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Why should you become a historian? What are the challenges and rewards? What do historians really do? While our capstone course HIS 490 will answer all of these questions, most students leave this until the last year at UWL. Try to take the course earlier -- the second semester of your junior year -- and in the meantime, use the resources on this page to explore your career options in history.
While many UWL History Department students are enrolled in a secondary education program and subsequently become Social Science, History, or Civics teachers, there are many other alternatives. As with any Liberal Studies major, there are many possibilities. UWL History graduates are active in all types of endeavors, in journalism, public history, law, public administration, the foreign service, and higher education. A history degree provides you with many marketable skills such as communication skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening; skills in analytical, logical, and critical thinking; knowledge of the development and interaction of human cultures; understanding of concepts, ideas and systems of thought that underlie human activities; understanding of and sensitivity to cultural diversity in the world, as well as the variety of human experience; understanding of the social, political and economic frameworks of societies within the global context; as well as an understanding of nature, including the role of science and technology in environmental and social change.
Check out what these professional historians have to say on the topic:• Blackey, Robert. Why Become a Historian? Ten Essays . . . • Stearns, Peter N. Why Study History?
For more information, consult publications about the history profession, such as:• Gardner, James B. and Peter S. LaPaglia. Public History: Essays in the Field. Melbourne, Fla.: Krieger Publishing Company, 1999.• Gustafson, Melanie. Becoming a Historian: A Survival Manual. Washington, D.C.: The Committee on Women Historians and the American Historical Association, 2003.• Kammen, Carol. On Doing Local History: Reflections on What Local Historians Do, Why, and What it Means. Nashville TN: The American Association for State and Local History, 1996.• National Council on Public History. A Guide to Graduate Programs in Public History.• Schulz, Constance, Page Putnam Miller, Aaron Marrs, and Kevin Allen. Careers for Students of History. Washington, D.C.: The American Historical Association, the National Council for Public History, and the Public History Program of the University of South Carolina, 2002.
History advisors have copies of some of these texts or you can order them through your favorite bookstore or directly through the American Historical Association's publications catalog online: http://www.theaha.org/pubs. Additionally, you can consult the websites of the two major U.S. historical organizations, the AHA and the OHA:• The AHA or American Historical Association (http://www.theaha.org/)• The OAH or Organization of American Historians (http://www.oah.org/)Or, you could also consult the following websites for additional information about specific areas of specialization:****Not all of these sites have employment information, but we have listed them to give you an idea of the different settings where professional historians are presently working****• American Association for State and Local History (http://www.aaslh.org/)• American Association for the History of Medicine (http://www.histmed.org/)• American Association of Museums (http://www.aam-us.org/)• American Library Association (http://www.ala.org/ala/education/educationcareers.htm) • Association for Documentary Editing (http://www.documentaryediting.org/)• Association for Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums (http://www.alhfam.org/)• Association of American Publishers (http://www.publishers.org/)• Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (http://www.berksconference.org/)• Committee on Lesbian and Gay History (http://www.clghistory.org/)• Conference on Latin American History (http://h-net.msu.edu/~clah/)• Editorial Freelancers Association (http://www.the-efa.org/services/jobline.html)• H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online job list (includes fellowships!) (http://www.h-net.msu.edu/jobs/)• History Associates, Inc. (http://www.historyassociates.com/)• National Archives and Records Administration (http://www.nara.gov/)• National Coalition of Independent Scholars (http://www.ncis.org/)• National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (http://www.ncshpo.org/)• National Council for the Social Studies (http://www.ncss.org/)• National Council on Public History (http://www.ncph.org/)• National Historical Publications and Records Commission, NARA (http://www.archives.gov/nhprc/)• National Park Service (http://www.cr.nps.gov/history)• National Register of Historic Places, National Park Service (http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/)• National Trust for Historic Preservation (http://www.nthp.org/)• Oral History Association (http://alpha.dickinson.edu/organizations/oha/)• Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society) (http://www.phialphatheta.org/)• Smithsonian Institution (http://smithsonian.org/)• Social Science History Association (http://www.ssha.org/)• Society for History in the federal Government (http://www.shfg.org/)• Society of American Archivists (http://www.archivists.org/employment)• Society of Architectural Historians (http://www.sah.org/)• State Historical Society of Iowa (http://www.iowahistory.org/)• United States Office of Personnel Management (http://www.opm.gov/)• U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (http://www-tradoc.monroe.army.mil/historian/default.htm)• U.S. Department of State (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/)• Wisconsin Historical Society (http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/)
A more thorough listing of links to Professional Historical Societies affiliated to the American Historical Association can be found at: (http://www.historians.org/affiliates/index.htm)
Begin by visiting UW La Crosse's Career Services Center to explore your options and conduct a self-assessment. Think about your career motivations, your talents, and where you want to be in 5 or 10 years. Here are some career paths to consider: