Thinking about public history

Posted on September 28, 2006 under public history

takes up a lot of my time. Let me introduce myself: I’m an ABD historian of science in the upper Midwest, working on a soon-to-be-finished dissertation on medical quackery around syphilis in the early 20th C Midwest (that’s my soundbite, anyway).

Sometime during my academic career, I realized that what I really wanted to do was work in a museum–to work with objects, teach without grades, research collaboratively. However, this revelation happened after I had finished my coursework, and I’m certainly not going back to school ever again, so I’m (almost) a PhD historian, but a public history newbie. I’m dedicating this blog to my ongoing public history autodidacticism.

I also work in a small museum that’s in the process of professionalizing, and I’m professionalizing along with it. Cataloguing our collections and getting proper storage, checking up on RH levels, managing volunteers, doing communications and outreach, writing a mission statement, collections policy, bylaws, etc: as the sole employee of the museum, and the sole person with museum/archives experience, however small, I’m getting a crash course in public history.

Along with that, I’ve realized that I need to develop a much higher level of tech knowledge, especially around web design. I’m really excited about the digital history projects being developed, but beyond excitement, I can’t say much. My museum’s website is bottom-of-the-barrel, and I’d like to develop something I can at least point visitors to this blog to without embarrassment. So expect this blog to a) start looking more sophisticated eventually and b) develop more ease at talking about museum informatics.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to joining your conversations!