College of Social and Behavioral Sciences


What is Public History?


Public History puts historians to work facilitating public interaction with the past. Public historians work to research and interpret the past for and with public audiences. This dynamic interaction brings a deeper understanding of history and illustrates why the study of history is relevant. Historians work to ensure that the understanding of the past - on which the public shapes its future - is factual, accurate, comprehensible, meaningful, and resistant to manipulation. 

Public History depends upon an interdisciplinary set of skills to create public engagement with the past. These skills include digital literacy, mapping and spatial analysis, interviewing, cataloging and archiving, interpretation and curation, construction and preservation, sustainability, and an understanding of how the public uses the past. 

Graduates of history programs can be found in the historic preservation and museum fields, in community history projects, in government agencies, even in private businesses, as well as within Universities. Whatever path our historians choose, they continue to raise professional standards and enhance the way people understand and interact with the past.

For more information on public history at UNI, please contact Dr. Cheryl Dong, Director of our Public History Program, via email:

Spring 2021 Public History Events

The Brutish Museums: a Conversation with Dan Hicks




"The Brutish Museums"  

Conversation with Dan Hicks, Oxford University



Please join us on Friday, April 16th, 2021 at 1 p.m. for a conversation with Dan Hicks about his book The Brutish Museums: the Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Resitution. 


This event is free and open to the public, taking place over Zoom. 


Sign up here to receive the Zoom link for the discussion.



Dr. Cheryl Dong, professor of Public History, organized this discussion with noted scholar, archeologist, and anthropologist Dan Hicks. 
He is Professor of Contemporary Archaeology at the University of Oxford, Curator at the Pitt Rivers Museum, and a Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford.







Graduates in History with an undergraduate minor or a graduate emphasis in public history have gone on to work in a variety of venues. Below is a list of recent placements. 

  • Carbon County Museum (Wyoming)
  • Cedar Falls Historical Society
  • Colorado State University History Master of Arts Program
  • Good Samaritan Society Corporate Archives
  • Grout Museum District
  • Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis Public History Master of Arts Program
  • John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum
  • St. Cloud State University History Master of Arts Program
  • University of Illinois  Master of Science Library and Information Science Program
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas Master of Arts Program
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro Doctoral Program
  • University of Texas, El Paso History Doctoral Program
  • Western Michigan University Master of Arts Program