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Public History at Oklahoma State University

We go all in...
The Department of History at Oklahoma State University offers a Master of Arts degree in History with an emphasis in Public History. The PhD program includes a minor field in Public History.
Specialized training in Public History prepares students for careers in and outside of academia. Our graduates work at archives, museums, historical societies, and universities across the country. Strengths of Public History at OSU include: historic presevation, museum studies, cultural resouces management, interpretive planning, public policy research, expert witness, consulting, and archives management.


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Museums

The Public History program at OSU offers numerous opportunities for students with interest in learning how museums work through strong partnerships with institutions throughout the state. We work with local museums, including the Stillwater Museum of History at the Sheerar and OSU Museum of Art, and continue to build relationships with institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Ponca City, Guthrie, Enid, and many others. Unique opportunities at OSU include the chance to serve on the Stillwater Museum of History Board of Directors, design and implement new or temporary exhibits, and earn a Museum and Curatorial Studies Certificate in conjunction with a degree in Public History. We work closely with the Department of Art History to administer certificate coursework.
Interior of the Stillwater Museum of Art with dark brown wood floors, white walls. Colorful artwork hangs from the walls. Items are in white pedestals under display cases.

Projects

Public History training at OSU is hands-on, immersive, and promotes teamwork. We work with partners throughout the state to identify and create meaningful projects that serve our students, institution, and community partners. Public History graduate students are engaged in creating exhibits at OSU Tulsa, OSU Stillwater, and the Stillwater Museum of History. Recently, Public History students worked together to produce a comprehensive report documenting the identities of more than thirty individuals and organizations named on the historic stained glass windows of Vernon A.M.E. Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a monument of enormous importance to preserving the history and memory of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The program is currently undertaking a long-term project related to the Booker T. Washington School Building in Stillwater, one of only three remaining architectural examples of a historically Black school in the state.
Yellow, green, and red stained glass window at Vernon AME church.

Internships

A full-time internship is a cornerstone of Public History training at OSU. We work with our students individually to develop options for internships that lead to hands-on training in their desired area of interest. Public History students have worked in a wide range of institutions, including the Oklahoma History Center, Stillwater Museum of History, Oklahoma Territorial Museum, and Oklahoma Humanities Council. Public History students have engaged in a broad variety of internships, from working as a Historical Site Interpreter at Fredericksburg Battlefield National Military Park in Virginia and a fully-costumed Living History Interpreter at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Park in Texas. Our students are currently engaged in oral history internships with the Oklahoma Humanities Council, documenting the history of Stillwater’s historic Booker T. Washington School, and a prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship in Tulsa.
A female student with brown hair stands outside in 19th century rural period dress. A wild turkey stands next to her.

Coursework

Public History coursework is grounded in the study and training of practicing history. All of our Public History graduate students complete standard courses required of all history graduate students, including Historical Methods, readings and research seminars, and an intensive Introduction to Public History seminar. Remaining coursework leaves room for students to explore individual areas of interest, including Museum Studies, Historic Preservation, Digital History and Oral History. We work other departments and institutional partners, including the departments American Studies, Art History and Geography, and the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program. Many of our students engage in cross-listed courses.
A female student with shoulder-length brown hair  sits at a computer with headphones as she processes oral histories.

 

A man with brown hair wearing a blazer, tied, and beard stands outside next to a brick building.

"Being part of OSU's Public History program has opened so many doors for me as a first generation and non-traditional college student. My identity as a non-binary Oklahoman is not only accepted but embraced by faculty, staff, and students. I have had the privilege of working on meaningful projects for communities I am a part of or care deeply about. The Public History program has helped me leverage my talent, skills, and passion areas while connecting me to pivotal people in academic and community settings. I am proud of the projects I have had the pleasure of working on and I know they will have a lasting impact in the community, an absolute dream for a Public Historian!"

- Arlowe Matthews
M.A. Student

 

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