I'm a big fan of Wikipedia and I've been known to edit the odd article or two, but I'm having trouble with the "Public History" article. As of the time of writing, I am the latest person to have contributed to this article, but it's still not very good.
I thought it would be easy to spout off a few hundred words on what a public historian was, what they did, and conversely, who is not a public historian, but when I sat down to write I found it rather difficult to summarize. Should I explain what public history is by defining it as different from academic history? Or is this even true? Are history professors not also public historians, spouting history to undergraduate students with little or no previous academic background on the subject?
Is Mel Gibson, who has portrayed historical figures in films, a public historian?
Do you have to be associated with a museum or an archive to be a public historian? Do you have to be a paid professional, or are amateur geneologists practicing public history?
Do you have to publish to be a public historian?
So, I'm sending out a call for help. Please contribute to the "public history" article on Wikipedia. With your help, I may soon have a solid answer to give every time someone asks "what's that?" when I explain I'm in a Masters of Public History program.