The Public Historian

From the November 2015 Editor's Corner

How do we hear history? Or better, how does history reside in sound—angry words, elegiac music, rolls of distant thunder, a gunshot outside the window, a thousand voices raised in protest—in our memory, and how might we summon those memories in the interests of hearing, interpreting, and writing public history? Or, in this special issue’s guest editor Karin Bijsterveld’s words, “How can [public historians] offer their audiences access to sounds of the past, and unravel the shared or contested meanings these sounds had in the ages forgone? How can such an auditory history create new forms of public engagement with and access to the past, and how does this contribute to our knowledge of history at large?” 

“Auditory history,” as this issue came to be called, aims to help us develop tools to solicit, analyze, and represent the “sound of the past” to our various publics in contemporary life. As auditory history becomes part-and-parcel of our profession, this collection of seven essays delivers state-of-the-art coverage. Ranging from elicitation techniques for creating “aural” archives to the interpetation of radio and video recordings, from the ethical questions embedded in the use of mental health interviews to the employment of sound to enrich the diachronic nature of museum exhibits, from the creation of “soundscapes” to enhance visitor experience in digital web-based deployments to the role of sound in mobilizing political activism (in this case, resistance to supersonic aerial transport sound polution), and finally, discussion of an emerging hisrtoriography of sound, public historians from all sectors will find much to please the “mind’s ear.”  

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The Public Historian: 37 (4)

Vol. 37 No. 4
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ISSN: 0272-3433
eISSN: 1533-8576
Frequency: Quarterly
Published: February, May, August, November


About The Journal

Since 1978, The Public Historian has made its mark as the definitive voice of the public history profession, providing historians with the latest scholarship and applications from the field.

The Public Historian publishes the results of scholarly research and case studies and addresses the broad substantive and theoretical issues in the field. Areas of public history covered in the journal include public policy and policy analysis; federal, state, and local history; historic preservation; oral history; museum and historical administration; documentation and information services; corporate biography; exhibition, interpretation, and public engagement, and public history education. In addition, the journal publishes reviews of exhibits, historical films, media productions, videos, and digital projects. Those interested in serving as a reviewer for the journal should submit a Reviewer Application and visit the Info for Reviewers page.

The Public Historian is sponsored by the National Council on Public History and the University of California, Santa Barbara with the support of Rutgers University–Camden.