Careers for Students of History
Resources for Further Exploration
- Chapter 1: Historians in Classrooms: Schools, Colleges, and Universities
- Chapter 2: Historians in Museums
- Chapter 3: Historians in Editing and Publishing
- Chapter 4: Historians in Archives
- Chapter 5: Historians in Historic Preservation
- Chapter 6: Historians in Federal, State, and Local History
- Chapter 7: Historians as Consultants and Contractors
The two major national historical organizations in the United States, the American Historical Association (http://www.historians.org) and the Organization of American Historians (http://www.oah.org), can serve as a useful starting point for understanding the profession. In addition to their scholarly journals, both publish newsletters that carry regular columns and information about the profession as well as a variety of job listings in the profession (both of which are now available online).
Perhaps the most useful supplement to this pamphlet is Public History: Essays from the Field, edited by James B. Gardner and Peter S. LaPaglia (Melbourne, Fla.: Krieger Publishing Company, 1999). The National Council on Public History (http://www.ncph.org) also publishes the invaluable A Guide to Graduate Programs in Public History, which will help you find a department for further training in the profession.
The AHA and the OAH provide a wide range of information about history teaching, and offer multiple services to history teachers at all levels. In addition to their scholarly journals, both publish newsletters that carry regular columns and information for teachers of history, and academic job listings in the profession. Both also have “teaching” sections on their web sites with information for teachers at all levels. Both have committees or staff responsible for addressing the issues of history teachers in community colleges, and both make a special effort to involve secondary school history teachers in their annual meetings by holding special sessions and workshops for them. The annual programs for both are also available online.
The Society for History Education (http://www.csulb.edu/~histeach/) is dedicated to promoting the teaching of history at all levels; its quarterly journal, The History Teacher, addresses itself to pedagogical issues and techniques of interest to historians.
History Matters, a special joint project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities at the City University of New York and George Mason University, provides a web site designed for high school and college teachers of U.S. history survey courses that gives additional insight into use of electronic resources in the teaching of history.
Community College Historians in the U.S.: A Status Report, edited by Nadine Hata (OAH, 2000) is an excellent overview of the work of historians in community colleges. The OAH has a standing Committee on Community Colleges, information about which can be found on the OAH web site.
The Community College Humanities Association (http://www.ccha-assoc.org) and the American Association of Community Colleges (http://www.aacc.nche.edu) contain more general information about the two-year and community college system in the United States and publish job advertisements for a variety of disciplines, including history.
Primary and Secondary Education
In addition to the resources listed above, the National Council for Social Studies (http://www.socialstudies.org) has chapters or members in every state, the District of Columbia, and many foreign countries. Its local chapters can provide up-to-date information about social studies career opportunities in history and other related disciplines. The National Council for History Education is a national coalition of educators that works to ensure quality history education in classrooms throughout the nation and across all grade levels.
Many state departments of education carry information on certification requirements on their web sites.
For some insight from those working in the museum field, consult the essays by Anne Woodhouse, Barbara Franco, and Lonnie Bunch in Public History: Essays from the Field. For more information about the scope of museum employment, see the Museum Job Resources Online web site (http://www.algonquincollege.com/museum/jobres/index.html). The bible for new museum openings is the newsletter of the American Association of Museums, AVISO, which is alone worth the price of membership in the association (http://www.aam-us.org). Another important organization for museum professionals is the American Association for State and Local History (http://www.aaslh.org).
The largest museum employers in the United States are the Smithsonian Institution (http://www.si.edu) and the National Park Service (http://www.nps.gov). Both advertise salaried positions as well as volunteer and internship opportunities. Other helpful publications include Museum Jobs from AZ: What They Are, How to Prepare, And Where to Find Them (G. W. Bates, Batax Museum Publishing, 1994) and 19992000 Guide to Museum Studies and Training in the United States, Resource Report (American Association of Museums, 1999). The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (http://aic.stanford.edu/) is another good resource for those considering the field.
For general introductory material, consult the essays by Candace Falk and Daniel Greer in Public History: Essays from the Field. A general introduction to the topic of documentary editing can be found in Mary-Jo Kline's A Guide to Documentary Editing (2nd ed., Johns Hopkins, 1998). For information on a variety of subjects relating to editing, consult the bibliography compiled by Beth Luey in Editing Documents and Texts (Madison House Publishers, 1990) and Michael E. Stevens and Steven B. Burg's Editing Historical Documents: A Handbook of Practice (Alta Mira Press, 1997).
The professional association for documentary editors is the Association for Documentary Editing (http://etext.virginia.edu/ade). Its quarterly journal, Documentary Editing, reviews recently published editions as well as available jobs in the field. Announcements may also be found in Perspectives and the OAH Newsletter.
For documentary editing in an electronic format, view the examples at the Model Editions Partnership (http://adh.sc.edu). For publishing, check out the Association of American Publishers (http://www.publishers.org), Association of American University Presses (http://aaupnet.org/), and Society for Scholarly Publishing (http://www.sspnet.org/). The latter also offers several continuing education workshops throughout the year. Publishers and presses are listed in Literary Marketplace (published annually by R. R. Bowker). Job listings for editors can be found in Publishers Weekly (http://www.publishersweekly.com).
For general introductory material beyond what is given in this chapter, consult the essays by Roy Tryon and Deborah Newman Ham in Public History: Essays from the Field. The national organization for archivists is the Society of American Archivists (http://www.archivists.org), which publishes American Archivist, a biannual scholarly journal; Archival Outlook, a bimonthly magazine that includes recent events and job listings; and a wide variety of manuals and monographs. Its web site includes more introductory material on archives, information on continuing education, and a list of schools that offer archival programs, as well as links to regional and state archival associations. Those interested in an introductory look at the archival profession will want to check out the Archival Fundamentals Series, a multi-volume set that explores many aspects of archival work.
The American Library Association (http://www.ala.org) accredits schools offering library science degrees, and maintains a list of such schools across the nation, in addition to a wealth of additional information for librarians and information managers. The Academy of Certified Archivists' web site (http://www.certifiedarchivists.org) describes the steps necessary for the certification process and the benefits of certification. The web site of the Institute of Certified Records Managers (http://www.icrm.org) provides a similar service for records managers.
The National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (http://www.nagara.org) serves the needs of archivists and records managers who work for local, state, and national archives. Its web site includes links to member organizations, which may have job opportunities available.
Those interested in corporations should also see Corporate Archives and History: Making the Past Work, edited by Arnita A. Jones and Philip L. Cantelon (Krieger Publishing Company, 1993).
For a good overview of the field see articles by George W. McDaniel and Antoinette J. Lee in Public History: Essays from the Field. CRM, the monthly National Park Service publication that serves as a forum for national, state, and local preservation institutions, is one of the best methods for getting a picture of the types of people and the kinds of work that make up the field of cultural resource management. It is available in both paper and digital versions (http://www.cr.nps.gov/crm). For information on the National Park Service's abundant source of training opportunities offered in CRM fields, see http://www.cr.nps.gov/training.htm. This site offers information on such subjects as internships, disaster training, and preservation seminars. A number of excellent training opportunities can also be found at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training site (http://www.ncptt.nps.gov). The National Trust for Historic Preservation (http://www.nationaltrust.org) maintains an excellent site that contains information on training opportunities, national programs, recent preservation activities, and, on its membership “Forum” site, a listing of job opportunities.
The National Trust also produces the Preservation Yellow Pages, edited by Julie Zagars (Wiley & Sons, 1997), an excellent source of information on CRM, including a wealth of contact information and summaries of federal standards and regulations. Additional job openings can be found in the AASLH's Dispatch.
For history within the federal government, consult the essays by Sylvia Kraemer and Jesse Stiller in Public History: Essays from the Field. The federal government makes current job listings available online at http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/index.htm. Most jobs of interest will be listed under category GS-0170, “Historian.” Individual jobs will have their own requirements, and information at the same web site will explain the process for applying for federal employment. Those interested in working for the National Park Service will want to consult http://www.nps.gov/personnel/ for available careers.
Historians are employed by the government in agencies such as the Senate Historical Office (http://www.senate.gov/learning/learn_history_about.html), Naval Historical Center (http://www.history.navy.mil), and Department of State Office of the Historian (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/). Individual states may make job listings available online or through a state personnel office. Your college's career counselor should know how to access this information for your state. The professional organization for historians employed in the federal government is the Society for History in the Federal Government (http://www.shfg.org). The organization serves as an advocate for federal historians. It also publishes a Directory of Federal Historical Programs and Activities, which lists addresses for all federal agency history offices.
The American Association for State and Local History (http://www.aaslh.org) is the main organization for state and local historical institutions in the United States. The association's monthly newsletter, Dispatch, is published in print and online, with job listings and information of importance to the community. The association also sponsors a yearly conference for continuing education and lists other continuing education opportunities on the web site, and its Directory of Historical Organizations lists thousands of state and local history organizations, and can be an excellent resource if you are looking for volunteer work, internships, or just want a sense of the variety of positions available.
For further information, see Carol Kammen's book On Doing Local History (AASLH, 1986), which provides a good introduction to the field of local history. Kammen has also recently edited a volume of useful essays in The Pursuit of Local History (AltaMira, 1996). You may also want to consult Robert Patterson's essay in Public History: Essays from the Field.
The perspective of the active historical consultant can be found in essays by Philip Cantelon and Jannelle Warren-Findley in Public History: Essays from the Field. Also see the Directory of Historical Consultants produced by the National Council on Public History at http://www.ncph.org/consultants.htm. One of the best sources for general information in the area of historic preservation is the web site of the Association of Cultural Resource Agencies (http://www.acra-crm.org). This web site lists consultants by type, offers summer jobs and internships, and provides contact information for its member institutions and independent consultants. It may be helpful to contact some of these agencies and individuals in order to get more specific information about career opportunities in the field. Some of the larger historical firms in the country are The History Factory in Chantilly, Virginia (http://www.historyfactory.com); History Associates in Rockville, Maryland (http://www.historyassociates.com); Historical Research Associates (http://www.hrassoc.com); and PHR Environmental Consultants (www.a2s-phr.com), now part of The IT Group (http://www.theitgroup.com). These sites give good examples of some specific work done by contract historians, and also include a number of useful links and contacts. For an example of some of the Requests for Proposals submitted by federal agencies, try the Commerce Business Daily site at http://cbd.savvy.com/.
Last Updated: May 22, 2007