Public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.


Every historical marker by the roadside, every war memorial, every historical article in a magazine, every exhibition at a historical society is an act of public history.

  • How does public history differ from — but grow out of — academic history?
  • How can we communicate ideas about history effectively to a broad audience?
  • What is the purpose?

Look for these questions throughout the History department’s public history “threads.”

What is a thread?

A thread lets you knit together courses on a wide array of topics that share a common interest in the problems and techniques of public history. Lower key than a formal field, this is a purely optional way of pursuing public history that introduces you to an exciting range of issues, analysis, and assignments, all of which connect to the common theme.

Public History courses, 2020-2021:

HIST 116 Intro to Indigenous Histories, 1887-present (Meredith McCoy)
Many Americans grow up with a fictionalized view of Indigenous people (sometimes also called Native Americans/American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians within the U.S. context). Understanding Indigenous peoples’ histories, presents, and possible futures requires moving beyond these stereotypes and listening to Indigenous perspectives. In this class, we will begin to learn about Indigenous peoples across Turtle Island and the Pacific through tribal histories, legislation, Supreme Court cases, and personal narratives. The course will focus on the period from 1887 to 2018 with major themes including (among others) agency, resistance, resilience, settler colonialism, discrimination, and structural racism. Fall. Mode: Online.

HIST 200 Historians for Hire (Tony Adler)
A two-credit course in which students work with faculty oversight to complete a variety of public history projects with community partners. Students will work on a research project requiring them to identify and analyze primary sources, draw conclusions from the primary source research, and share their research with the appropriate audience in an appropriate form. We meet once a week at Carleton to ensure students maintain professional standards and strong relationships in their work. Potential projects include educational programming, historical society archival work, and a variety of local history opportunities. Fall, Winter, and Spring. Mode: Online.

Additional Academic Civic Engagement (ACE) courses can also be found here: ACE Course List

Public History / Digital Humanities Resources


Please contact Victoria Morse, Susannah Ottaway, or Serena Zabin.

Carleton students at the Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum in Norfolk, England
Carleton students at the Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum in Norfolk, England