Public history is our history. Public history is your history.

A message from IPH Director Lisa Goff, Associate Professor of English and American Studies

How history is remembered is critical for knowing ourselves and for understanding our place in the community, the nation, and the world. Through history, we bear witness to the intersections of past, present, and future. Historians interested in "public history" have a special responsibility to interpret history in ways that acknowledge both the failures and the successes of the American experiment.

The Institute for Public History, founded at UVA in 1996 by Emeritus Professor Phyllis K. Leffler, supports students, scholars, public history organizations, and the general public in their efforts to achieve a more richly textured historical knowledge. It prioritizes projects that illustrate perspectives about the past that have gone unacknowledged, particularly projects which expand beyond the use of written documents to include material culture, oral history, and digital archives. The Institute is dedicated to the wide sharing of historical information beyond the university community.

Projects include:

  • 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.
  • Take Back the Archive: A public history project created by UVa faculty, students, librarians, and archivists. It is meant to preserve, visualize, and contextualize the history of rape and sexual violence at the University of Virginia, honoring individual stories and documenting systemic issues and trends.
  • 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.
  • 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).