Public History Courses


UCR offers a number of courses each year for the Public History Program. A sampling of these courses is listed below:

Family Histories and American Culture (HISA 126) – Explores experiences of family and kinship in the nineteenth-century U.S., especially in the context of Indian removal, racial slavery, and settler imperialism. Readings include family history, memoir, and historical monographs. Provides context for recent developments in genealogical research as they relate to American family history. Students conduct individualized research projects.

Museum Research and Interpretation (HIST 262) – Principles and methods of historical research in material culture; museum interpretation of artifacts; general orientation to the role of the historical curator.

Museum Interpretation Practicum (HIST 262L) – Supervised research and interpretation in a museum.  Past practicums have included work at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum and in-depth analysis of historic house practices throughout southern California. 

Archival Management (HIST 263) – Theory and practice of archival management; history of archives; professional ethics.

Archival Management Practicum (HIST 263L) – Supervised research and administrative experience in an archive.  Students have completed their practicums at such institutions as the National Archives’ Richard Nixon Presidential Library and the Smiley Library in Redlands, California.

Historic Preservation (HIST 260) – History and theories of historic preservation; approaches to the study of the built and natural environment; public policy and instruments of historic preservation in the urban setting. Includes field trips to local and regional historic sites and structures.

Preservation Conservation Practicum (HIST 260L) – Supervised training in the National Register nomination process and in development of the conservation management plan, with independent research projects in either conservation or preservation. Projects change and have included a survey of modern cultural and historical resources in Riverside (in concert with the City of Riverside Department of Planning), a student-led production of an Historic Structures Report for the Harada House in Riverside (in concert with the Getty Conservation Institute and Riverside Metropolitan Museum), in-depth analyses of historic house conservation practices throughout southern California, and a variety of other historical research, materials analysis, and writing projects in preservation and conservation.

Conservation Science and Historical Objects (HIST 261) – Principles and methods of conservation science related to historical artifacts; introduction to conservation practice in selected categories of objects; seminar and laboratory.

Materials for Public History (HIST 264) – Introduces students to primary materials for public history and its central historical problems and historiography. Also discusses debates within the field.

Professional Practice for the Public Historian (HIST 402) – Focuses on themes affecting the management of archives, museums, cultural resources, and historic preservation. Students study sources and documents and present findings through an original research paper or museum, archival, or preservation project.

Research Seminar in Public History (HIST 265A/B) – Focuses on themes affecting the management of archives, museums, cultural resources, and historic preservation. Students study sources and documents and present findings through an original research paper or museum, archival, or preservation project. Past projects have focused on heritage tourism, clothing exhibits used to address class and race issues, children’s history museums, the mythic past of southern California, the history of missions in Southern California and their impact, and monument and memorial commemoration.

Oral History Methods and Theory (HIST 238A/B) – A study of oral history methods, theory, and practice. Students discuss readings and develop oral history projects and questions. Students conduct interviews, transcribe, and produce a paper which utilizes the oral history interviews. Includes discussion of final interviews, transcripts, analysis, and paper of each student. Past projects include an examination of “community” among Chinese Americans in Orange County, California, interviews with the staff of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, and an in-depth interview with the faculty and staff of the Cal State Fullerton Oral History Program.

Documentary Source Study (HIST 240 (E-Z)) – Introduction to the scholarly handlings oftexts, whether ancient or modern, including inscriptions, manuscripts, and archival documents. Instruction in the methodologies, tools, sources, and the editing and use of texts in history. Analysis of archival structure and organization and of questions of document authorship, provenance, paleography, language and syntax, internal structure, and variant texts.

Theory and Methods in History (HIST 254) – Studies the evolution of the discipline in history by exploring theories, philosophies, and methods that are used in historical explanation. Course offerings include “Approaches to Visual and Material Culture” and “Approaches to Public Culture, History and Memory” among other topics of interest to public historians.

Research Seminar in Nature, Space, and Place: Environmental and Spatial Approaches to History (HIST 287A/B) – Surveys historical literature and methodologies involved in spatial and environmental analyses of the past, examines technical and methodological issues involved in using spatial documents (maps), and discusses applications of historical research to environmental remediation. Students work on a research paper. Past projects include an examination of the contestation of space and place in San Juan Capistrano’s historic preservation efforts, and an analysis of the changing preservation and interpretation of Colonial Williamsburg.


A variety of graduate seminars and upper-division undergraduate classes in other departments that are frequently useful for public historians include, but are not limited to, the following:

Art and Society: Patrons and Museums (AHS 134) – Explores how patrons and museums have influenced the production and reception of art. Topics include patronage, collecting, and audience for art in Renaissance Italy; modern American megapatrons, such as the Gettys and Rockefellers; and multimedia museum programs used to educate a wider public in the visual arts.

The Anthropology of Tourism (ANTH 119) – Surveys the central problems and issues in the anthropological study of tourism. Main topics include the place of tourism in the global economy, the impact of tourism on cultural identity and culture change, environmental issues in tourism development, and tourism as a form of cross- and multicultural communication.

The Modern City (AHS 178) – Examines the modern metropolis from the Industrial Revolution to the present. Explores the history and theory of modern urbanism through case studies of metropolitan areas with a rich urban culture, architecture, and morphologic features. Investigates approaches to the problems of the large urban agglomeration in the context of social, political, and cultural conditions. Cross-listed with URST 178.

Modern Architecture (AHS 184) – Modern architecture and its sources from 1800. Cross-listed with URST 184.

Visual Culture and Art History (AHS 187) – Examines the broader concept of “visual culture” as it relates to the history of the visual arts. Focuses on four conceptual areas: visuality, identity, media culture, and politics/ethics. Cross-listed with FVC 187.

History and Ideology of the Museum (AHS 252) – From princely collection to public museum: a history of collecting and the evolution of the museum as a cultural institution in the western world. An investigation of sources, documents and historiography complemented by a study of museums and collections in the Los Angeles area.

Seminar in Modern Architecture (AHS 278) – Selected topics in the history and theory of nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture and urbanism.

Seminar in New Media (AHS 282) – Selected topics in the history and theory of photography, film, video, and digital media. Course is repeatable as topics change.

Seminar in History of Photography (AHS 283) – Selected topics in the history of photography, with an emphasis on new theories and histories of photographic practice. Students encouraged to do research projects drawing on the collections of the UCR/California Museum of Photography.

Getty Consortium Seminar (AHS 285) – An intramural seminar at the Getty Research Institute.

Anthropology of Art (ANTH 102) – Anthropological approaches to the study of art in traditional non-Western societies. Through specific readings and case studies from four geographic regions (North America, Southeast Asia, Oceania, and West Africa), the dynamic role of art in traditional societies is illustrated.

Introduction to Visual Anthropology (ANTH 103) – An introduction to the rapidly growing field of visual anthropology. Examines the similarities and differences between ethnographic film, critical studies, and written ethnographies. Explores the politics of representing other cultures visually.

Dating Methods in Archaeology and Paleoanthropology (ANTH 116) – A descriptive introduction to Quaternary physical dating methods and their application in archaeology and paleoanthropology.

History of New World Archaeology (ANTH 117B) – A review of the intellectual, social, and historical background to the development of prehistoric and historic archaeology of the colonial and industrial New World (Western Hemisphere and Oceania). Particular attention is given to the evolution of ideas about prehistoric and historic chronology.

Origins of Cities (ANTH 118) – Explores new forms of social, economic, and political organization that developed with the advent of cities. Examines case studies of the rise of urbanism in both the Old and New Worlds to investigate how and why cities emerged and consolidated.

Social Meanings of Space (ANTH 173) – Examines the range of meanings attached to spaces and places, from small-scale expressions such as houses to larger ones such as cities and landscapes. Explores how spaces can reflect and foster social conflict or social unity. Through a study of diverse cultural traditions, considers both the architecture and occupied but “unbuilt” spaces in ancient and current societies.

Space and Place in Archaeology (ANTH 258) – Examines concepts of space and place in archaeology. Explores how spaces can reflect and foster social conflict or unity through studies of diverse cultural traditions. Considers both the architecture and occupied but unbuilt spaces in ancient and current societies.

Seminar on History and Memory (ANTH 266) – Explores how societies remember, forget, and give meaning to the past through diverse forms of expression in national and transnational contexts. Examines contestations over historical representations and narrations, as well as the ways in which history and memory are shaped and contested by competing claims to power, legitimacy, and authenticity.