Historians to Discuss The Future of Public History at UW

March 5, 2008
Black and white photo historic downtown Laramie general store
A former Laramie general store, the White House, advertises a sale for its 21st anniversary in this undated photo from the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center's Ludwig-Svenson collection.

The University of Wyoming will hold a symposium on the "Future of Public History" Monday, March 10, from 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Centennial Complex, 22nd and Willett Drive.

The event is open to the public. For an agenda and complete details, visit ahc.uwyo.edu/news/2008/publichistory.htm.

Local scholars will join historians from throughout the nation to discuss how history shapes understanding of the public arena and how the public arena, in turn, affects history.

"Although their academic work is important, historians do so much more than just talk to one another within the hallowed halls of their universities," says Mark Potter, Department of History chair at UW. "History that occurs in the public arena is crucial not just to us as historians, but for all of society, since history is part of our identity as a people."

The symposium will feature a keynote address by William Bryans, associate professor of history at Oklahoma State University and current president of the National Council on Public History. Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Department, the Truman Presidential Library and Museum, and the Veterans' Oral History Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will also talk about their ongoing projects and the changing landscape of public history.

Traditionally, the "big three" sub-fields in public history are archives, museum studies, and historic preservation, though the field is broad and spans all those areas where history and the public intersect, such as in publishing, the study of oral histories, and local and community history.

"The symposium will draw attention to the important work in these areas going on at UW and in our region and will highlight the latest trends in the field. We want to make sure our students are getting the best possible education in public history so that they'll be attractive to employers," says Potter.

The Department of History, American Studies Program, the American Heritage Center, the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wyoming Humanities Council co-sponsor the symposium.

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