Society of Public Historians
Wichita State University

Who We Are:

The Society of Public Historians promotes the many ways in which historical research and study can help and inform the general public. The Society is a student organization affiliated with the Public History Program at Wichita State University. Membership is also open to professionals and interested persons in the community.

What We Do:

The Society sponsors social events, educational opportunities, and service projects in the community. Recent social events have included movie nights (featuring films on historical topics, of course), holiday parties, and informal gatherings at local eating establishments. Social events are times to get together and share experiences. They are also opportunities to introduce new students or professionals to the Wichita historical community. Society members have a tradition of frequenting local restaurants and learning about community history through food. Educational opportunities have ranged from "behind the scenes" tours of local museums to sponsoring panels at academic conferences. In October of 2002, for example, students from the Society of Public Historians set up a panel on the benefits and pitfalls of E-Bay for museums for the joint conference of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association and the Kansas Museums Association. Past Society field trips have been to museums and historical organizations in Anthony, El Dorado, Salina, Lindsborg, Hutchinson, Topeka, Kansas City, and Wichita. Recently, the Society of Public Historians has established a scholarship program to encourage students to attend academic and professional conferences or to conduct research for their thesis. Contact the Society president or Public History Director Jay M. Price for more details. The Society also believes in supporting local historical activities and encouraging an awareness of history in the community. Society members have worked on projects from historic preservation work in downtown Anthony to doing historical research for museums in Salina, Newton, and El Dorado. Members of the society have met with students at colleges such as Pittsburg State University, Southwestern College, and Newman University. In addition, members have assisted with local History Day events, the Phi Alpha Theta history honor society at Wichita State University, and the Kansas Museums Association annual meeting. Earlier in 2002, the organization sent several oral histories to the D-Day museum in New Orleans.

Who can join?

Anyone interested in presenting history to the public can join. The organization includes museum professionals, historic preservationists, archivists, scholars of local and community history, oral historians, reenactors and living history presenters, and popular culture buffs. Membership is open to all Wichita State University students but associate membership is open to anyone with an interest in public history. Because the organization is affiliated with Wichita State University, only WSU students can be officers.

How much does it cost?

Annual dues are just $10.00

How is the Society of Public Historians different from Phi Alpha Theta?

The two organizations both have history as their focus and there many opportunities for the groups to work together. In fact, the Society of Public Historians encourages its members to also join Phi Alpha Theta. A number of individuals are active in both groups. Phi Alpha Theta is a college honor society with requirements for membership such as grade point average and completion of a certain number of history credit hours. Phi Alpha Theta keeps students involved with academic historical scholarship and sponsors guest speakers on given topics. The Society of Public Historians concentrates more on history as it is practiced in the museum, archival, and historic preservation communities.

Are there any qualities that the Society of Public Historians encourages in its members?

Passion for history is the first and most important requirement for membership! A willingness to explore is a must. We also strongly encourage creativity and curiosity. We try to learn from each others' experiences and backgrounds. Networking is a critical activity for any public historian and the group tries to provide as many opportunities to network as possible. Of course, a sense of humor is always helpful!

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