SHA Grad Council #TakeoverTuesday

Some thoughts about public history work and graduate education, compiled for the Southern Historical Association’s Graduate Council with my good friend Mandy Higgins

#TuesdayTakeover Storify Link

My #publichistory thesis:

Public History requires creating your classroom before you get to teach in it.

Building a public history classroom means attracting your audience and delivering a lesson in an engaging form that retains them over the short and long term.
As grad students, we’re trained to convert new scholarship into undergraduate instruction.

This is entirely transferable to public history. What isn’t taught to history grads are soft skills and administrative follow through to create that teachable moment outside the university setting.

Public history is the work of fundraising, exhibit and program design, marketing, project management, networking, event planning, etc. to bring learners into your non-traditional classroom.

So, students need to learn the skills it takes to create opportunities to use our training as researchers and teachers and how to stay motivated and engaged when bureaucracy, funding, and politics make it tough to build and sustain the classrooms you want.


LongStoryShort: Caroline

Working with the LongStoryShort podcast team at the University of Kentucky, the Civil War Governors of Kentucky team recorded a long-form piece of audio journalism that explores race, emancipation, murder, and justice.


It’s 1862 and an ex-slave named Caroline has been convicted of infanticide in Louisville, KY. Some argue that she deliberately killed the child whereas others believe that the father’s reckless use of poison to kill nuisance animals resulted in the death of the toddler. Caroline’s future hangs in the balance as an all-white jury and pro-slave governors consider whether to execute or pardon her from the crime. Join Long Story Short as we speak to historians at the Kentucky Historical Society who are investigating this story as a part of their Civil War Governors of Kentucky project. You can find out more about the project by visiting this site: