Public History

As a department at a public university in the D.C. area, one of our missions is to engage the public in a conversation about the past. This effort starts with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. The center’s founding purpose was to use digital media to broaden access to historical materials and to equip the general public to practice history on their own. Most of its projects are designed with that purpose in mind. Examples include the September 11 Digital Archive, which is the leading digital repository of material related to the events of 9/11/2001; The Papers of the War Department, a searchable database of scanned documents that provides access to a treasure trove of materials for studying the early decades of U.S. history; and Zotero, an open-access software tool that enables users to gather and organize their sources and share the results of their research. Many of the center’s projects are the product of collaborations with public institutions, such as the Smithsonian and George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Our commitment to public engagement goes beyond RRCHNM. Each year the department sponsors lectures by eminent historians that are open to the public. We also actively encourage our graduate and undergraduate students to obtain internships at local museums, archives, and historical sites. These experiences give students a "hands-on" way to learn about history as well as gain valuable job credentials. Most of our faculty members also routinely give lectures to local organizations or groups, such as the Osher Lifelong Learning Center, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Rotary Club. Faculty members have also been featured on CSPAN, PBS's THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, and other radio and television broadcasts.