This page lists the courses currently offered by the Archives and Public History program in the recommended curricular sequence. See also the list of outside courses that might be of interest to Archives and Public History program, or see more information about the program requirements. Students may also choose to take courses in the Moving Image Archiving & Preservation program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, or in the Museum Studies Department.
- Introduction to Archives
Introduction to the theory and practice of managing public, private, and institutional archives in the United States. Includes a historical overview of recordkeeping and archives, introduction to bibliographic resources, appraisal, arrangement and description, reference, collection strategies, and the development of the USMARC AMC format.
- Introduction to Public History
This course reviews the history, theories, and methodologies of public history from its 19th-century origins through the present.
- Creating Digital History
Historians who work with the public, as archivists and public historians do, have a particular need to be comfortable with digital tools and aware of digital issues. This course gives students a basic grounding in the technological skills needed to conduct online historical research and to present the results of historical research online. It also introduces students to issues in digital history such as copyright and intellectual property, how the Web changes the relationship between historians and audiences, and the problems and opportunities of information abundance. Students will research a historical topic of their own devising, producing both an annotated bibliography and an online archive and exhibit.
Semester 1 or 3
- Introduction to Preservation and Reformatting
Overview of principles and practices of archives preservation. Examines the physical composition of archival materials in all formats, causal agents that contribute to archival deterioration, the application of appropriate preservation and conservation methods, and various reformatting and rehousing techniques, including digitization. Explores the ways in which archivists select material for preservation, perform condition surveys, develop environmental controls, and formulate disaster planning and recovery programs. Use and access considerations are addressed, as are thetechnical aspects and limitations of various preservation options.
- Historical Editing Seminar
This seminar in historical editing is designed to introduce students to the theories, practices and problems in editing, digitizing, and publishing historical documents. Students will apply lessons from readings in the development of an edited collection drawn from the Margaret Sanger papers. Students will be organized into groups and create mini-digital editions of a selection of Sanger papers, complete with all prefatory material, transcriptions, annotation, key word list/index/ search methods and other non-textual elements.
- The Historian and the Visual Record
Though historians have long depended upon texts, they are increasingly turning to objects and images to enrich their understanding of the past. Visual and material evidence allows historians to recover aspects of the past that go unrecognized by documents. Such evidence enables scholars to verify or question longstanding assumptions in the field and inspires new kinds of questions. Thanks to the digital revolution, historical objects and images are more accessible than ever before. This course will familiarize students with a wide range of images and objects, and will arm them with a variety of approaches they can apply to such sources. Students will explore the history of New York City through analysis of visual and material evidence, and will consider the strengths and weaknesses of secondary literatures that rely upon these sources. The class will also discuss techniques for cataloguing and preserving visual and material records, and listen to the perspectives of professionals engaged in such work. Throughout, students will evaluate the potential and perils of these kinds of historical records, and consider how and why scholars have consulted (or ignored) such sources as they study the American past.
Semester 1, 2, or 3
- Readings in Archives and Public History (independent study)
Directed individual or small-group readings concerning a selected topic involving public history or archival theory and practice, developed in conjunction with the course instructor.
- Research in Archives and Public History (independent study)
Directed individual or small-group readings, research, and writing concerning a selected topic involving public history or archival theory and practice, developed in conjunction with the course instructor.
- Topics in Archives and Public History
In-depth reading, discussion, exercises, and assignments on one important aspect of archives or public history. Examples include the historian and the visual record, material culture, history and public policy, oral history, historical documentaries, archival systems, archiving and preserving digital media, archiving and preserving photographic collections, and archives in the age of Web 2.0.
- Oral History, Labors of Waste, and the Value of Knowledge
This class uses oral history to consider the role of unappreciated labor and invisible knowledge in an urban setting. Working in collaboration with current and former members of New York City’s Department of Sanitation, we will explore the dynamics of a historically significant work force to consider overlooked elements of the city’s past, to become acquainted with the complexities of a vital but largely hidden infrastructure, and to uncover narratives that reveal a dynamic, culturally rich, and often unseen community. This class is run through the Draper Program and is not cross-listed with Archives and Public History.
- Approaches to Public History
Public historians build bridges between the work of academic historians and the interests of audiences who reach far beyond college classrooms. Through readings, media, visits by working public historians, and project work, this course explores the intellectual and pragmatic issues public historians face as they build those bridges in a variety of settings from the brick-and-mortar precincts of museums and public sites to the vast digital reaches of the internet.
- Internship Seminar
Students enrolled in this course complete a 120-hour practicum at a selected archival repository or public history site.
- History in the New Media
This course will introduce the ideas, techniques and complexities of creating digital history texts and web sites. It will introduce standards and best practices for digitization and explain the basic steps to designing and implementing digital projects in an archives or public history setting. The focus of the course is not on technical work, but on the intellectual work of designing digital projects.
- Institutional Archives
Focuses on the concepts, practices, and concerns related to the management of institutional archives, that is, those records documenting an institution itself. Examines the organizational leadership role of the archivist; the records and information needs of businesses, nonprofits, universities, and governments; records management theory and practice; the legal and ethical frameworks for records and archives; and the administration of electronic records programs.
- Advanced Archival Description
This course is designed to provide students with an understanding of advanced archival descriptive techniques. Focuses on the development and use of bibliographic standards to create and exchange data concerning historical records. Particular emphases include the MARC AMC format; introduction to such Web-compatible technologies as Standard Generalized Markup Language and Extensible Markup Language; the history, development, and future of Encoded Archival Description; and the administrative and technical considerations involved in digital reformatting.
- Research Seminar (capstone)
Students enrolled in this course will either a) write an article-length essay ready to be submitted to a journal, b) build an online archive and/or exhibit, c) prepare a significant print or online edition of historical documents, or d) finish another substantial original project to be published in print, published online, or otherwise made publicly available. Students work independently but meet periodically in a group to share their progress.