How history is remembered is critical for knowing ourselves, our communities, our society, our nation, and our nation's place in the world. Through history, we bear witness to the intersections of past, present, and future. Historians interested in public knowledge have a special responsibility to promote ways to understand a collective history and heritage that is representative of the diversity in our midst. Collectively, we have a duty to remember both the difficulties and the triumphs of the human experience.

The Institute for Public History, founded in 1996 at The University of Virginia, exists to help organize students, scholars, public history organizations, and the general public in their divergent efforts to obtain a richly textured historical knowledge. It also has a goal of developing specific projects which illustrate multiple perspectives about the past that often go unacknowledged, particularly projects which expand beyond the use of written documents to include material culture and oral history.

Through its websites on a variety of distinct projects, the Institute participates in the wide sharing of historical information beyond the university community.

Projects include:

  • Explorations in Black Leadership: Videotaped interviews of African-American leaders, conducted by Civil Rights historian Julian Bond. These oral histories focus both on the historical circumstances of individuals' lives and on the factors critical to their achievements.
  • Summer Internship Program: An opportunity for University of Virginia students to experience the fields of public history through direct, hands-on, summer work. Sites include historic houses, museums, libraries, public policy organizations, and The University of Virginia.
  • The University History Project: A compendium of special research projects (The View from Here), individual stories of alumni (The Alumni Lawn Survey; The Women's Survey), and materials related to the study of history (The History of the University of Virginia in the 20th Century).
Last updated: June 2005