Public History

PROGRAM IN PUBLIC HISTORY

The Department of History at Northeastern University invites applications to its Program in Public History. One of the oldest of its kind in North America, Northeastern’s public history graduates work in museums, archives, historical societies, documentary film production, and social activism. Students in this two-year program receive rigorous training in the theory and practice of history and the digital humanities through coursework, and apply this training through fieldwork in New England’s wealth of public history organizations.

Applicants and admitted students are invited and encouraged to join one of our Welcome Days. Please click here for more information and to RSVP.

WHY NORTHEASTERN?

Designed to accommodate a wide range of intellectual and professional interests, Northeastern’s public history program prides itself on:

Our broad and deep connections to practicing public historians:

Our Boston location allows us to develop a rich set of educational and professional opportunities for students. We make good use of its hundreds of historic sites, museums, and landscapes, and ensure that students experience and eventually contribute to these venues. Director Martin Blatt and program faculty have several decades of leadership in the Boston and national public history communities, and leverage their extensive professional networks to place students in places where they will learn and thrive.

Our dynamic faculty:

Northeastern’s history faculty prioritizes accessibility, collaboration, and cutting-edge research. They have advised or worked on projects close to home, in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, as well as further afield, in Russia, France, and Germany, and they regularly publish and comment in academic and popular settings.

Our commitment to socially engaged scholarship and practice:

Students work closely with Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections to develop digital and physical exhibits and research projects. We also partner with local and national groups to explore controversial historical topics. The past year our program partnered with the Humanities Action Lab, for a multi-year exploration of the past, present and future of incarceration, and the National Park Service to explore national appreciation of the Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site.

For more information, please contact Martin Blatt at m.blatt@neu.edu

 

COURSEWORK REQUIREMENTS

In their coursework, students  receive a thorough grounding in the methods, sources, and modes of writing employed by historians, social scientists, and humanists. Degree requirements include eleven courses: three required history and methodology courses, three general history electives, three public history electives, one fieldwork course and one seminar. Courses are offered in the late afternoons and evenings, to accommodate internships and work schedules, and we work closely with students in the program to develop schedules and materials that correspond to their interests and needs.

We are committed to pairing top-notch scholarship with hands-on practice, so classwork often incorporates work with local or national public history projects; consequently, the content of required courses and elective offerings changes frequently.

Students are required to take the following three courses:

  • Historical Theory and Methodology
  • Issues and Methods in Public History
  • Introduction to Digital History

Students are also required to take one graduate history seminar, in which they will write a major research paper, and to take at least three public history electives, which currently include:

  • Visual and Material Culture
  • Exhibitions and Museums
  • Historical Preservation
  • Humanities Action Lab: The History and Future of Mass Incarceration
  • Humanities Data Analysis
  • Managing Nonprofit Organizations
  • Public History of War
  • Public History and Slavery
  • Creative Place-Making

 

FIELDWORK REQUIREMENTS

Students are also required to complete 300 hours of fieldwork. Boston is home to hundreds of outstanding historical agencies and related organizations, and this requirement gives Northeastern students ample opportunity to develop skills, experience, and contacts at these sites.

In recent years, students have completed their fieldwork requirements at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library; WGBH (PBS) Boston; Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site; the USS Constitution Museum; Lowell National Historical Park; Boston National Historical Park; the Massachusetts Historical Society; the Massachusetts Preservation Commission; Northeastern Lights Production; Historic New England; The museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Friends of the Public Gardens; and Old Sturbridge Village. Students have also availed themselves of fieldwork opportunities in other regions of the United States, including the Chicago History Museum; the Guggenheim Museum; the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Museum of the California Pioneers. International fieldwork opportunities have included work in museums in London and Prague.

 

EMPLOYMENT UPON GRADUATION 

Northeastern’s public history graduates have found employment in agencies, organizations, archives, and businesses across the United States.

Employers of recent program graduates include:

  • Historic New England, Boston, MA
  • National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • National Park Service, Quincy and Boston, MA
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • Facing History and Ourselves, Brookline, MA
  • McCormick Library, Harrisburg, PA
  • JFK Library, Boston, MA
  • Blackside Films, Boston, MA
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
  • Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, CT
  • Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
  • Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • WGBH (PBS), Boston, MA

AFFILIATED FACULTY

Marty Blatt, Program Director and Professor of the Practice of History

Nicholas Brown, Assistant Teaching Professor

Victoria Cain, Assistant Professor of History

Gretchen Heefner, Associate Professor of History

Christopher Parsons, Assistant Professor of History

Benjamin Schmidt, Assistant Professor of History

 

For complete information on requirements for and policies in the graduate degree programs, please consult the following booklets:

General Graduate Regulations 2016 – 17

History Department Graduate Regulations 2016-17 (Detailed)

History Department Graduate Regulations 2015-16 (Detailed)

History Department Graduate Regulations 2014-15 (Detailed)

(Please note that some PlusOne Program details have been updated since publication. See the PlusOne section of our website for more details.)