Public History @ OSU

I read recently that most blogs start off in a burst of enthusiasm that lasts long enough to post two entries. Then the enthusiasm dies and the blog languishes. It looks like that’s what I’ve done here, started something, then lost interest in it.

In fact, I’ve been so busy trying to arrange fishery history research project that I’ve had little time for the website or the blog. But that’s about to change, now that the website has been finalized. Three students at the Graphic Arts Department at Oregon State University put the website together for me, Beth Kerrigan, Joi Chang (Joi painted our fish) and Francisco Juarez

The other thing I’ve been busy with has been putting together a new class, an Introduction to Public History, which I will teach here in Corvallis during winter term, starting in January of 2010.

I’m hoping to get a version of the class far enough along to offer it on the web, which will allow me to work with some community college students on the Oregon coast in a research project to look at the development of fishing on the Oregon coast, especially after the 1930s.

What is public history?

What is public history? It is history produced by and for the public, history that is seen, heard, read and interpreted by a popular audience. It emphasizes non-traditional evidence and new ways of asking questions, and new ways of presenting information. Because the focus in on the public context of scholarship, it trains historians to reach audiences outside the traditional academic academy. It’s the perfect vehicle for looking at something as complex, dynamic, and multi-disciplinary as fishing.

What is Public History @ OSU? It is a framework for history projects that faculty and graduate students are currently pursuing. Our students will be working hand-in-hand not only our faculty, but with the archival staff at the Valley Library, and our partners in the community.

In the meantime, now that the site is up, I’m going to be making posts on a more regular basis. It’s my hope that anybody who is interested in contributing to the site, and to uncovering the history of commercial fishing in Oregon, will read and contribute their thoughts.

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