you find effective?  What was ineffective or needed improvement?  What would you do to improve the exhibit? 

Website Evaluation: (50 points)
Each student will complete a seven to ten page review of a historical website.  I will provide a list of possible websites and guidelines for the paper. Your paper should evaluate the site taking into consideration such things as the website's objectives, its audience, potential uses, and overall presentation.  While you are free to comment of the quality of the technology, your main goal should be to assess the website's content and its presentation of history.  You should decide whether the website offers an effective medium of "public history" and what makes it an effective or ineffective website.  You should conclude with suggestions for improving the website.

Blackboard Discussion: (100 points, 10 points each)
Each week students will post a response to that week's readings and/or assignments to the course Blackboard discussion board.  Postings need to be made by 2PM on the Tuesday we discuss that particular topic.  Each posting should respond to the question or assignment listed after the headings labeled "Blackboard" on the schedule below.  I will grade postings on a ten-point scale based on the quantity and quality of your response.  Your posting should use specific examples and quotes from the readings and/or websites to demonstrate your points.  Make sure you proofread your posts before you submit them!  Be careful about posting on Blackboard: sometimes a mis-click or a technical glitch can wipe out your posting.  I highly recommend writing and editing your posts using a word processing program and then cutting and pasting into Blackboard.

Getting started on Blackboard: Blackboard is relatively easy to use and will allow you to have access to course materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Internet.  If you have registered for the course, you should automatically be registered on Blackboard. As a UMBC student, you have a personal email account and access to the Internet and through the school's many on-campus computer labs.  You can also access Blackboard off campus through a personal account or from the UMBC dial-up.  BEFORE you do anything else, check to see if you are enrolled in the course by going to http://blackboard.umbc.edu.  If you have been automatically registered, take some time to explore the Blackboard site for the course.  If Blackboard indicates that you are not registered, follow the directions at the main Blackboard site for new users.

Participation: (100 points)
In large part, the success of this course will depend on everyone's active participation in classroom discussion.  Your participation grade will depend on regular class attendance and contributions to discussions.  Your grade will also be based on three brief in-class presentations: one for the historical site or museum you visit, one on the historical website you review, and a final presentation based on your semester-long project (the most formal presentation of the three).  For each presentation, be sure to have a clear sense of what you are trying to do, be aware of time (you will have a limited amount of time to make your presentation, make the most of it), and try your best to make your presentation engaging for others (after all the goal of public history is to get the non-specialists interested in history.  You can start your attempts to capture the public's interest by making a captivating presentation).

The 100 points for the participation grade breaks down as follows:
    General Participation (50 points)
    Historical Site Presentation (25 points)
    Website Presentation (25 points)
    Internship Presentation (50 points)

At the end of the semester:  
450-500 points will be an A
400-449 points will be a B
350-399 points will be a C
300-349 points will be a D
Below 300 points will be an F

I will send all email messages to your UMBC email account
(yourusername@umbc.edu). If you do not usually check this account, have messages forwarded to your preferred email address (such as aol, hotmail, etc.). For help with this procedure, or if you have other questions about UMBC's Office of Information Technology services visit the OIT helpsite at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/. Helpdesk personnel in the on-campus computer labs can help with most questions. The helpdesk phone number is 410-455-3838.

Academic Integrity:
By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC's scholarly community in which everyone's academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong.  Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal.  To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory. To read the policy online, see: http://www.umbc.edu/integrity/.

I expect graduate students to know and understand what plagiarism is and to refuse to engage in it.  If I catch anyone plagiarizing material or otherwise cheating or submitting false material, I will ensure that the Graduate School prosecutes you to the fullest extent possible.  I recently had a graduate student expelled for plagiarism.  Although I hope this will be the last time I encounter such behavior, you should know that if should you decide to cheat I will probably catch you and I will push for you to be expelled from the program. 

Weekly Class Schedule

Class Schedule:

February 1:       Introduction: What is Public History?

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, pgs. 3-40 and Chapter from Michael Wallace, Mickey Mouse History on the history of public history

February 8:       Varieties of Public History:

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, ten essays from part II and III.  You select the essays based on your interests.

Blackboard: What kinds of public history most interest you? Which do you find least compelling? Explain your answers using examples from Public History.

February 15:    Discussion: The New Social History at Colonial Williamsburg

•Reading: Handler and Gable, The New History in an Old Museum, ALL

Blackboard: What tensions arose as a result of Colonial Williamsburg's attempts to integrate the new social history into its program? How successfully do you think Colonial Williamsburg handled the transformation? How well do you think Handler and Gable handled their analysis of the Colonial Williamsburg?

February 22:    Discussion: History and Memory at American Historical Sites

•Reading: Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, ALL

Blackboard: What does Loewen find wrong with historic sites in America?  What seem to be the most common issues? What seems to shape the particular messages that different historical sites project to the public?

March 1:           Museums and Museum Curators

Guest Speakers: Ed Williams, Deputy Director & Chief Curator; and Dave Shackelford, Senior Curator of Small Objects/Library/Archives, both from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History,
•Other Reading: TBA

Blackboard: TBA and Develop three questions for guest speaker.

March  8:         Archives and Libraries (MEET AT SPECIAL COLLECTIONS IN THE LIBRARY)

Guest Speaker: Marci Peri, Archivist, Special Collections, Kuhn Library, UMBC

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, "Archivists and Records Managers," 57-74
•Other Reading: TBA

Blackboard: TBA and Develop three questions for guest speaker.

March 15:        History on Film and Television:

Guest Speaker: Ron Simon, Associate Producer, Team Productions, Washington DC

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, "Film and Media Producers: Taking History Off the Page and Putting it on the Screen," pgs. 117-128

•Video to view before class: JFK: A Presidency Revealed (or part of the new FDR documentary) (2003 History Channel documentary by David Taylor)

Blackboard: Review JFK: A Presidency Revealed (OR part of the New FDR documentary)

March 22:       SPRING BREAK

March 29:        For-Profit/Contract History

Guest Speaker: James H. Lide, Director, International Division, History Associates Incorporated

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, "Contract Historians and Consultants," 75-86
The Best Company in History (on HAI's website; I will distribute a copy on CD-Rom)
•Website:  http://www.historyassociates.com/

Blackboard: Review of History Associates Inc. website and The Best Company in History.  Develop three questions for guest speaker.

April 5:       Museum and Historical Site Reviews 

April 12:             Oral History

Guest Speaker: Barry Lanman, Director, Martha Ross Center for Oral History, UMBC

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, "Oral Historians: Community Oral History and the Cooperative Ideal," 203-216
•Website: Explore the Martha Ross Center for Oral History website, investigate some of the links under "Internet Resources," and read the Evaluation Guidelines of the Oral History Association

Blackboard: Review Martha Ross website and Evaluation Guidelines.  Develop three questions for guest speaker.

April 19:          Website Reviews

May 3:           Historical Preservation, History and the Government, and Resume Workshop

Guest Speaker: Glenn Williams, Historian (Planner), American Battlefield Protection Program, National Park Service (and UMBC Public History Track Alum)

•Reading: Gardner and LaPaglia, Public History, "Historic Preservationists and Cultural Resource Managers: Preserving America's Historic Places," 129-139
•Reading: Read an issue of History News (publication of the American Association of State and Local History) or Preservation (publication of the National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Blackboard: Review of History News or Preservation. Develop three questions for guest speaker.

May 10:         Internship Presentations

May 17:         Internship Presentations



Public History Resource Center:  http://www.publichistory.org/index.asp