The Club has been useful as a
way of finding out what's going on in the world of History or in the
History Dept, as a way to socialize with some folks, and to create
resume items for having been a participant in various things. You do
not formal credentials as a major in History or Social Studies--you
just need to have some interest in historical ideas.
A lot of people teach history or social studies in middle and secondary schools. A few go to graduate school for specialized training, to become researchers and/or professors. Increasingly, people with History degrees are going into Applied History, or Public History. BSU is trying to meet these interests, with internships at the Beltrami County Historical Society, Minnesota Historical Society, History Day, historic sites, and other places where history is put forward for public enjoyment, information, and participation. The American Historical Association has created a miniguide with links called, "Careers in History." There are an amazing number of interesting fields for which a History degree can prepare you.
Interested in APPLIED HISTORY--the practice of history in the public sphere?
If you are considering a
career in public history, find out about historic preservation by
going to the National
Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Society of American Archivists now has student chapters. The
website for the North
Carolina State University Student Archivists of
America has numerous
links to archival info. Take a look at NCSU's Master
of Arts Degree in Public History,
which is one of many such programs in the U.S. The University
of California - Santa Barbara
pioneered academic training in Public History. The graduate program
there is excellent. And St.
Cloud State University
here in Minnesota has a Master of Arts in History/Public History.
A new site in Fall 2000 is from the public history teaching program at the University of Technology, in Sydney, Australia.
You can access numerous other applied history sites from the History Dept. main page (http://cal.bemidjistate.edu/history).
If you are thinking about GRADUATE SCHOOL, it is important to know what the "job market" is like in your area of interest. Diligence and discipline are required, and as in most of life there is no way to pre-determine the direction your career will go. Let's say you found that you love history, have some skill at it, and want to become even more skilled. You want to become adept at historical research, and combine that with college-level teaching because you enjoy intellectual interaction with people.
First determine your criteria in choosing a graduate program. You apply only to universities where you might really want to go; it costs money and time to apply, plus you have to get letters of recommendation from professors who always have to be reminded (ahem). So consider these factors as you consider your options. You will have to rank them for yourself:
* a program that includes an
exciting professorial focus on your specialized area of
interest and provides decent access to things that facilitate
your learning such as historical sources; research libraries; faculty
and grad student colleagues in affiliated fields; language training
opportunities; travel grants; places to gather with peers; and so
* a university that places graduate students in career positions (nobody can control the job market, but beyond that, and your own work and preparation, getting an academic job has a lot to do with the reputation of your major advisor, your department, and the university in general)
* a geographic location where you are interested in spending 5-8 years, but not living in permanently ("intellectual inbreeding" is the crass term for a History program that hires its own graduates in permanent positions)
* a place where you either get funded on-campus working as a graduate assistant (providing teaching, research, or administrative assistance), or find livable wages off-campus. There are similar concerns for a partner if you might bring someone with you
* an institution that, if it is sizable, has a graduate assistant union. Without one, there is nothing to prevent chaos and favoritism in the distribution of assistantships, or to insist on medical benefits for graduate employees, or otherwise regulate the terms and conditions of your academic employment. 5-8 years is a big chunk of your life; please don't spend that much time being told you are not worthy of institutional attention and respect.
There is an Association
for the Support of Graduate Students
and probably one or more graduate student organizations at every
major research institution in the United States.
For profiles of grad schools, check the Graduate School Guide OnLine and Peterson's Graduate Programs Database (the latter is curent as of academic year 1997-98).
For detailed info:
ia a website for graduate students and undergrads who are
prospective graduate students. It is sponsored by H-Net
with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (your tax
dollars at work).
This website includes information on getting into graduate schools, advice on being a successful graduate student, teaching tips, employment guides, and many other useful links. You do not need to be a member of H-Grad to utilize the majority of this information and H-GRAD welcomes visitors from all stages of graduate education (applicants, current students, faculty members, administrators).
H-GRAD also includes a
valuable discussion list for those working on graduate courses,
trying out ideas for their research, looking for roommates for trips
to academic conferences, and generally being collegial. Currently
enrolled graduate students who wish to join H-Grad to participate in
ongoing discussions regarding the many aspects of graduate school -
teaching, finding an advisor, creating a committee, juggling school
and family, negotiating the AHA - will find information at this
website about subscribing.
To get an idea about how
professional history positions are defined by looking at the weekly
job listings of the Organization
of American Historians.
And weekly listings of H-NET.
As well as the weekly listings for History in the Chronicle
of Higher Education.
These are places where professors and soon-to-be professors look for
You are correct if you have heard the academic job market is very tight. Whether or not you pursue such a career depends on how much it means to you, but you should be informed. You know that I and almost any junior professor hung in there and eventually got academic jobs. Not everyone does. Here is another professor's experience of CAREERS IN HISTORY. It is practical, passionate, and sometimes sobering. As I always say, if you do what you love, you'll probably end up loving what you do.