HS 5393. The Power of the Past: Introduction to Public History - Spring 2018

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Course Information

Instructor Information

Dr. Lindsey Passenger Wieck (LWieck [at] stmarytx. edu)

Office Hours
12:00PM-2PM Tuesdays; 10AM-12PM Wednesdays
or schedule an appointment

Office Location
Chaminade Tower 500 - Department of History

Office Phone

Contact Info
Feel free to call during office hours or email if you have questions.

Course Details

Class Time
12:20-1:35PM Monday and Wednesday

Class Location
AT&T Center for Information Technology 106

Twitter hashtag

Fixed Deadlines
Blog Posts 11:59PM on Friday after listed

Blog Comments 11:59PM on Sunday after blog is due

Discussion Board by 10AM the day of class

Course Texts

Books to Acquire:

Faye Sayer, Public History: A Practical Guide (2015) | paperback

Andrew Hurley, Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities (2010) | kindle | paperback

Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (2015) | check out used book prices & kindle price for discounted options paperback

Other readings:
Other readings will be available here or via email & Canvas.

Course Description & Objectives

This introduction to Public History will examine the historiographical and methodological underpinnings of the field and teach strategies for meeting the challenges of presenting historical narrative and interpretation in public settings. This course will introduce students to a variety of fields and contexts in which public historians work, and orient students to larger program goals that will culminate in an internship, capstone project, and professional preparation. This class will immerse students in the field of public history -- in its methods and its debates. Students will engage in group and individual projects to gain experience in the diverse branches of this field.

What is Public History? Public history engages the general public with history in real world settings. It refers to how history is presented and interpreted outside the classroom or academic environment. It involves historical content, interpretation, and use of secondary and primary sources, but also includes tools and strategies for public presentation that enhance popular awareness of the historical past and the world around them. Public history institutions depend upon collaborative relationships between historians and community leaders, activists, and anyone interested in stimulating historical awareness within society. By making explicit links between the past and the present, public history activities promote tourism, economic development, and a general sense of community wellbeing inspired by a shared the past.

Upon the successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • Describe the various public and private institutions that interpret history for the general public. You will learn about methods of public history and debates in this field.
  • Visit and analyze public history institutions in San Antonio, and consider the role of Heritage Tourism in the region
  • Design and implement digital projects that present historical material to a general audience using a variety of digital tools.
  • Explain the importance of incorporating multiple perspectives into historical interpretation.
  • Better articulate your Public History Project - if you have taken HS 5390, you will create a pilot version of your Public History project. If you have not taken HS 5390, you will begin articulating possibilities for your project. If you are not a Public History track student, you will have opportunities to integrate public history into your own discipline or engage in an additional project that is of interest to you.

The Alamo
The Alamo on Freeway


Unit Date Topics Readings Tasks To Do
What is Public History?
W 1/10
  • Introductions
  • Setting up Blog
  • Course Overview - Syllabus and Contract for B
  • What is Public History?
  • Survey of Digital Skills

    Blog 00 Write a short introductory post that introduces yourself. Include a short description of what you'd like to learn in this class and why you're interested in public history. Please also describe one thing that a teacher has done to best facilitate your learning.

    W 1/17
  • What is Public History?
  • READ Faye Sayer, Public History, chapter 1: "Introduction: History Beyond the Classroom" (p. 1-19)
    READ Robert Weible, "Defining Public History: Is it Possible? Is it Necessary?"
    Blog 01 What interests you about public history? Find, read, and reference at least two NCPH blog posts that address this field of interest. Include a definition of public history that references Sayer and class discussions? What should be the goal of public history? (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 01 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    M 1/22
  • Where is public history located?
  • Who practices public history?
  • Museums, Archives, and Heritage Centers
  • READ Faye Sayer, Public History, chapter 2: "Museums, Archives, and Heritage Centers" (p. 22-45)

    EXPLORE Institute of Texan Cultures Collection Blog

    W 1/24
  • Where is public history located?
  • Who practices public history?
  • Community History

  • Notes
    READ Faye Sayer, Public History, chapter 5: "Community History" (p. 113-146) (skim "history of community history" and archaeology sections)

    READ Rebecca Wingo and Amy Sullivan, "Remembering Rondo: An Inside View of a History Harvest," AHA Perspectives, March 2017

    EXPLORE Remembering Rondo

    EXPLORE Historic Rondo Map


    Blog 02 Choose one of the public history jobs listed in Sayer Chapters 2 or 5 (pg. 44-45, 146) or another public history job. Discuss the types of tasks this type of job would do? How does this job connect to your definition of public history from Blog 01? Reference at least two examples of websites/projects that connect to this work (e.g. if discussing a Museum you could reference the ITC website or the Remembering Rondo site for a community historian). Also list two resources for finding jobs in this field. (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 02 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    M 1/29 The Practice of Public History - Guest Speaker
    B. Erin Cole, Exhibit Developer, Minnesota Historical Society
    EXPLORE Beyond Bollywood exhibit - make sure to scroll through the photos to see what the exhibit looked like

    EXPLORE Excellence in Label Writing Winners - pay especially close attention to pages 7-8. DISCUSSION BOARD: CANVAS

    W 1/31
  • Evaluating Public and Digital History Projects
  • Popular Uses of History in American Life
  • Blogging Bootcamp
  • READ Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelan, "The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life," from The Public History Reader, p. 30-55 on Canvas

    EXPLORE Histories of the National Mall


    Blog 03 Find and evaluate a public history resource or project online (we will discuss this in class this week.) (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 03 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

  • Public History in Cities
  • Digital History

  • Creating Story Maps
  • Creating Data Maps
  • M 2/5
  • San Antonio History & Urban History
  • The History of San Antonio Foodways: A Public History Project - Introducing Group Project for class
  • READ Gustavo Arellano, "The Comfort of Tamales at the End of 2017," The New Yorker, December 23, 2017.

    READ Tracing the History of Tex Mex

    READ Pati Jinch, "Tex-Mex cooking: It’s not Mexican, and maybe that’s the point", The Washington Post


    W 2/7
  • Digital History
  • Evaluating Digital Projects
  • READ Faye Sayer, Public History, chapter 8: "Digital Media" (p. 219-245)

    READ EXPLORE Miriam Posner, "How Did They Make That?"

    EXPLORE Bexar County 300th Anniversary Celebration project


    Blog 04 Evaluate a digital history project from the list of digital projects below. What tools do these projects use? What types of resources do they include? Evaluate this project using the digital project evaluation rubric we created together. Note whether you think this rubric needs modification. (Due Friday)
  • Digital Harlem
  • Geography of the Post
  • Her Hat Was in the Ring
  • HistoryPin
  • Histories of the National Mall
  • Language of the State of the Union
  • Locating London’s Past
  • Lost Museum
  • Cleveland Historical
  • Old Bailey Online
  • Orbis
  • Papers of the War Department
  • Railroads and the Making of Modern America
  • Redlining Richmond
  • Voting America
  • Women Writer’s Project
  • Viral Texts
  • Six Degrees of Francis Bacon
  • Follow the Money

    Blog Response 04 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

  • M 2/12
  • Historic Preservation in the City
  • READ Andrew Hurley, Beyond Preservation, ch. 1: "Preservation in the Inner City" (pg. 1-31)


    W 2/14
  • Merging Public History and Historic Preservation
  • The Importance of Community Input and Engagement in these Projects
  • READ Divide Readings by Group: Andrew Hurley, Beyond Preservation
  • ch. 3: "An Experiment in North St. Louis" (pg. 55-94)
  • ch. 4: "History that Matters: Integrating Research and Neighborhood Planning" (pg. 95-120)


  • Blog 05 Consider a historic preservation project or site in San Antonio (potential resources for this project). Outline preservation efforts and stakeholders involved. Evaluate the preservation project, connecting this week's readings and class discussions. What suggestions would you have to strengthen this project? (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 05 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    M 2/19
  • Historic Preservation in San Antonio Guest Speakers from San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation
  • READIntroduction and Chapters 1-2 in Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach by Beverly Serrell, 2015: on canvas
  • ch. 2: "Taking it to the Streets: Public History in the City" (pg. 32-54)
  • ch. 5: "Making a Place for Nature: Preserving Urban Environments" (pg. 120-145) <


  • W 2/21
  • Best Practices of Public History, Historic Preservation, and Community Engagement in Cities
  • Articulating Project Proposals
  • Public History Interpretation Workshop with Margaret Sternbergh, Interpretation Specialist
  • READ Writing Effective Interpretive Text from Te Papa National Services, January 2016 on canvas

    Instead of today's discussion board, please do this activity and post your example on your blog prior to class (due by 10AM Weds morning): Over the next week, pay attention to the informational text you encounter in person and digitally. Look for an example of text that you find especially engaging. The text does NOT need to be related to public history, museums, or heritage sites but its primary purpose should be convey information or facts. Look for something that is about 100-300 words.

    Examples of text can be:

  • Printed material: Brochures, maps, signage
  • Social media: posts or captions that have factual information or narratives
  • Websites: tourism sites, restaurants/hotels/retail webpages with history or about sections, blog posts
  • Museum digital resources: Virtual exhibitions, collection databases, etc
  • Blog 06 Identify a San Antonio site you think is worthy of historic preservation. Detail the site, its importance, and the potential benefits for recognizing the space. Include a brief plan of how you'd approach preserving this site or creating a public history of this site. Include photos and discussion of how you'd invest different stakeholders in the project. (Due Friday)

    Bonus Activity: Complete ScoutSA's Discovery survey for this site (on your phone/tablet).

    Blog Response 06 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    M 2/26
  • Discussion: Final Class Project
  • Project Planning
  • Checkin: Contract for B
  • Peer Review a Blog Post
  • None Email Dr. Wieck a link to the blog post you'll be revising this week to receive feedback.
    W 2/28
  • Skills Lab 2: Creating Story Maps
  • EXPLORE Choose a sample map from ESRI's Story Maps to examine and discuss (or even look at a few to get a feel for the different layouts available).
    Blog REVISION Choose one of your strongest blog posts that you have written so far. Using peer feedback, revise and repost a blog post. You will need to submit this with your final portfolio at the end of the semester. Include documentation in Canvas of the peer feedback you received.(Due Friday)
    M 3/5
  • Project Development Day - Create plan for rest of semester
  • Short presentations on annotated bibliographies
  • None Annotated Bibliography Due Sunday 3/4 at 12PM
    Annotated Bibliography Guidelines
  • Locate two articles or book chapters that are secondary sources to review related to the class project topic.
  • Locate two written or five visual primary sources related to the topic of the group project.
  • Post the sources you'll be reviewing on Canvas so your classmates don't review the same sources.
  • Create an annotated bibliography.
    • For each source you should create a citation in Chicago Manual of Style format (You can use Knight Cite or Zotero to generate these.).
    • Each source should include one paragraph that summarizes the reading (its key points and arguments) and explains why this source would be useful to the larger project.
  • Submit this annotated bibliography on the blog so your classmates can read and reference this.
  • Make sure you include active links to digital sources.
  • W 3/7
  • Policy, Politics, and History
  • Guest Speaker, Shannon Murray, Calgary Stampede
  • READ Faye Sayer, Public History, chapter 7: "Policy, Politics, and History" (p. 185-218)
    EXPLORE Calgary Stampede: Heritage
    Blog 07 Open Prompt: Topics can include maps & GIS, Digital History, Public History in Policy and Politics; National Parks; and/or NAGPRA. Blog post should include specific examples of projects or places discussed. (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 07 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday 3/18 at 5PM.

    History is Messy: Detangling Multiple Narratives
    M 3/12 and W 3/14 - SPRING BREAK NO CLASS - Enjoy!
    M 3/19
  • When History is Messy - Memory and History
  • READ Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre, Preface & ch. 1: "A Perfect Mob" (p.ix-43)
    W 3/21
  • When History is Messy - Memory and History
  • READ Divide Reading by Groups: Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre
  • ch. 2: "Looters" (p.44-86)
  • ch. 3: "The Smoking Gun" (p. 87-134)
  • Blog 08 Topic: When History is Messy - Memory and History - Big Context (Specific prompt TBD) (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 08 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    M 3/26
  • When History is Messy - Memory and History
  • READ Divide Reading by Groups: Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre
  • ch. 4: "Accurate but Not Precise" (p.135-179)
  • ch. 5: "Indelible Infamy" (p. 180-220)
  • ch. 6: "You Can't Carve Things in Stone" (p.221-262) READ EVERYONE: Kelman, Epilogue: "When Is Enough Enough" (p. 263-280)
  • W 03/28
  • When History is Messy - Memory and History
  • READ Chapter 4 from James E. Crisp, Sleuthing the Alamo.

    Blog 09 Topic: When History is Messy - Memory and History - San Antonio Context (Specific prompt TBD) (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 09 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    M 4/2 No Class - Happy Easter!
  • Project Draft due - StoryMap and Poster 4/2 at 11PM
    W 4/4
  • Independent Workday
  • Poster drafts for Research Symposium due. Posters to be judged must be e-mailed in PDF form to uro@stmarytx.edu by 5:00 pm on April 4, 2018.
    M 4/9
  • Representing Race in Public History
  • READ Felix V. Matos Rodriguez, "’The ‘Browncoats’ Are Coming’: Latino Public History in Boston.” The Public Historian, 23 (Fall, 2001): 15-28.
    Posters Due
    T 4/10 Set up for research symposium 4-7PM
    W 4/11 Independent Workday and Research Symposium
    M 4/16 Field Trip PH Proposal or PH 2nd Project or Additional Component proposal due
    W 4/18
  • Representing Race in Public History
  • READ James O Horton, “Presenting Slavery: The Perils of Telling America’s Racial Story,” The Public Historian 21:4 (1999): 19-38.
    Blog 10 Find a recent news article on a public history controversy (e.g. recent controversy over Confederate Memorials). Identify the stakeholders involved - does this site represent the stories of multiple groups of people? Were local individuals or communities involve in the creation of this site? How does integrating stories and analysis of race and cultural difference enrich public history? What would you recommend this site do to better represent a variety of stakeholders? (Due Friday)

    Blog Response 10 - Read and respond to two classmates' blogs by Sunday at 5PM.

    Final Projects and Professionalization Primer
    M 4/23
  • workshop projects / individual meetings
  • W 4/25
  • Finding Jobs and Internships
  • Navigating the Professional World of Public History
  • Story Map + Additional Project Components Due
    M 4/30
  • Presentations
  • W 5/2 - Study Day
    Final Exam
  • PH Proposal / PH Project / Additional Components due



    Component (click on labels for assignment overviews) Frequency
    Blogs Reflections and Analyses of Class Topics Complete 8 of 11 blog posts
    Blog Comments Read and comment on your peers' blog posts Comment on 2 of your peers' blog posts at least 7 of 10 weeks.
    Discussion Board Posts Briefly reflect on class readings before class to prepare for discussion. Respond to 13 of 19 discussion board threads
    Project Proposals & Drafts Submit drafts and proposals for project as required.
    Final Project & Portfolio Submit Final Project (including at least three components: storymap, wikipedia entry & poster) + Project Proposal/Additional Project Components


    This semester we will be using a Contract for B model. Links to view: Our Contract and Contract for B Checklist

    Link to: Assignment Guides and other Important Docs

    The course will adhere to St. Mary's University grading scale: Undergraduate Grading Policies & Graduate Grading Policies
    Assignment Infographic

    Class Policies


    Courtesy & Attendance
    My goal is for us to create a constructive learning environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing ideas and participating regularly. Therefore, I expect you to come on time and stay for the entire class period, listen attentively while others are speaking, and respect opinions other than your own. Chronic tardiness or absences will result in the lowering of your grade. This course adheres to St. Mary's University Attendance Policy - Students may receive a zero for any work missed due to an unexcused absence, and may be dropped for missing an equivalent of two weeks of classes

    Laptops and Mobile Devices
    Because this is a public/digital history class, please feel free to bring laptops and other devices to work on projects, take and consult notes, and to refer to any digital readings. However, if I feel laptops and tablets are becoming a distraction, you will be asked to put them away. I reserve the right to ban laptops and tablets if they become a problem. Except for extraordinary circumstances, I cannot see any reason why you would need to use a cell phone in class, so please put your phones away before class begins.

    Respect in Class and Online
    Because you will be given many opportunities to interact in person and online, please respect each other. No bullying or disrespect will be tolerated. If you are experiencing any problems, please let the instructor know, and we can work together to resolve any issues.

    Social Media
    On all social media accounts used in this course (blogs, Twitter), students are expected to uphold professional standards that meet university and professional codes of conduct.

    Assignments / Grading

    Due Dates
    Late work will not be accepted. Assignments submitted late will automatically receive no credit/zero points. Exceptions to this policy may occur in very rare cases (e.g. personal emergency or severe medical situations). These cases must be documented to my satisfaction and you must contact me before the due date.

    48-Hour Policy - Blogs/Project Steps
    With that said, I know things can get stressful during the semester, and to help you do your best work, I offer a 48-hour extension policy. Each student will get 48 hours that they can "spend" in 12 hour increments. You can only use this on blog assignments and on components of your final project (*not the final exam day deadline). To use this, email me before the assignment is due, letting me know you are using it, and after you have completed the assignment so I can mark it as done.

    Completion of Assignments
    To pass this class, you must complete all blog posts and all components of your final project. Failure to complete one of these assignments will automatically result in a grade of "F" for this course.

    Honor Code
    I take the university Honor Code very seriously, and I expect the same from you. Please make sure you are familiar with the guidelines regarding academic honesty, plagiarism, cheating, etc. The graded work you do in this class must be your own. In the case where you collaborate with other students make sure to fairly attribute their contribution to your project. Be sure to cite your sources to avoid issues of plagiarism and dishonesty. See me immediately if you have questions or doubts about what constitutes academic dishonesty, especially plagiarism. If an assignment is plagiarized in part or in full, the student receives a failing grade on that assignment and the incident will be reported to the Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.


    If you have any questions or concerns throughout the semester, please see or call me immediately. I am here to help you learn, but it is your responsibility to address any issues you have concerning course content, assignments, and classroom dynamics. Do not risk your grade; if you are having problems, please come and talk me before it is too late.

    Syllabus Modifications
    This syllabus will serve as our guide throughout the semester, but may change, particularly as we identity digital skills we would like to pursue throughout the semester. I will alert you to any major changes made.

    University Policies
    St. Mary’s University is committed to providing a safe, equitable, and fair environment where students can pursue academic excellence. Policies and procedures have been developed to foster and sustain such an environment and apply to all courses offered at the
university. Students need to be aware of these policies and procedures, which can be found in Gateway and within the “University Policies” tab of your course assigned Blackboard page. Please become familiar with these important policies and procedures, which include: Nondiscrimination, Sexual and Other Forms of Harassment, Students with Disability, and Human Subjects Research.

    Acknowledgments and license
    This syllabus borrows ideas from other history classes, including those taught by Leisl Carr Childers, Rebecca Wingo, and Jason Heppler.
    This syllabus and all assignments are copyrighted © 2018 Lindsey Wieck and licensed CC-BY 3.0 . You are free to use or modify this syllabus for any purpose, provided that you attribute it to the author, preferably at the course website listed above.


    Digital History Tools

    Carto - Mapping Big Data, Animating Time

    StoryMap JS - Mapping and Storytelling; integrating primary sources into maps

    Timeline JS

    Great Examples of Digital History Projects

    Stanford Spatial History Project

    Slate - 5 Great DH projects from 2015

    Cameron Blevins, Geography of the Post

    Making Maps / Doing Digital History

    The Programming Historian

    Workshops and other Resources by Lincoln Mullen

    Rice Digital History Resource Guides

    © 2018 Lindsey Passenger Wieck