Welcome to the Public History Initiative (PHI) of the UCLA Department of History.

What is public history?

“Public history describes the many and diverse ways in which history is put to work in the world.” – NCPH  

Public history is a subject. It is the study of how societies remember. It is the study of how history is created, understood, and put to use, both now and in the past.

Public history is a practice. It is the act of communicating our historical expertise to audiences outside of the academy. It is the process of creating history in public spaces and in collaboration with community partners.

Public history makes clear that the past is not a static set of events. History is a process of creation, interpretation, and re-interpretation.

What is the Public History Initiative?

We train students in all aspects of public history. Our undergraduate courses engage students with cutting-edge research on the relevance of the past. We teach students how to communicate with broad audiences, and we foster core competencies and professional development for desirable career outcomes.

Our HistoryCorps program places undergraduate history students in credit-earning internships in museums, schools, cultural institutions and community organizations in the Los Angeles region.

The National Center for History in the Schools (NCHS), a division of the PHI, seeks to enliven the teaching of history at the university and K-12 level through publication and professional development resources and collaboration with educators.

We carry out pubic history research. We work at the forefront of public history research and communication. Our research is both local and international. We have current projects on imagining archives, the long history of essential work in California, and neighborhood histories/history as community activism.

We collaborate with community partners. We have partnerships with cultural institutions, community organizations, and advocacy groups throughout the Los Angeles region. These partnerships are integral to our work in training students and in producing high quality, inclusive public histories.