Celebrating 40 Years of The Public Historian

Znanstveni časopis “The Public Historian” (“Javni povjesničar”) obilježava 40. godišnjicu izlaženja (1978-2018).


Forty years ago, G. Wesley Johnson, a historian of colonial West Africa, penned the first of what would become scores of Editor’s Corners (at the time, “Editor’s Prefaces”) to launch the first issue of The Public Historian. Two years before, he, Robert Kelly, and Otis Graham had obtained a Rockefeller Foundation grant for the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to train historians for public and private sector careers beyond conventional academic employment. They entered into a conversation about the future of the historical profession that The National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, the American Historical Association, and others also participated in. Johnson and his colleagues helped coin the term “public history.” The first national meeting for the newly named field occurred in Montecito, California in 1979, and the incorporation of the National Council on Public History followed in 1980. Over the decades, the work has expanded to include annual conferences, mini-cons, a widely read blog (History@Work), the development of an International Federation for Public History, book series in the field from scholarly presses such as the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Rowman & Littlefield, and an explosion of training programs, today numbering more than 150 at the graduate level across the United States and abroad. Our publisher, University of California Press, marks its 125th anniversary this year, and we here collaborate on a special offering for our readers–free digital access to twenty-four of the most significant, enduring, and widely read essays we’ve published since 1978, ranging from that seminal year to 2017. Thank you for supporting The Public Historian and the National Council on Public History. Enjoy!