Applied history

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Applied history, also widely known as public history, is "the explicit attempt to illuminate current challenges and choices by analyzing historical precedents and analogues. Mainstream historians begin with an event or era and attempt to provide an account of what happened and why. Applied historians begin with a current choice or predicament and analyze the historical record to provide perspective, stimulate imagination, find clues about what is likely to happen, suggest possible interventions, and assess probable consequences."[1][unreliable source?] Applied history incorporates historical events in a hands-on environment encouraging historical analysis, investigation, museum studies, archival work, historic/heritage preservation, documentaries and firsthand experience.

Applied history courses are meant to teach history in a way to engage the pupil. It is taught to have the students question, reason and connect with history. Analysis of every event and reflection is highly encouraged. Students investigate history and dig for a deeper level of meaning behind events in history. Such courses stress the idea of museology or museum studies and heritage. Students learn from museum exhibits and displays and material culture and built heritage in their environment. They often participate in the curatorial process and help in conducting research for the museum. Their own perspective on the historic event is then formed and broadens their ideas for the subject. Students gain hands on experience and may even possibly handle historical documents, enriching their experiences with history. Archival work is the direct source, very different from learning from a textbook because they are interpreting the documents itself. Applied history teaches students to immerse themselves in history. Applied History is a course that makes students take on their own approach to history and analyze history to uncover a deeper meaning.

Programs of applied history can be found at universities and even some high schools. The course is meant to teach students and engage them in history. In some college programs that offer applied history, “Coursework includes expository writing, public speaking, museum administration, archives and manuscript preservation, archival records technology, and related subjects. Graduates may become museum curators, lecturers, administrators of historical sites, popular writers, or enter other careers that keep the public aware of its heritage.”


  • Percoco, James (October 1993). "History in the Making: The Development of a High School History Applied History Program". History News. 18 (5).