Doing History in Public: consultative conversations

1 May 2024

On 30 April, the Royal Historical Society held the first in a new series of consultative conversations to consider ‘Doing History in Public’. The series takes the form of evidence-gathering ‘conversations’ — between historians and specialist professionals in related sectors — to identify the resources and guidance most useful to support those ‘doing history in public’.

Three seminars will take place between April and September 2024. Each session will draw on the experience of practitioners working across a range of formats to identify common interests, concerns, priorities and requirements for historians working publicly. From these, the Society looks to develop resources and guidance that will support the practice of public history and the communication of research on public platforms.

The first session in the series, on 30 April, considered Doing History in Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. This brought together historians working with institutions in the GLAM sector, with curators, archivists and librarians responsible for academic engagement and collection promotion to a wide range of audiences.

Our panellists represented national museums, research libraries, private collections, and archives within the public sector.

Topics raised in this first conversation included collaborative working between academics and curatorial staff, audience engagement and communication, and the elements of successful and responsible public history.

Participants also began the work of identifying how the Society might best support the profession in Doing History in Public.

The next seminar in the series considers ‘Doing History in Print’, and brings together historians, journalists, and publishers to discuss attendees’ experience (positive and negative) of working with different forms of print media. Further details of the second conversation, which takes place on Thursday 20 June, will be announced shortly.