Syllabus: Public History Internship

fall 2020 @ suny brockport.

Welcome to HST 485 585 Public History Internship

The Public History Internship course is a chance to get real world experience in local (or regional) archives, museums, or other historic sites—or online through a virtual internship. The History Department has on-going relationships with local and regional institutions. Inquiries about potential internship placements may be initiated by faculty or students and are established by mutual agreement. Each student should complete roughly 90 hours with a final project or 110 hours without one, depending on the specifics of the internship arrangement.

As with any job, there is some paperwork to complete. All students in an internship placement must fill out the internship contract with their site supervisor prior to or at the start of the semester. There is a short mid-term report from the site supervisor to complete, as well as a final report from the site supervisor.

For you as an intern, to help you reflect on and learn from your experience, students maintain an internship log, a set of short essays, and convene online for discussion.

Your site supervisor and course instructor will work with you to establish safe, respectful interactions, reasonable expectations, and clear guidelines for your internship. If you encounter any issues or problems at your internship, contact Professor Kramer. If you encounter a situation of discrimination or harassment, Professor Kramer can direct you to resources both confidential and otherwise (see the Discrimination and Harassment page for more information). If you require accommodations of some sort, please refer to the Disabilities and Accommodations page for more information.

Let’s get started.

What You Will Learn

This course is helps you gain real world experience in the field of public history, broadly conceived.

Over the course of the semester, you will:

  • explore the broader field of public history and how historical inquiry and knowledge relates to publics, broadly conceived.
  • develop your understanding of a particular institution and how it relates to the broader field of public history.
  • gain experience with what it is like to work on a public history project.
  • improve your skills of researching and writing reflectively about your internship experience.
  • improve skills of oral presentation and communication.
  • learn how to use source citation using Chicago Manual of Style effectively and accurately.

How This Course Works

This is a hybrid online course.

It is partly asynchronous and self-directed. You will independently work at your internship, maintain your log, complete short essays and, if you choose to do so, complete a final project, following the deadlines listed on the course website.

It is partly synchronous, with required discussion meetings online, times to be arranged depending on internship and course schedules.

You may have noticed that I use Canvas instead of Blackboard because I think it is slightly better designed. It’s not perfect, but more pleasant to look at and navigate and use as both an instructor and, I think, as a student (I’ll be curious to hear what you think at the end of the semester).

We will also use online software such as VoiceThread (for, among other things, a recorded oral presentation you will prepare about your research project), Kaltura Media (for films to view), Collaborate (for synchronous discussion), MS Word (which you can download for free through Brockport On the Hub), and Google Docs (which you can create a free account to use).

If you have questions about the technical details of the course, or about the hybrid nature of the course, please feel free to contact me.

Who Is Your Professor?

Dr. Michael Kramer

Assistant Professor, Department of History Department, SUNY Brockport

Office hours: Remotely, by appointment


Bio: Michael J. Kramer is an assistant professor in the Department of History at SUNY Brockport. He specializes in modern US cultural and intellectual history, transnational history, and public and digital history. He is the author of The Republic of Rock: Music and Citizenship in the Sixties Counterculture (Oxford University Press, 2013) and is currently writing a book about technology and tradition in the US folk music movement, This Machine Kills Fascists: What the Folk Music Revival Can Teach Us About the Digital Age. He is also at work on a digital public history project about the Berkeley Folk Music Festival and the Sixties Folk Music Revival on the US West Coast. In addition to experience as an editor, museum professional, and dance dramaturg, he has written numerous essays and articles for publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Salon, First of the Month, The National Memo, The Point, TheaterNewsday, and US Intellectual History Book Reviews. Kramer blogs at Culture Rover and Issues in Digital History. More information about his research, teaching, and public scholarship can be found at his website,

More about what I research and teach in modern US intellectual and cultural history.

More about the SUNY Brockport History Department.

What Makes for Good Work?

At your internship

Your site supervisor and course instructor will work with you to establish safe, respectful interactions, reasonable expectations, and clear guidelines for your internship. Being punctual, completing work effectively, and demonstrating an interest in learning are key to good work at an internship.


There is a craft to historical interpretation. The assignments will help you approach this craft and continue to improve your practice of it. Your task in each assignment is to develop effective, compelling, evidence-driven arguments informed by historical awareness and thinking. These will often work by applying your judgment and assessment to consider how things connect or contrast to each other: how do different or similar artifacts, documents, quotations, details, facts, and perspectives relate to each other? And most importantly, why? What are the implicit ideas and beliefs behind the evidence you locate and analyze?

Aspire to make your assignments communicate a convincing, compelling, and precise argument. The argument, to succeed, should display close analysis of details found in the evidence. These should be contextualized effectively: what else was happening at the time? How does the evidence relate to the broader framework of its historical moment?

Try to write, edit, and revise to achieve clarity of expression in graceful, stylish, logical, well- reasoned prose. Evaluation of assignments will be based on the following rubric:  

  1. Argument – presence of an articulated argument that makes an evidence-based claim and expresses the significance of that claim .
  2. Evidence – presence of specific evidence from primary sources to support the argument.
  3. Argumentation – presence of convincingly connection between evidence and argument, which is to say effective explanation of the evidence that links its details to the larger argument and its sub-arguments with logic and precision.
  4. Contextualization – presence of contextualization, which is to say an accurate portrayal of historical contexts in which evidence appeared.
  5. Style – presence of logical flow of reasoning and grace of prose, including:
    • (a) an effective introduction that hooks the reader with originality and states the argument of the assignment and its significance
    • (b) clear topic sentences that provide sub-arguments and their significance in relation to the overall argument.
    • (c) effective transitions between paragraphs
    • (d) a compelling conclusion that restates argument and adds a final point
    • (e) accurate phrasing and word choice
    • (f) use of active rather than passive voice sentence constructions

Grading Standards

Remember to honor the Academic Honesty Policy at Brockport, including no plagiarism. Confused about what constitutes plagiarism? Don’t hesitate to ask.

A-level work is outstanding and reflects a student’s:

  • regular attendance, timely preparation, and on-time submission of assignments
  • thorough understanding of required course material
  • insightful, constructive, respectful and regular participation in class discussion
  • clear, compelling, and well-written assignments that include
    • a credible argument with some originality
    • argument supported by relevant, accurate and complete evidence
    • integration of argument and evidence in an insightful analysis
    • excellent organization: introduction, coherent paragraphs, smooth transitions, conclusion
    • sophisticated prose free of spelling and grammatical errors
    • correct page formatting when relevant
    • excellent formatting of footnotes or other form of required documentation

B-level work is good, but with minor problems in one or more areas

C-level work is acceptable, but with minor problems in several areas or major problems in at least one area

D-level work is poor, with major problems in more than one area

E-level work is unacceptable, failing to meet basic course requirements and/or standards of academic integrity/honesty

Grade Breakdown

Short Assignments 01-06 = 6 x 10 = 60%

Logbook of hours and tasks = 10%

Participation = 30% depending on optional final project

Optional Final Project = factored in as per specific project to roughly 20% of total grade

Attendance Policy

Attendance is mandatory for our online discussions. Students are allowed one absence for the semester, no questions asked. This includes an absence for any reason. Each additional absence may lower your grade at the instructor’s discretion. Please contact the instructor if you have questions. Four unexcused absences are grounds for course failure.

Your internship requires 90 hours with final projects, 110 hours without. Maintain a log book of hours worked and tasks performed.

The Importance of Academic Honesty

Academic dishonesty, particularly in the form of plagiarized assignments (question sheets, essays), will result in failed assignments, possible course failure, official reporting, and potential expulsion from Brockport. The Brockport Academic Honesty policy applies to all work in this course. To be certain about its stipulations, rather than risk severe penalties, consult it on the College website. If you have additional questions about the Academic Honesty policy, please consult the instructor.

Disabilities and Accommodations

As the father of a child with neuroatypicality, Professor Kramer recognizes that students may require accommodations to learn effectively. In accord with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Brockport Faculty Senate legislation, students with documented disabilities may be entitled to specific accommodations. SUNY Brockport is committed to fostering an optimal learning environment by applying current principles and practices of equity, diversity, and inclusion. If you are a student with a disability and want to utilize academic accommodations, you must register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to obtain an official accommodation letter which must be submitted to faculty for accommodation implementation. If you think you have a disability, you may want to meet with SAS to learn about related resources. You can find out more about Student Accessibility Services, or by contacting SAS via, or (585) 395-5409. Students, faculty, staff, and SAS work together to create an inclusive learning environment. As always, feel free to contact the instructor with any questions.

Discrimination and Harassment Policies

Sex and gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, are prohibited in educational programs and activities, including classes. Title IX legislation and College policy require the College to provide sex and gender equity in all areas of campus life. If you or someone you know has experienced sex or gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, or stalking, we encourage you to seek assistance and to report the incident through these resources. Confidential assistance is available on campus at Hazen Center for Integrated Care and RESTORE. Faculty are NOT confidential under Title IX and will need to share information with the Title IX & College Compliance Officer. For these and other policies governing campus life, please visit the College-Wide Student Policies webpage.

Additional Policies

History Department Student Learning Outcomes
  1. Articulate a thesis (a response to a historical problem, particularly in relation to public history).
  2. Advance in logical sequence principal arguments in defense of a historical thesis.
  3. Provide relevant evidence drawn from the evaluation of primary and/or secondary sources that supports the primary arguments in defense of a historical thesis.
  4. Evaluate the significance of a historical thesis by relating it to a broader field of historical knowledge.
  5. Express themselves clearly in writing that forwards a historical analysis.
  6. Use disciplinary standards (Chicago Style) of documentation when referencing historical sources.
  7. Students will identify, analyze, and evaluate arguments as they appear in their own and others’ work.
  8. Students will write and reflect on the writing conventions of the disciplinary area, with multiple opportunities for feedback and revision or multiple opportunities for feedback.
  9. Students will demonstrate understanding of the methods social scientists use to explore social phenomena, including observation, hypothesis development, measurement and data collection, experimentation, evaluation of evidence, and employment of interpretive analysis.
  10. Students will demonstrate knowledge of major concepts, models and issues of history.
  11. Students will develop proficiency in oral discourse and evaluate an oral presentation according to established criteria.
Emergency Alert System

In case of emergency, the Emergency Alert System at The College at Brockport will be activated. Students are encouraged to maintain updated contact information using the link on the College’s Emergency Information website (Links to an external site.). Included on the website is detailed information about the College’s emergency operations plan, classroom emergency preparedness, evacuation procedures, emergency numbers, and safety videos. In addition, students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Emergency Procedures posted in classrooms, halls, and buildings and all college facilities.

Mandatory Covid-19 Safety Measures to Protect You and Our SUNY Brockport Community

SUNY Brockport’s primary concern during this COVID-19 pandemic focuses on the safety, health, and well-being of students and the college community.

Your compliance with these mandatory safety measures will help reduce the likelihood of COVID cases and keep our campus safe so we can convene in-person classes and student activities. Failure to follow the directive of a college official will result in a referral to the Student Conduct Board and appropriate actions will be taken. Please note, you will be asked to leave the classroom if your behavior endangers yourself or others by not following safety directives set by the college and a referral to the Student Conduct Board will be made.  As per the Code of Student Conduct, Failure to Comply with the directive of a college official could result in disciplinary action, including but not limited to removal from the residence halls and/or suspension.

Student cleaning requirements: Wipe your work surface (desk or table) and seat prior to use with the disinfectant wipe effective against COVID19 provided in the classroom.  Deposit the used wipe in a classroom garbage receptacle.  If shared items are used in the classroom, disinfect them before and after use.   

Seating & Social Distancing:

  • Do not occupy seats that are marked “Do not sit.”   
  • Maintain social distance (stay 6’ apart) from others in the classroom to the extent possible. 

Face covering: Wear an appropriate face covering that covers your nose and mouth at all times. You may lift your mask briefly to take a drink.  Eating is not permitted inside the classroom. Please see the attached link for specific information regarding Social Distancing and Face Covering Policy.

Healthy Practices:

  • Do not report to class if you are feeling ill.  Leave class quietly and immediately if you are feeling unwell and notify your instructor as soon as you able to.
  • Follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face. Cover coughs and sneezes.  Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  While hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is widely available throughout the campus, it is less effective than washing with soap and water.  Washing your hands often is considered the best practice. 

Any student who feels ill or has any medical needs should contact the Student Health Center at (585) 395-2414 or your personal physician to discuss your symptoms. If you think you need to see a medical professional, contact the Student Health Center to make an appointment first as there are no walk in hours at this time. Students who experience significant cough, worsening of chronic asthma symptoms, a fever that lasts more than two to three days, dizziness, and/or dehydration should be evaluated. If symptoms are severe and urgent assistance is needed, contact the Student Health Center and/or University Police on campus (585) 395-2222 or 911 if off campus.

Emergency evacuation considerations:

In the event of an evacuation alarm, everyone should immediately find the nearest exit, leave the building, and proceed to an assembly area with a face covering on and maintain social distance from others to the extent possible.  While it is important to maintain social distance, you should not delay exiting the building in order to do so in the event of any emergency.  In areas where separate entrances/exits have been established, it is important to note that these do not apply in the event of an emergency.  Individuals should use the nearest exit.  When re-entering the building, maintain social distance from others.  Upon re-entering the building, avoid congregating in the entranceway or lobby.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.

Internship Site Agreements and Evaluations

  • Internship Letter of Agreement
  • Internship Site Supervisor Midterm Eval Form
  • Internship Site Supervisor Final Eval Form


(Based on assignments first designed by Dr. Jamie Spiller and Dr. Morag Martin)

Assignment 01 Course Contract and Student Info Card
Assignment 02 Beginnings

In 300-500 words, develop a cogent reflection in clear, compelling, stylish prose in response to the following prompt:

  • How do the particulars of your internship relate to the broader field of public history? What is public history, exactly, to your mind? How does the institution you are completing your internship at imagine its relationship to public history?
  • How did you find your internship? What are you hoping to get out of it?  What tasks do you find most difficult?  Which ones do you think you will find easy to learn? What challenges overall do you foresee?
Assignment 03 Your Host Organization

In 300-500 words, develop a cogent reflection in clear, compelling, stylish prose in response to the following prompt:

  • Describe your host organization. Your response can include the following: mission, activities, leadership, staff structure, partners, clients, customers, building, resources, sources of funding, social media presence.  You may wish to sit down and interview your site supervisor or another staff person to complete this response.
Assignment 04 Checking In

In 300-500 words, develop a cogent reflection in clear, compelling, stylish prose in response to the following prompt:

  • Describe and reflect on your learning and responsibilities thus far in the internship: How has the experience met your expectations (from assignment 02)? What has turned out to be challenging or easy?  What was unexpected? What have you most enjoyed doing?  Least enjoyed?
Assignment 05 Futures

In 300-500 words, develop a cogent reflection in clear, compelling, stylish prose in response to the following prompt:

  • Do some research into jobs in the sector in which you are working (for the internship or for your future career).  What jobs are available?  What degrees are linked to these sorts of jobs?  What seems to be the future outlook of this profession (you can explore the occupational Outlook Handbook as well as the website of the National Council for Public History)?
Assignment 06 Knowledge & Skills

In 300-500 words, develop a cogent reflection in clear, compelling, stylish prose in response to the following prompt:

  • Think about how the skills you have learned in this internship can be applied to other settings as well as how the academic training in History has helped you prepare for your internship work. What skills did you bring to the table?  What knowledge? Which did you have to learn?  What would you like to work on in the future?
Log of Hours and Tasks

Please maintain a log of hours and tasks over the course of your internship. You can use an MS Word document to complete your log. Use 12-point font, double-spaced, with regular margins. Upload to Canvas as an MS Word document at the end of the term. Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact Professor Kramer.

Optional Final Project

Your final project can be a larger endeavor developed in consultation with the instructor in the course. It can consist of either:

  • an actual public history project completed at your internship, plus a reflective essay on the project;

Or it can consist of another project of your choice, so long as the project consists of more substantive historical research. For instance, you might wish to develop:

  • an interpretive essay about the history of your work site;
  • an interpretive profile of a particular person;
  • a preliminary essay for research and development of a larger public history project;
  • a more substantive analysis of some topic in public history (from behind the scenes issues of funding to ethical questions to details of a particular public history topic);
  • a digital project (podcast, digital exhibition) about the project you have been working on for your internship or a related project;
  • some other topic to be determined with the instructor.

Periodic Individual and Group Meetings Throughout the Semester

To be scheduled based on student schedules.

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