Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Blog CCXIX (219): "The History Ph.D. as..." Series Revisited

"The History Ph.D. as...." series never died officially.  (In fact, you might see two new entries fairly soon.)  I just ran out of contacts and good ideas on how to structure some of the articles.  Other historians that blog, though, have been doing the same thing as me, and a couple of these essays are quite good.

The most commented on post in the eight year history of this blog was Blog XXXI: "The History Ph.D. as a Librarian."  Mark Danley, then of the University of Memphis and now at the U.S. Military Academy, wrote about the challenges and rewards of work in a library.  The blog of the American Historical Association has an article "A Historian in the Stacks: Finding a Professional Home in the Library" from Annie Johnson on much the same topic.  I like Danley's essay a lot, but Johnson, who works at Temple University, has written a pretty good essay as well.  Probably because she got her Ph.D. from USC. 

Two weeks before Danley wrote his post, Sarandis "Randy" Papadopoulos added to the same series with Blog XXIX (29): The History Ph.D. as a Government Historian: Still the “Improbable Success Story”?  Over at The Ohio State University, Mark Grimsley turned his blog over to a guest blogger, Frank Blazich, a colleague of Papadopoulos at the Naval History and Heritage Command.  Blazich's post "Beyond the Academic Cage: Observations of a New Federal Government Historian" discusses his experiences finding work outside of academia.

Geoffrey P. Megargee, a historian working at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, contributed to the series with "Blog XXXV (35): The History Ph.D. in the Museum."  Rachel Feinmark discusses her path to museum work and the role the Public Fellows Program of the American Council of Learned Societies played in that process with her article "Who’s Afraid of Being a Generalist? On Being a Historian outside the Academy," which appeared on the AHA's blog earlier this year.

Individuals interested in these topics should read the two "twined" essays.  I am both proud and grateful for the essays from Danley, Papadopoulos, and Megargee, but the postings from Johnson, Blazich, and Feinmark add to our understanding of how to make a career outside of a history department.

1 comment:

  1. I regret that another few years have passed since you wrote this follow-up and I did not reply, but thank you Nick for providing the forum to discuss this interesting issue. I too continue to think about that post, which is now almost ten years old.

    I might write it differently now. One part, though, still stands out and I continue to think about it:

    "The culture of graduate school does not really inculcate historians with a high view of librarianship as a profession. The experience of earning a graduate degree in history almost always does convey the importance of libraries – but not always librarians. At best most scholars see academic librarians as skilled helpers, people with arcane knowledge to assist navigating the maze of a research collection and for which scholars should be grateful. But they’re just that – helpers – not the people doing the work themselves. In other words, they’re not scholars. At worst they see librarians as a sort of clerical servant, not a collaborator, not a professional, and certainly not a colleague."

    So as we look back on it I'm curious where you, Nick, as historian and owner of the blog that facilitated this discussion stand on that.

    Are academic librarians your academic colleagues? Or you somewhere on that spectrum between seeing them as clerical helpers or skilled helpers? Or do you have some other view?