Public history is in the air now. The recent past president of the American Historical Association, Anthony Grafton, and the incoming president, William Cronon, have both put public history - the history practiced by museums, lilbraries, archives, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, the media, web sites, bloggers, and many independent scholars - back at the center of history as a scholarly discipline.
History departments around the country, including our department at Stanford, are renewing their efforts to train students for fulfilling careers in public history.
Here at the Bill Lane Center for the American West, public engagement has always been a central part of our mission. In the past year, we've found a vibrant new partner for public events in the California Historical Society in downtown San Francisco.
And we'd like to invite you to join us on the evening of Monday, May 7th, for a lively salon about public histories - the plural is intentional - with writer and independent scholar Rebecca Solnit, one of our best and most trenchant public intellectuals, and Anthea Hartig, executive director of the California Historical Society and a veteran of public historical preservation efforts. Renowned historian and Stanford professor Albert Camarillo will introduce the discussion, I'll moderate, and we hope you will add your own voice to the conversation in vigorous fashion.
The California Historical Society's famed mixologists will serve historical libations and hors d'ouevres will be served. The festivities will begin at 6pm. All we ask that you bring is your passion for public conversation about the place of western history in our lives today, and that you RSVP by following the link here.
When we began our collaboration with the California Historical Society last year, Anthea told me that their motto, like so many institutions that practice public history today is "relevance or die."
We hope you'll join us in bringing history to life.
RSVP here by May 3, 2012.
Anthea Hartig, Executive Director, California Historical Society
Rebecca Solnit, Independent Scholar and Writer
Albert Camarillo, Professor of American History; Leon Sloss Jr. Memorial Professor; Special Assistant to the Provost for Faculty Diversity in charge of the Faculty Development Initiative of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
Jon Christensen, Executive Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West