Issues in Public History

Syllabus for HIST 595.M2: Issues in Public History
University of New Hampshire, Manchester
Spring 2016

Course Dates:26 Jan. – 10 May.
Class Meetings: W, 6-9 pm
Instructor:Prof. J. Parr

Course Description:This course will explore some key themes in public history. Topics will include an overview of the history of museums, digital history, material culture, oral history, and the treatment of history in popular culture.

Required Readings: There are four required books for this course, along with occasional supplementary readings posted on MyCourses. We will read all of these books. They are all available through the bookstore or third-party sources. Late receipt of books will not be grounds for a waiver of the late work policy. Please plan accordingly.


James Oliver Horton and Lois Horton, eds, Slavery and Public History: the Tough Stuff of American Memory (UNC, 2008).
Jessie Swigger, “History is Bunk:” Assembling the Past at Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village (Massachusetts, 2014).
William Gilson, Carved in Stone: the Artistry of New England Gravestones (Wesleyan, 2012).
Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and Ari Kelman, Battle Lines: a Graphic Novel of the Civil War (Hill and Wang, 2015).

Class Topics and Assignments: Follow this time table and come to class, having completed the assigned reading indicated for that day. I strongly encourage bringing the books for the other assigned reading with you on the dates they are assigned, so that you can have them available for consultation during discussion. In addition to the readings from our assigned textbooks, we will have occasional supplementary readings posted to MyCourses.

Date Topic Assignments
27 Jan Introductions

We will listen to JuntoCast Episode 1 in class

3 Feb History of Museums

Readings: History of the Wunderkammern; Keurs, “Museums: Between Enlightenment and Romaniticism; [both on MyCourses]; Begin reading Fetter Vorn and Kelman, Battle Lines.

Assignment: What would you include in your Wunderkammer? Use your cellphone or tablet’s camera to take pictures of things around the house you’d curate. Be Prepared to discuss. You do not need to write this assignment up.

10 Feb. History as Pop Culture

Reading: Battle Lines due. Read the Junto Interview with Kelman [On MyCourses]

Assignments: Please watch the short clips on Canvas. Ari Kelman will join us via Skype in class today. Please prepare at least 3 thoughtful questions for him.

17 Feb. Oral History

Reading: Richie, Doing Oral History, Chs. 1 & 2 ; Visit the Oral History Association Website (especially Principles and Best Practices)

Watch: Oral History in the Digital Age. Pick TWO of the ODHA essays and be prepared to discuss in class.

Case Study 1: Studs Terkel Archive; Women Who Rock; Houston History Project; Holocaust Survivor Vision/Voices. Pick ONE repository, and view 2-3 oral histories. Upload your write up to Canvas no later than the start of class.

24 Feb. Archives

Reading: Hamil, Archives for the Lay Person, Ch. 1; Welch, “Archives, Accessibility, and Advocacy,” Boles, “Just A Bunch of Bigots;” Northeast Document Center.

Watch: Tutorials [see MyCanvas]. Case Study 2 Pick a website of an archival repository. Come prepared to discuss its mission, collecting,institutional policies. Upload your write up to Canvas no later than the start of class.

2 Mar. Digital Stewardship

Readings: National Digital Stewardship Alliance website; NDSA Glossary; LeFurgy, “Life Cycle Models for Digital Stewardship;” James M. O’Toole, “On the Idea of Uniqueness,” The American Archivist[JSTOR]; Understanding Metadata.

Case Study 3: UVa; NARA; Hydra Project; Digital Library of America. Come prepared to discuss these different programs. You should also find, on your own, ONE additional case study to present in class. Upload your write up to MyCourses no later than the start of class.

16 Mar. History and Social Media

Readings: Djick,The Culture of Connectivity, Ch. 1; Stamp Act at 250 Twitter Feed; Lincoln’s Last Ride Twitter Feed; Benjamin Franklin’s World Podcast; The Junto and AAIHS.

Assignment: Pick 5 historical events that are known to you. Decide, in 140 words, how you would describe that event. Be creative! Bring your tweets to class with you.

23 Mar Material Culture

Readings: Ian Woodward, Understanding Material Culture, Ch. 1; Laurel T. Ulrich, The Age of Homespun, Ch. 3; Alexander, “Why Shoes?;” Begiato, “Controlling a Small World;” Georgina, “Object Lessons.” [On MyCanvas].

Listen: Kimberly Alexander, Fashion and 18th-Century Culture. Episode 24, Ben Franklin’s World Podcast

30 Mar. Websites

Readings: Kalfatovek, Creating a Winning Online Exhibit, Ch. 1; “Evaluating Websites;” 5 Open-Source Tools for Creating Online.

Case Study 4: Find ONE online digital history exhibit and be prepared to present it in class. Upload your write up to Canvas no later than the start of class.

6 Apr. Genealogy and Family History

Readings: Gilson, Etched in Stone [entire].

Case Study 5: Visit a local cemetery and take pictures of 5 pre-Civil War headstones, using your phone, tablet, or digital camera. Upload your case study to MyCourses no later than the start of class.

13 Apr Spatial Humanities & History

Readings: White, “What is Spatial History?:” “If you thought Apple’s maps were weird, look at these;” Thibeault, Visualization; View the three samples provided in the NY Times link. [On MyCanvas].

Case Study 6: Find 2 spatial history projects, aside from the examples provided, and be prepared to present it in class. Upload your write-up to MyCourses no later than the start of class.

In-Class Spatial Project: I am going to provide a map and some data for a short in-class mapping project. We will do this assignment collectively, as a class. You may work together.

20 Apr. Making a Museum Reading: Swigger, History is Bunk [entire]
27 Apr. Collections, Ethics, and Law Readings: Text of NAGPRA; Peabody Museum/NAGPRA in the Museum; British Museum blog/Mummies; TED Case Studies
3 May Slavery on Display

Reading: Horton, History and Slavery, Chs. 1, 3, 4 & 7, Epilogue; AfAmHistFail Twitter Feed [link on MyCourses].

Case Study 7: Please find, in a mainstream media source, an article pertaining to public history and slavery. Come prepared to discuss it. For this assignment, you only need to upload the link to the article.

Assignment Descriptions:

Participation: Classes are interactive and centered on discussion. You are expected to come prepared, with the reading done, and to participate in each class meeting, and to make at least a few meaningful contributions per course. Pleased bring the readings with you to class each day. Habitual tardiness, absence and/or disruptive behavior (including texting) will negatively affect this part of the grade.

Case Studies: At certain points in the semester, you will be asked to bring your own case studies to class. A write up of 250 words should be provided for each case study. Please use complete sentences, proper spelling, and grammar, and provide links for your case study.  For the cemetery assignment, you should provide the name of the cemetery, and an embedded picture of each of the headstones you selected, as well as a caption that discusses the genealogical data, iconography, and other observations as modeled in Etched in Stone. There are a total of 7 case studies. The papers should be double-spaced, using a standard 12-point font. (i.e. No comic sans) They should use specific examples from the reading to support your points. You may use APA, MLA, or Chicago formatting for this course, but citations must be applied correctly. Citation is required for any content that is quoted, paraphrased, or material that is not common knowledge. A general guideline for “common knowledge” is that it can be found in at least 3 other sources. ALL WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS MUST BE UPLOADED TO CANVAS DROPBOX. ASSIGNMENTS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED BY EMAIL.

Twitter: You will pick 3 historical events with which you are reasonably familiar and decide how you would present it in a Tweet (140 characters or less). Be creative.

Spatial Project: We will do an in-class assignment using Google Maps and history. Further details available on MyCourses.

Exams:There are no exams in this course.

Grades: The assignments will be weighted as follows:

Assignments Percentage
Participation 20%
Case Studies 50%
Twitter Assignment 10%
In-Class Spatial Project 10%

Class Expectations:Please review the expectations and assignments carefully. Students are responsible for knowing and adhering to the conditions of the syllabus.

Academic Integrity: Students are expected to know and adhere with all UNHM policies concerning academic honesty. You should submit only your own work. Work may not be recycled from other courses. Students who are uncertain about citation practices should seek assistance from the Writing Center or Library Staff. Not knowing will not be considered a valid excuse for improper citation.

Checking email: You should get in the habit of checking your email regularly, and insuring that your Canvas profile is linked to an email account you use. I sent announcements, assignments, and other course materials via email. Students are responsible for knowing the contents of those emails. Please note that due to federal privacy laws and institutional policies, I cannot discuss grades over email.

MyCourses: Please make sure that you access MyCourses regularly. Much of the course material is on MyCourses.

Attendance: Attendance is required for this course. In the event you are unavoidably absent, it is your responsibility to get the notes from a classmate, then follow up with me if you have specific questions. Absent students are still responsible for timely submission of the work they missed. Absence will not be grounds for an automatic excusal of the late policy. Habitual absence and/or unpreparedness will negatively affect your grade.

Technology Use: Phone calls, texting, and web surfing are disruptive and disrespectful to your professors and fellow students, and are not permitted in class. Studies have also shown that students who use laptops in class tend to be distracted, miss important material, and earn lower grades. As such, I only permit the use of laptops and tablets for students who have a college-sanctioned accommodation, or who are serving as an official note taker. Phones should remain off and away during class, except in extenuating circumstances. If you are an emergency first responder or caretaker, you may have your cell on vibrate, but you must sit near the door and step outside to take the call. Students who violate this policy will lose credit for the day’s participation, and the instructor reserves the right to dock the final grades of repeated offenders by a half grade. Due to privacy concerns, no audio or video recordings can be made of the class. No exceptions.

Late Assignment Policy: Students are responsible for making sure they understand all expectations and keep track of deadlines. Each student is eligible for a one-time 24-hour, no questions asked grace period on one written assignment. You need to email me before the assignment is due to indicate that you are using your 1 late pass. After that, assignments will be accepted up to three days (including weekends) after the original due date for a 1/2 grade penalty for each day late. Waivers of the late penalty are only considered under extenuating circumstances, such as a hospitalization. I reserve the right to ask for documentation. Please note that if the assignment is not submitted in accordance with the instructions, it will be considered late.

Incompletes: Incompletes are awarded only for extenuated circumstances that are beyond the student’s control. I reserve the right to ask for documentation.

Classroom Citizenship: The classroom is a professional environment. Uncivil conduct towards other students or the professor is a violation of the student code of conduct and will not be tolerated. Please refrain from texting, side conversations, and any other behaviors that may detract from the learning environment for your classmates. As a courtesy to all, please do your utmost to arrive to class on time. Repeated violation of this expectation will negatively affect your participation grade. Please note that the use of e-cigarettes during class is prohibited.

Communication: Email is the fastest way to reach me. I respond to all messages within 24 hours of receipt, Monday through Friday. I check email occasionally on weekends, but may not respond quite as quickly. Please allow sufficient time for me to respond before emailing again. When emailing me, kindly use a subject heading that indicates which class you are email me about, and a salutation (i.e. Dear Professor Parr, not Hey). Emails should maintain a professional tone. If you’re feeling upset, or anxious, it’s often a good idea to hold off on email until you’re feeling better.

Grades: Most assignments will be graded within two weeks. As a general rule, grades are only changed in the event of a mathematical error. When graded assignments are returned, please take the time to read your feedback before coming to me with questions or concerns about grades. If you still have concerns about your grade after reading your feedback, please write me a memo, which includes a paragraph-length response that directly addresses each of your concerns raised by your feedback, using the assignment guidelines, and explaining why it merits a re-grade. I will take your concerns seriously, but there are no guarantees that your grade will be changed, and all decisions are final. Please note: I can only assign grades based on the quality of the final product, and cannot take effort, life circumstances or other factors into consideration. If you are unclear on the expectations for an assignment, it is your responsibility to ask for clarification in advance of the assignment’s deadline. You should bring any concerns about your grade to my attention within a week of receiving the graded paper back. Queries made thereafter will not be entertained.

Disability Support Services Statement: UHNM provides appropriate, reasonable accommodations to students who have documented learning, physical, cognitive, or psychiatric disabilities that may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet class requirements. Students with disabilities are encouraged to meet with the course instructor. All such conversations are confidential. To receive accommodations, students must contact UNHM’s disability services. Coordinator Jenessa Zurek may be reached at or (603) 641-4383. Please note that only students with faculty letters from the Disability Services are eligible to receive accommodations. Accommodations are not retroactive.