HS 5393A - The Power of the Past: Introduction to Public History - Spring 2019

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Course Information

Instructor Information

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

Office Hours
Mon & Thurs 5-6:15PM; Mon: 11AM-12:30PM; Tues: 10-11AM or schedule an appointment.

Office Location
Chaminade Tower 500: Department of History

Office Phone

Course Details

Class Time & Location
12:35PM-1:50PM Tues/Thurs Charles Francis Hall 19

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This syllabus has been developed in active collaboration with Rebecca S. Wingo.

Course Texts

Required Books:

Lyon, Cherstin M.; Nix, Elizabeth M.; Shrum, Rebecca K., Introduction to Public History: Interpreting the Past, Engaging Audiences (2017) |

All other readings:
Other readings and resources will be available here or via Canvas.

Course Description & Objectives

b>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 It involves historical content, interpretation, and use of secondary and primary sources, but also includes tools and strategies for public presentation that enhance popular awareness of the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.

Adult typing on a typewriter
Skills you'll practice in this course:
  • Public speaking
  • Working collaboratively with peers and community partners
  • Networking and developing professional skills; developing portfolio and professional materials
  • Posing historical questions; finding & analyzing primary and secondary sources; citing sources
  • Using digital tools for storytelling


Date Topics Read & Prepare for Class Assignments Due
Week 1: Th 1/10 Defining Public History READ Yohann Koshy, "Hey, that's our stuff: Maasai tribespeople tackle Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum," The Guardian, 2018.

READ Jason Farago, "Artwork Taken From Africa, Returning to a Home Transformed," The New York Times, 2018.

DO Complete Interactive Syllabus

Week 2: T 1/15 Defining Public History READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 1 (p. 1-14)

QN Quote Notes 2A

Th 1/17 Defining Public History READ Robert Weible, “Defining Public History: Is it Possible? Is it Necessary?,” Perspectives on History, March 1, 2008.

READ NCPH, Read four pages - "How Historians Work,""Evidence of the Past," "The Changing Past," and "The Challenged Past."

READ Daniel Blue Tyx, "Signs and Blunders: The Fight to Commemorate a Massacre by the Texas Rangers."

QN Quote Notes 2B

Week 3: T 1/22 Interpreting the Past READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 3 (p. 33-55)

QN Quote Notes 3A

Th 1/24 Historic Landmarks & Historic Preservation READ Richard R. Flores, "The Alamo: Myth, Public History, and the Politics of Inclusion," Radical History Review 77 (2000), 91-103. (PDF on canvas)

READ Darlene Taylor, “I, Too, Sing America: Integrating the voices of all Americans in historic preservation,” History@Work, January 1, 2016.

QN Quote Notes 3B

Public History in the Wild #1
Week 4: T 1/29 St. Mary's University Collaborative Project

Meet in classroom. Be prepared to walk outside!

Guest speakers: St. Mary's faculty

READ Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Community Issue Exhibition Toolkit. 2018.

QN Quote Notes 4A

Th 1/31
  • Collecting History
  • Archives
  • READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 4 (p. 57-74, 76-78 "Community Collections")

    READ Ashley Farmer, “Archiving While Black,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2018.

    QN Quote Notes 4B

    Week 5: T 2/5
  • Archives
  • READ Susan Yee, “The Archive,” in Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, edited by Sherry Turkle (MIT Press, 2011), 31-36. (PDF on Canvas)

    READ Michelle Moravec, “5 Questions to Ask Before You Use a Digital Archive,” Medium, July 19, 2018.

    READ Mark Auslander, “Slavery’s Traces: In Search of Ashley’s Sack,” Southern Spaces, November 29, 2016.

    QN Quote Notes 5A

    Th 2/7 Archives Workday - Meet at Marianist Archives READ None - start reading for next week Public History in the Wild #2
    Week 6: T 2/12 Museums READ Amy Lonetree, “Collaboration Matters: The Minnesota Historical Society, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and the Creation of a ‘Hybrid Tribal Museum,” in Decolonizing Museums: Representing Native Americans in National and Tribal Museums (University of North Carolina Press, 2012), 29-72. (PDF on Canvas)

    QN Quote Notes 6A

    Th 2/14 Museums
  • Guest Presentation: Priscilla Reyes
  • READ Patty Limerick, “Prodding a Historic Friend to Do Better,” The Denver Post, July 13, 2018.

    READ Bob Beatty, “What Should a History Organization’s Main Goal Be?,” Medium, July 27, 2018."

    QN Quote Notes 6B

    Archive Item Analysis
    Week 7: T 2/19 Interpreting & Exhibiting History READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 5 (p. 83-111)

    READ B Erin Cole, "I Have to Write the Labels," 2018.

    QN Quote Notes 7A

    Th 2/21 Interpreting & Exhibiting History READ Beverly Serrell, Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach, Introduction, Chapters 1-2 (1-29) (PDF on Canvas)

    READ “Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition 2017," American Alliance of Museums.

    QN Quote Notes 7B

    Week 8: T 2/26 History Harvest Planning READ Rebecca S. Wingo and Amy C. Sullivan, "Remembering Rondo: An Inside View of a History Harvest," (2017)

    READ Rebecca S. Wingo, History Harvest Resources - Read 1) History Harvest Metadata Cheatsheet, 2) Sample Metadata Google Form, 3) Participant Release Form, 4) Artifact Form, 5) Sample Interview Questions, 6) History Harvest Supply Guide, 7) File Naming Conventions, and 8) Sample Save-The-Date Cards

    QN Quote Notes 8A

    Th 2/28 No Class - Wieck out of town Public History in the Wild #3
    Week 9: T 3/5 Oral History READ The Oral History Manual, chapters 6 and 7. (pdf on canvas)

    QN Quote Notes 9A

    Deadline to complete Presentation 1

    History Harvest Plan

    Th 3/7 American Memory and Monuments WATCH Mitch Landrieu, “Address on Removal of Four Confederate Statues,” May 19, 2017 (OR read transcript of this speech from The New York Times)

    READ AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments, American Historical Association, August 2017.

    READ David Lowenthal, “Response to the ‘AHA Statement on Confederate Monuments,” Perspectives on History, November 1, 2017.

    READ Eric Foner, “Opinion | Confederate Statues and ‘Our’ History,” The New York Times, August 20, 2017.

    READ Karen Finney, “I’m black. Robert E. Lee is my relative. His statues can’t come down soon enough,” The Washington Post, August 15, 2017.

    DISCOVER Find an article about the controversy of Confederate Memorials on your own. The most recent current event is the takedown of Silent Sam at UNC. Answer: What is the position of the article you chose about Silent Sam? What is the role of public history / public historians in the monument debate?"

    History Harvest Plan
    Week 10: T 3/12 and Th 3/14 SPRING BREAK - NO CLASS - Enjoy!!
    Week 11: T 3/19 History Harvest Planning & Logistics DO History Harvest Prep
    Week 12: T 3/26 STRIVE Resume Workshop DO Continue work on processing History Harvest Materials

    DO Bring copy of resume to class

    Th 3/28 WIECK GONE - Process History Harvest Materials DO Process History Harvest Materials Public History in the Wild #4
    Week 13: T 4/2 Digital Public History READ Andrew Hurley, “Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide,” The Public Historian 38, no. 1 (February 2016): 69-88.

    READ Lara Kelland, “Digital community engagement across the divides,” History@Work, April 20, 2016.

    READ David Hochfelder, “Meeting our audiences where they are in the digital age,” History@Work, March 30, 2016. "

    QN Quote Notes 13A

    Th 4/4 Digital Public History and Social Media READ Jeff Robinson, “Thinking like a community: Beyond shared authority,” History@Work, June 15, 2012.

    READ Hannon, Kerry “Museums, the New Social Media Darlings,” New York Times, October 28, 2016

    READ Jennifer Hijazi, “Is Instagram killing museum culture or reinventing it?” PBS Newshour. November 17, 2017

    READ Mary Rizzo, “Every tool is a weapon: Why the digital humanities movement needs public history,” History@Work, November 2, 2012."

    QNQuote Notes 13B

    Processed Materials Due
    Week 14: T 4/9 Engaging Audiences READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 6 (p. 113-137) + Part of Chapter 7 (Assigned in Class)

    QN Quote Notes 14A

    Th 4/11
  • Writing Narratives & Exhibit Design Logistics
  • Developing Review Criteria
  • Bring Draft 1 to class with you. Draft 1 of Exhibit Text & Artifact
    Week 15: T 4/16 Shared Authority READ Nina Simon, “Participatory Design and the Future of Museums,” in Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, et al, (The Pew Center for Arts & Humanities, 2011), 18-33. (PDF on canvas)

    READ Kathleen McLean, “Whose Questions, Whose Conversations?,” in Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, et al, (The Pew Center for Arts & Humanities, 2011), 70-79." (PDF on canvas)

    QN Quote Notes 15A

    Th 4/18 Easter Break - No class Exhibit Draft 2 + Digital Draft 1
    Week 16: T 4/23 Career Panel:
  • Farrah Varga: Villa Finale
  • Meagan Lozano: The Alamo (StMU Alum)
  • READ Lyon, et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 8 (p. 163-172)

    QN Quote Notes 16A

    Resume draft due
    Th 4/25 Exhibit Design Logistics & Peer Review DO Bring Drafts with You for Review Public History in the Wild #5 - Optional

    Deadline for Presentation 2

    Week 17: T 4/30 Exhibit Design Logistics & Peer Review DO Bring Drafts with You for Review Exhibit Final + Digital Draft 2

    Resume due

    Th 5/1 Start of Reading Days - No Class Final Projects Due
    Week 18 - TBA - during Exam Time LAUNCH PARTY & PRESENTATIONS



    Component (click on labels for assignment overviews) Points per assignment Number of Assignments Total
    Quote Notes This assignment helps you develop note-taking skills to better comprehend class readings, to help jog your memory in class discussions, to find quotable quotes to cite and reference in class and your writing, and to connect class readings to your own experiences and ideas. Each quote note assignment will be completed on a template provided by the instructor, and may also include at-home and in-class writing assignments completed on the back of the page. Quote note assignments must be submitted in class, and cannot be submitted if you missed class (except in the case of excused absences). (18 available) 5 15 75
    Presentations Twice this semester, you will present to the class on current events & issues in public history. The first presentation will be 2-3 minutes and utilize 1 source (15 pts). The second presentation will be 5-6 minutes and use at least 3 sources (30 pts). You will also create a short blog post to accompany your presentation. This assignment will help you concisely community ideas both verbally and in writing, while helping you gain familiarity about the larger public history field. Each student will sign up for 2 presentation dates and list their topic and sources in a shared google document to ensure everyone presents on unique topics. 15 & 30 2 45
    Public History in the Wild This assignment will document public history artifacts / exhibitions / interpretations / methods that you encounter in your daily life. You will use our WordPress blogging platform to upload a photograph of your “wild” public history moment and include a brief description of its significance. This assignment will help you practice writing for a public audience, practice writing concisely in preparation of your exhibit and label text, learn to read your environment like a public historian, and familiarize yourself with local history. (5 available) 20 4 80
    Final Project & Drafts Throughout the semester, we will work on a project on place-based storytelling on the StMU campus. While we will work to create stories to be placed on physical markers and work together to create a digital tour of campus, each student will complete components of this assignment, collecting oral histories, working with archival objects, and creating exhibit text. This project will help you work with public history methods and skills, while also refining your writing and presentation skills. Project components will be due throughout the semester, adding up to 275 points. varies multiple 275
    Other Interactive survey (10 points) and a resume (15 points). There may be additional opportunities to earn extra points. 10 & 15 2 25
    Attendance Penalty Attendance and participation in this course are key. If a student misses more than four classes, there will be a -10pt penalty/missed class (beyond the first four classes missed). Missing even four classes may impact your engagement in this class.
    TOTAL 500

    Grading Scale

    Letter Grades are comprised of points earned.
    Grade Points
    A 471
    A- 446
    B+ 431
    B 416
    B- 396
    C+ 376
    C 346
    D 300
    F 299 or less

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

    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
    Please feel free to use any device that makes your participation in class discussions easier. It is expected that students of this class will use technology during class to take notes, experiment/work (during appropriate class times), refer to digital readings, show examples, etc. It is also expected that these technologies will not be used during class for purposes outside the scope of the class, including instant messaging (including with classmates), e-mail, social media (outside of the use as examples to particular arguments), etc. Please do not leave your cell phones on audible ring, and barring emergencies, do not take or make phone calls during class. The right to use such technologies in the classroom may be revoked at any time by the professor. Additionally, tech-free or screens-down classes will be employed throughout the semester during which time no technology may be used in the class. Headphones are prohibited from this classroom unless a student requires them for accomodations.

    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. Classroom discussion is meant to allow us to hear a variety of viewpoints. This can only happen if we respect each other and our differences.

    Child Care
    Parenting should not restrict your access to class. If there is an emergency that causes an immediate change to your child care plans for that day, you are invited to bring your child to class. Please be prepared to step out with your child if needed.

    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.

    Two Late Passes
    With that said, I know things can get stressful during the semester, and to help you do your best work, I offer two late passes. Each student will get 48 hours that they can "spend" with each of these two passes. You can not use these on your final project deadline. To use this, email me before the assignment is due, letting me know you are using it.

    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.

    Study Days and Exam Days Policy
    There will be two study days (November 28 and November 29) during which students prepare for final exams. No classes should be scheduled on study day; optional review sessions can be held. Final exams will be held on November 29 for Thursday night classes, November 30 through December 5th. The final exam schedule can be found under Related Links (last item on the list).

    Controversial Content
    During this course you may encounter a range of topics to which you may experience strong reactions. It is important to keep an open mind and be respectful of others, as this will help to facilitate the discussion about content, audience, and purpose. If you feel uncomfortable with certain materials (such as references to violence or sex) or inappropriate language, please let me know and we can make accommodations or discuss other learning opportunities.


    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 Canvas page. Please become familiar with these important policies and procedures, which include:
  • Nondiscrimination, Sexual and Other Forms of Harassment
  • Students with Disability
  • Human Subjects Research.
  • Acknowledgments and license
    This syllabus has been developed in active collaboration with Rebecca S. Wingo. It also borrows ideas from other history classes, including those taught by Leisl Carr Childers, Jason Heppler, and Amanda Hill.
    This syllabus and all assignments are copyrighted © 2019 Lindsey Wieck and licensed CC-Non-Commercial BY 4.0. You are free to use or modify this syllabus for any non-commercial 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

    © 2019 Lindsey Passenger Wieck