Public History Placement for the Undergraduate History Student

By Valla McLean, Tim O’Grady, Carolee Pollock, Allan Rowe

As part of MacEwan University’s Public History offerings, the Field Placement course provides undergraduate students with a distinctive learning experience and offers local public history partners significant benefits. This successful course is built on four pillars: meaningful work, structured learning, an opportunity for networking, and an emphasis on the importance of the broader historical context in local public history work. Benefits for community partners include both short and long-term capacity-building, the completion of projects and the pleasure of working with enthusiastic young people. This program aligns with the university’s commitments to engage with its local community, and to provide students with a meaningful university experience. It introduces them to the professional world and possible careers. Students report great satisfaction with their placements.

Historians have long emphasized the importance of experiential learning in public history education and training. Whether the specific model involves internships, work placements or community-based projects, most note strong benefits to getting public history students ‘out of the classroom as soon as possible.’[1] Experiential learning introduces students to potential career paths in public history and allows them to test their competencies and develop essential skills in a professional environment before they enter a highly competitive job market.[2] Public historians have also pointed to the pedagogical benefits of experiential learning, which often asks students to interrogate issues of scholarly authority, privilege and representation as they collaborate with community partners who take an active role in project development and completion.[3] Public historians have additionally noted that experiential learning programs help build important connections between academic institutions and the broader community, raising the visibility of history departments at a time of declining enrolment.[4] Such collaborations also ‘strength[en] the local public history community’ by connecting enthusiastic young scholars with local history organizations that are often underfunded and overworked.[5] In short, public history programs that incorporate experiential learning offer crucial benefits to students, academic departments and community stakeholders.

While the widest range of public history programs are offered at the graduate level, public historians have also long recognized the value of introducing undergraduate students to opportunities for experiential learning. A review of the eleven post-secondary institutions offering public history classes for undergraduates across Canada: University of Alberta, Brandon University, Acadia University, Huron University College, King’s University College, Western University, Lakehead University, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier, York University and Concordia University reveals 63% offer opportunities for practical experience.

By the mid-1970s, for example, the University of Northern Iowa had introduced public internships for history majors.[6] Welch argued that elements of public history should be introduced into entry-level survey classes and that universities should ‘provide at least limited experiences in history fieldwork’ to undergraduates, including first-year students.[7] Bingmann and Coles and Welch note that ‘practical experience in the field’ and ‘first-hand learning opportunities’ were essential to undergraduates seeking work outside of the academy after graduation.[8] Beyond the possible career relevance, experiential learning also aligns with the broader goals of undergraduate liberal arts education. As Belanger persuasively argues, public history outreach ‘fosters cross-disciplinary learning outcomes’ and encourages students to reflect critically on ‘the importance of history to contemporary citizenship.’[9] The value of public history, and in particular experiential learning, thus goes well beyond vocational training – it contributes to greater appreciation for the value of heritage conservation and education, even among those who do not pursue a career path in public history.

As a single course, MacEwan University’s Field Placement course cannot prepare students to be public historians, it is not an internship where students who have completed professional training begin to put their historical skills into practice. Nor is it service learning, with the emphasis on bridging the gap between students at elite institutions and local communities. Instead, field placement offers students a taste of real-world historical practice. It introduces them to career possibilities that they may never have encountered. It demonstrates the uses of historical thinking in real-world professional situations and it introduces them to professionals in the field.

The Public History Course

Limiting our definition of public history to that branch of historical work that involves presenting history to the public or working with the public to conduct research and interpret the past, this senior seminar-style course introduces students to theories about public history and issues/controversies in the field, including ideas about memory and representation, heritage and history, and preservation and interpretation.[10] It also examines common sources for public history, including material culture, archives, and oral interviews and explores some of the opportunities available in the field of public history. A three-hour class block allows us to visit several local historic sites and museums over the course of the thirteen-week semester. At each site, students are encouraged to think about the interpretation offered, about the intended audience and how the interpretation fits into the site’s mission. At the Historical Resources Management Branch, Allan Rowe introduces the students to other practitioners in the branch, including researchers, preservation technologists and Indigenous heritage specialists. Students also visit the City of Edmonton Archives where Tim O’Grady introduces them to archival work with a behind-the-scenes tour and a discussion on what gets saved in archives, how and by whom and the implications for historians and the public. Guest speakers round out the course, introducing students to other professionals in the field.

Rather than the usual research papers in history courses, students do more practical, hands-on assignments.[11] The first is a review of an historic site or museum, where they are asked to think like public historians rather than museum visitors. Building on the visits that the class has undertaken, they apply the same considerations about interpretation and audience to this site or museum. The second assignment requires them to interview a public historian of their choice, either one that they have met through our site visits or another one they have identified.[12] Students must submit possible questions for review in advance of the interview and write a report on what they learned from the interview about becoming and being a public historian. Finally, students must complete a final project on a real historical Edmonton event, site, or person to be commemorated. After researching their subject using both primary and secondary sources, and writing a short essay on it, they must devise a method of presenting this subject to the public. Alternatives include creating a mockup of a commemorative plaque (including photographs and exactly 150 words of text), a 5-minute digital story, a post for a local blog on Edmonton’s history, a proposal for an exhibit for the City of Edmonton Archives display case or a virtual exhibit or an exhibit in our Humanities department display case. The semester concludes with a lunch where students present their various projects to their classmates.

The goals of the course include introducing students to the differences between academic and public history and to the issues related to handling controversial topics in public history. We also want them to be introduced to public history careers and the preparation needed to engage in them. While not all the students who take this course will go on to become public historians, communicating a topic to the public[13] and looking at the historic sites and museums from the perspective of the historian should make them more thoughtful visitors and supporters.

Field Placement

MacEwan University offers senior undergraduate students a placement course in which they complete 60 hours of work in a public history setting under the joint supervision of community partners and a MacEwan faculty member. It combines service to local public history partners with an enhanced learning opportunity for students. The academic component of the course includes seminars discussing scholarly literature, as well as structured reflection on their placement experience.[14] In four iterations twenty-nine students have participated, contributing over 1,740 hours of work to projects in public history.[15]

The Major Partners

Of the twenty-nine placements, the majority have been with the Historic Resources Management Branch (twelve students) and the City of Edmonton Archives (eleven students). Two students also worked with Valla McLean in MacEwan University’s own archives. The Historic Resources Management Branch is part of the Heritage Division of Alberta Culture and Tourism. Empowered by the Historical Resources Act, the Branch is responsible for managing the protection, preservation, study, and interpretation of historic resources for the benefit of all Albertans. The Branch is distinct from the Royal Alberta Museum, the Provincial Archives of Alberta, and the province’s other historic sites and museums that manage archival and artifact collections. Instead, the Branch regulates and protects in situ historic resources such as archaeological and paleontological sites, Indigenous traditional use sites, and historic structures. To date, all of MacEwan’s student placements have been with the Historic Places Stewardship Section, which is responsible for the research, designation, protection, and regulation of Provincial Historic Resources (primarily but not exclusively built structures). The section is also responsible for the Alberta Heritage Markers Program, which develops and installs interpretive signage along roads and trails that promotes awareness of provincially-significant people, events, and themes in Alberta’s history. Since the Branch’s collaboration with MacEwan University began in 2014, student work has focused on contextual research, historic resource designation, and heritage marker development.

The City of Edmonton Archives is a municipal archives, with six permanent staff, and nearly 8,000 linear metres of archival records, including textual material, photographs, architectural drawings, maps, and audio visual material. The mandate of the City of Edmonton Archives is to acquire, preserve, and provide access to records of permanent legal, administrative and historical value: of the Corporation, of City officials, and of City sponsored organizations and events, as well as the records of historically significant organizations and individuals in Edmonton. As archivists, they are often asked to take on a role of bringing history to the public through outreach initiatives such as blogs, articles, tours, and exhibitions.

The City of Edmonton Archives also works closely with other heritage organizations. For example, the City Archivist acts as a liaison with many of the museums in Edmonton which operate out of City-owned buildings, including the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum and Archives, the Telephone Historical Centre, and the Alberta Aviation Museum. The City Archivist also supervises the Edmonton Artifacts Centre, which provides collections management and conservation support for the historical artifacts at Fort Edmonton Park and John Walter Museum. The Archives is also tasked with providing support to the Edmonton Historical Board, a volunteer board whose mission is to encourage, promote, and advocate for the preservation and safeguarding of properties, resources, communities and documentary heritage and which advises City Council on matters relating to historical issues in Edmonton.

Since the Archives’ collaboration with MacEwan University began in 2015, student work has included research and interpretation for the Edmonton Historical Board, Fort Edmonton Park, and the Archives, as well as processing and describing material for the Archives and the Alberta Aviation Museum.

Principles for Success

The placement program is built on four pillars to ensure the best possible outcomes for all involved. These tenets include meaningful work, the opportunity for mentorship and networking, and teaching students in a tangible way the relevance of their education in history.

Meaningful Work

Placements must give students the opportunity to do meaningful work. We try to create projects for which the student can take personal responsibility, rather than just having them assist with ongoing tasks. Ideally, the projects will at once meet the goals of the host institution and give the students specific, practical experience. Students’ tasks should help fulfill organizational goals, and students need to be told exactly how their work benefits the host organization. Understanding the broader context of why they are doing the work motivates students beyond simply earning credit for the course. Tailoring work to the students’ strengths and interests increases both their engagement and their competence, resulting in better outcomes and more positive feelings about the placement. Challenging assignments which are within the student’s ability produce the best outcomes for students in terms of experience, and also for community partners. Robert Weyeneth and Daniel Vivian have stated that upon leaving school many students ‘lack familiarity with basic business practices, with technical writing, with working as a member of a team, with imagining creating ways to meet client demands.’[16] Our program emphasizes hands-on training as a means of introducing students to some of the requirements of working in the public history field, including writing technical documents (such as statements of significance and archival finding aids), as well as teamwork. Furthermore, for some participants the placement serves as their first opportunity to work in a professional environment.


The Placement Program takes students out of the classroom and makes the host organization the site of learning. Given that most undergraduate students don’t arrive at their placement with public history-specific skills, mentorship is a key component of the program. For the placement to be successful, community partners must provide close supervision to help students develop technical skills and competencies. Most students will have multiple deliverables over the course of their placement, and these should be structured so they build on themselves: as competencies increase, so should the complexity of the project. Partners should take an active role in imparting knowledge to the students though onboarding; tours; explanations of the organizational structure and its implications for the work; procedures and rationale related to the work; and the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and its similarities and difference to other organizations. Partnering with outside organizations and providing access to professionals practicing in the field are significant strengths of the placement program.[17]


The placement is an opportunity for students to meet public history professionals. These contacts will give them an idea of the kinds of positions in the field as well as the varied qualifications that public historians bring to their work. Both MacEwan faculty and supervisors at partner institutions try to make these connections for the students, introducing them to colleagues in the workplace. Informational interviewing and short stints at job shadowing are valuable experiences, not only for students who hope to work in the sector in the future, but for anyone interested in different perspectives on heritage issues or the professional workplace. Making contacts also gives students the possibility of a professional relationship that transcends the end of the placement. In the few short years the placement has operated several former students have made use of the contacts they developed for academic references, contract work, and career guidance.


The student placement offers students the opportunity to better understand the relevance of their academic learning. Students arrive at their placement with a solid introduction to theory and historiography and learn how that academic background informs the daily work of public historians. Assigned projects illustrate the need for the broader historical context to inform the project at hand – to bridge the academic and public history worlds. This serves as an opportunity to advise undergraduates on what Public History is and what jobs exist so that they are better able to make decisions about their future academic and professional path.[18]

Placement Planning

Recruiting community partners willing to supervise a student or students in a placement and discussing possible projects that students could undertake are the first steps. Prior to the placement semester, a MacEwan faculty member meets with staff at the partner organization to reaffirm their commitment to the program, discuss the number of students that can be accommodated, and provide ideas for student projects. Often, it is necessary to pare down possible projects to something that can be accomplished in the 60 hours allotted.

The next step is to recruit student participants, which is done in fall semester by class announcements, email, and other methods. As former participants have spread the word about the placement course, students are now approaching faculty to seek entrance into the class. Registration is by application – MacEwan University does not want to send students into the community who are unprepared or who will damage the program’s reputation. Qualified students are matched with community partners and projects, according to their interests and backgrounds, as much as possible. This means that sometimes no suitable student is available for a specific partner or project. The third-year Public History course is offered alternate years, but thus far it has not been used as a prerequisite for the placement. However, as the program develops this may become a reality.

Project Selection

Projects are designed to give students useful and practical experience. Crucially, projects are also designed to illustrate to students the central importance of academic research in the public history field. All projects for the Historic Resources Management Branch require students to undertake both primary and secondary source research and each one offers a unique challenge that draws upon their academic background. Context papers ask students to situate a particular historic resource within a larger historic context and explain how that building reflects larger themes and issues in Alberta’s history. Statements of Significance are precise regulatory documents that offer students the challenge of articulating a building’s heritage value and defining what elements need to be protected to ensure the preservation of its integrity. Heritage markers offer the particular challenge of communicating the overall significance of a person or event into 270 words of interpretive text and a small number of photographs. The heritage marker assignment also allows students the opportunity to learn how heritage interpretation, like historiography, evolves over time and reflects larger social and cultural trends. Issues such as voice, audience, and contested history are ripe for exploration with these assignments. Part of the assignment asks students to review older versions of their assigned heritage marker to analyze how both popular and academic understanding of that topic has evolved over time. Based on student feedback, the heritage marker assignment is at once the most challenging and most rewarding assignment during their time at the Branch.

Projects supervised by the City of Edmonton Archives are equally diverse. One student prepared an exhibition on Edmonton’s first funicular railway for the City of Edmonton Archives. Two others researched and wrote speaking notes for a tour of a historic hotel at Fort Edmonton Park, a local living history park as well as researching and writing the text for an interpretive panel on First World War flying ace and bush pilot Wop May and his historic airplane. This past year, two students at the City of Edmonton Archives created a genealogical finding aid, then processed records in the Town of Jasper Place fonds.

Students at the MacEwan University Archives processed the Dorothy Gray collection and the Instructional Media and Design fonds. Working on the Dorothy Gray collection involved rehousing primarily textual records in archival folders and boxes, creating an online finding aid based on archival standards and designing an exhibit for the library. The Instructional Media and Design fonds is a large and complex multimedia fonds. The primary task for the student was rehousing the numerous slides, negatives and photographs in proper enclosures and preparing a selection of the slides and negatives for cold storage. Two others produced a handbook on creating an archives for the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association. Other practicum students researched and wrote a history of the development of alternative schools by the Edmonton Public School Board. They interviewed officials involved in this process and the recordings have been added to the EPSB Archives’ collection. Participants have also processed and described photographs at the Alberta Aviation Museum and accessioned artifacts at the Telephone Historical Centre.

Placement Mechanics

The placement is a blend of academic learning and practical experience. In early January, students meet for small-group seminars to discuss assigned readings tailored to their project – for example, if several students are going to archival settings, the readings will be basic readings on archives while those who are going to work in museums will read some museum theory. These readings are often selected in consultation with the community partners. A portion of their course grade is assigned for class participation in these seminars.

It has proven beneficial for students to work in twos or threes. They can accomplish more work for the community partner for the same amount of time invested in supervision as a single participant, and they often find it useful to talk things over with their fellow students. Working together is sometimes challenging but that is part of the learning.

In the early weeks of the placement semester participants are invited to their host institution and provided limited onboarding, which may include a tour of the facility, an introduction to the staff, and an overview of the project and how it fits the organization’s mandate. A mutually acceptable work schedule is then determined. For some partners, this time is also used to discuss potential projects. The supervisor chooses the nature of the projects but offers a variety of topics to allow students to choose subjects of particular interest to them.

As work with community partners begins, students receive different amounts of supervision based on their project and the practices of their host institution. For example, students at the City of Edmonton Archives are supervised closely, with informal meetings every day the students are at the Archives. Alternately, students placed at the Historic Resources Management Branch work more independently but meet with the placement supervisor at the Branch once a week to discuss progress and provide mutual feedback in an informal workshop-style setting. Such meetings also provide opportunities for professional networking as students are brought into the Branch and introduced to different staff members. The MacEwan University Archives is small which allows the archivist and students to work near one another. Each shift begins with a discussion about relevant archival topics or an update on the project. Little supervision after that is needed although the archivist remains in her office in case questions arise.

Projects are broken into chunks so that students can be given feedback and grades two or three times during their placement. At the end of the second month, an interim report is provided to the students and the faculty supervisor, with grades and comments on how the work is progressing. Once the requisite hours are complete, final grades and comments are given by the community supervisors in consultation with the faculty supervisor. Some host institutions also give students a personalized letter describing what they did, what went well, and the significance of their work to the organization. Students are encouraged to keep the letter, as well as copies of the work they completed, in a professional portfolio that they can use in their future professional or academic career.

Students are required to post weekly journal entries (through online course management system Blackboard Learn) for the eyes of the faculty supervisor only. They are asked to comment on their impressions but also on how their experiences fit with (or do not fit with) their prior reading and expectations. These journals provide an opportunity for reflective practice, encouraging students to consider the theories they learned in their preparatory readings to the practical situations they are faced within their placement.[19]

A portion of the course grade is attached to the journal entries. These journal entries replace an earlier assignment of an end-of-term reflection paper which was sometimes found to be superficial because of its timing at a busy time for students. The reflection paper also failed to capture the evolving nature of their learning. A final class meeting allows the students the opportunity to present to their fellow placement students on their placement – what they did, what they learned, how they felt about it. This is also a form of reflection on the overall experience. A portion of the course grade is attached to this presentation so that they take it seriously and prepare for it. A final portion of the course grade is the community supervisor’s evaluation. This is an overall assessment of the student’s professionalism – attendance, punctuality, diligence and demeanor.

Finding Value

In reflection on the past five iterations of the field placement, and through discussions between faculty, community partners and past participants, several benefits of the program were identified.

For Public Historians

By introducing students to the world of public history, the placement program contributes to both short- and long-term capacity building. Students develop skills and competencies, albeit at a beginner level, that nonetheless represent a starting point on the path to a public history career. A positive experience in the student placement program may encourage some students to go further and pursue graduate work in museum studies, archival studies or heritage conservation.[20] It also generates more interest in museums, archives, and historical sites. Of course, not all placement students will go on to work in heritage – in fact most will not. But by exposing them to the realities of working in the heritage field, more people will understand what public historians do and why it is important. As one of our students said, ‘Throughout this placement, I was given the opportunity to learn just how important Public History is and the role it plays within communities and nations. In regards to preserving history, this placement helped me realize how important it is to include the public in the knowledge and preservation of the topics.’[21] Public history needs support in the community just as much as it needs future professionals. From the perspective of long-term capacity building, a student who chooses to take on contract work or pursue an MA in Public History represents a successful outcome, but so does a student who chooses a different career path but supports the field by serving on a local historical society or heritage advisory board.

Another benefit of the placement program is, quite simply, to get work done. In most (all) heritage organizations, there is a backlog of work to do and a long list of projects that organizations would love to get done if only they had the time and money. Since many community partners are non-profits or governments which rely on grants or tax dollars, they are acutely aware of the need for financial accountability, and that productivity is important in being responsible stewards of public funds. By hosting placement students, small projects can be undertaken without having to spend time searching for and interviewing prospective contractors or staff. With a little time spent on project planning and supervision a long-postponed project can be completed. Since most heritage organizations are on tight budgets, this can be a way to stretch resources.[22]

By engaging with young soon-to-be professionals, community partners can develop a pool of potential summer students or contractors with whom they might work in the future. The potential for innovation is great when working with people looking at things with fresh eyes, who are not bogged down by how things have always been done. The most successful students arrive with an infectious enthusiasm that reminds their hosts of the importance of their work, how fortunate they are to make this a career, and the fact that public history can be fun.

For Post-Secondary Institutions

This program introduces history and other liberal arts students to previously unknown career opportunities. It introduces them to a world of professional work that is clearly different from the type of jobs that they might have held elsewhere. It both interests them and engages them in their communities. It builds transferable skills in research, project completion, teamwork, and communication. For some, it continues to foster critical thinking as they reflect on the interaction between theory and practice, whether it be in archival practice or creating heritage markers with the public in mind. Finally, it connects the university to the community it serves.

For students

Placement gives students a personal learning experience that they find rich and meaningful. As one student put it, ‘The field placement allowed me to have a glimpse into the professional world of historical preservation. I enjoyed the chance of being a part of making history available to the public and am thankful for the experience.’ Placement serves as an introduction to the practicalities and issues of real world historical work. Another student said, ‘I believe I acquired a broader depth of knowledge, such as how archival work is applied in the ‘real world.’ … Overall the placement program does achieve what I thought it would – dipping a foot into the application of knowledge and coming away understanding how history can be applied to job positions.’

Evaluating Success

The elements that contribute to a successful placement are a manageable project, a clear commitment to teaching on the part of the community supervisor, and a student that is willing and able to put in the effort needed. We have had an occasional unsuccessful placement, mostly due to unforeseeable difficulties on the part of the student or the community partner.

Students tell us that they enjoyed their placements and that they are proud of what they accomplished: ’The work I did … at the archives is a mark of pride, as is knowing the entirety of the Jasper Place fonds!’

They also appreciated the opportunity to work in a professional setting: ‘I am immensely glad for … the opportunity. There is only so much the classroom can prepare you for in a career and I think the placement provided that experience.’ Another student said, ‘I gained perspective on how history is done outside of an academic … world. … my time at [the Historic Resources Management Branch] really showed me how to be realistic with my historic work. It was very valuable to me because the issues that I struggled with while working on these projects were more ‘real’ than anything I have previously done.’

Students have reported that the placement experience was useful to them in clarifying their career goals. Of two students who worked on one project, one elected to undertake an MA in public history and the other decided that this field was not for him. He is now in law school. Both are successful outcomes. One student reported, ‘The placement program allowed me the opportunity to have experience in curatorial work…. the hands-on experience is so valuable and helpful in ensuring you are on the right path with your career goals. …this course has taught me that this career option is the right fit for me, and there is nothing more exciting than finding something you truly love.’

Some students have been able to use their experience and learning more directly after graduating: ‘In my post-university career, I am floored by how often my field placement has helped me. Really unexpectedly, at work, I am often consulted about records storage and archiving… I mentioned I had done work at the City of Edmonton Archives once and now staff come to me about my opinions on records management since we legally keep all files for ten years.’ Another reported, ‘Since my time as a student, I’ve been able to write another marker on contract … and I was also a successful applicant for a contract to write a plaque for Elk Island National Park.’ A third said, ‘One of the greatest parts of being placed there was seeing the many different programs [the Historic Resources Management Branch] is involved in… This knowledge has been especially useful in my post-university life working at a local museum, giving me the ability to explain to the public where to find the information for their own research or projects.’

This student also illustrates one way that the placement program can stimulate the critical thinking that we all hope our students will develop. She said, ‘Our trials in writing the [heritage] marker texts… made me more aware of the need to ensure representation of as many groups as possible in my writings and exhibits, rather than simply what has been focused on in previous years. I have definitely witnessed the need for more representation in the public history we display to the visitors of our museum and have made my own efforts to address the issue, but our discourse still needs improvement.’


MacEwan University’s public history placement program offers a variety of benefits to students, community partners, and the University itself. By taking students out of the classroom and making the workplace a site of learning, the program at once demonstrates the relevance of their academic learning while introducing students to the real-world challenges that public historians face in their work. It is an approach that can be replicated in any community and by any post-secondary institution, especially those without large-scale co-op or internship programs. The Field Placement is an example of integrating experiential learning in small ways into a single course. It has proven to be a great way to build relationships between organizations and in the professional community while helping to mould a future generation of public historians and community advocates.

Valla McLean, MAS, MLIS is the university archivist and classics, history and philosophy librarian at MacEwan University. Tim O’Grady is the government records archivist at the City of Edmonton Archives, and holds an MA in Public History from the University of Western Ontario. Allan Rowe works for the Historic Resources Management Branch in the Government of Alberta and is an adjunct professor of history in the department of Histoy and Classics, University of Alberta. Carolee Pollock is assistant professor of history at MacEwan University, teaching both British Empire history and Canadian history.


[1] Barbara J. Howe, ‘Student Historians in the ‘Real World’ of Community Celebrations’, in The Public Historian, vol 9, no 3, 1987, p127. is also a common practice at universities and colleges across Canada.

[2] Marla R. Miller, ‘Playing to Strength: Teaching Public History at the Turn of the 21stCentury’, in American Studies International, vol 42, nos 1 & 2, 2004, p186.; Robert R. Weyeneth and Daniel J. Vivian, ‘Charting the Course: Challenges in Public History Education, Guidance for Developing Strong Public History Programs’, in The Public Historian,vol 38, no 3, 2016, p34. DOI: 10.1525/tph.2016.38.3.25.

[3] Rachel Bernstein and Paul Mattingly, ‘The Pedagogy of Public History’, in Journal of American Ethnic History, vol 18, no 1, 1998, p80.; Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, ‘Report from the Field: Public History at Howard University’, in The Public Historian, vol 25, no 2, 2003, p96.; Miller, op cit, p194.

[4] Elizabeth Belanger, ‘Public History and Liberal Learning: Making the Case for the Undergraduate Practicum Experience’, in The Public Historian, vol 34, no 3, 2012, p32.

[5] Miller, op cit, p186.

[6] Glenda Riley, ‘Reaching Undergraduates with the Public History Message’, in The Public Historianvol 3, no 4, 1981, pp46-47.

[7] Deborah Welch, ‘Teaching Public History: Strategies for Undergraduate Program Development’, The Public Historian,vol 25, no 1, 2003, p78.

[8] Melissa Bingmann, ‘Advising Undergraduates about Career Opportunities in Public History’, in Perspectives in History, vol 47, no 3, 2009, p32; David Coles and Deborah Welch, ‘Bringing Campus and Community Together: Doing Public History at Longwood College’, in The History Teachervol 35, no 2, 2002, p231.

[9] Belanger, op cit, pp32, 50-51.

[10] One of the distinctions we discuss is the distinction between history, heritage and public history. ‘Heritage, like history, uses the past, but it makes no pretense of being self-critical: it makes no apologies for pursuing its work with the pre-determined goals of making us feel proud of our past whether or not we ought to feel proud’. Sam Wineburg, ‘Making Historical Sense’, in Peter Stearns, Peter Seixas and Sam Wineburg (eds), Knowing, Teaching and Learning History: National and International Perspectives, New York University Press, New York, 2000, p311. ‘… public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.  In this sense, it is history that is applied to real-world issues. In fact, applied history was a term used synonymously and interchangeably with public history for a number of years’.

[11] While we are not attempting to train public historians in our modest undergraduate program, we agree that hands-on experience is essential. See Weyeneth and Vivian, op cit, p34.

[12] Again, this aspect meets one of the concerns raised by Weyeneth and Vivian: ‘One of the most constructive roles that history departments can play is to better advise their undergraduates on what public history is, what public history careers exist, the necessity of a graduate degree in the field, and how to choose the right graduate program for themselves’ Weyeneth and Vivian, op cit, pp32-33.

[13] Miller, op cit, p177.

[14] Noel J. Stowe, ‘Public History Curriculum: Illustrating Reflective Practice’, in The Public Historianvol 28, no 1, 2006, p47. Reflective practice as it relates to learning is discussed in Ian Wight, Jon Kellett and Johannes (Hans) Pieters, ‘Practice – reflection – learning: work experience in planner education’, in Planning Practice & Research, vol 31, no 5, 2016. DOI 10.1080/02697459.2016.1222109.  Although focused on undergraduate planning students, many of their ideas are relevant to our placement – including the importance of bridging the academic and professional gap and using journals as a gauge of successful learning.

[15] Miller argued that field placement projects try ‘to provide beginning students with some practical sense of what it means to work with a historical agency or institution; to practice skills associated with teamwork; …and to see for themselves the everyday challenges faced by often under-funded, under-staffed organizations’ Miller, op cit, p192. These are the goals of our program.

[16] Weyeneth and Vivian, op cit, p31.

[17] NCPH Curriculum and Training Committee ‘Best Practices in Public History: Certificate Programs in Public History’. Adopted by the NCPH Board of Directors March 2010. Accessed July 25, 2018. NCPH Curriculum and Training Committee ‘Best Practices in Public History: Establishing and Developing a Public History Program’. Adopted by the NCPH Board of Directors February 2016. Accessed July 25, 2018.

[18] Weyeneth and Vivian, op cit, pp32-33.

[19] Stowe, op cit, p47; Wight, Kellett and Pieters, op cit.

[20] To date, one student has completed an MA in Public History, one student has finished an MA in Archival Studies and is currently an intern as an archivist at UNICEF in New York, and one student is in an MLIS program.

[21] All students have given their consent for comments from their journals and emails to be included in this article.

[22] ‘In fact, field experiences at a number of levels – whether field service assignments as one element within a course, or a full-fledged internship – can have a significant effect strengthening the public history community… building the capacity of underfunded and understaffed local organizations, and thickening ties between and among institutions’ were also benefits of field experience extolled by Marla Miller. Miller, op cit, p186.

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