Archives and Public History


Student working in library Archivists and public historians present and interpret history in a wide variety of dynamic venues, ranging from history museums to digital libraries. For four decades, NYU has prepared students for successful careers as archivists, manuscript curators, documentary editors, oral historians, cultural resource managers, historical interpreters, and new media specialists.

The program emphasizes a solid grounding in historical scholarship, intense engagement with new media technologies, and close involvement with New York’s extraordinary archival and public history institutions. Students in the program elect to follow a concentration in either archival management or public history.

As part of their core coursework, students have the opportunity to embark on independent research (“capstone projects”) using the unique resources of New York City as their public history and archives laboratory. In addition, internships are integrated with coursework, contributing to a professionalized and constructive learning environment.  

See the Program page for information on application procedures and requirements, financial aid, advanced certificates in archives and public history, and the dual-degree program with Long Island University. For additional information, contact the director of the program, Professor Ellen Noonan, at student in document processing lab


History of the Program

Archives Concentration

Since 1977, NYU has prepared graduate history students for careers as archivists and manuscript curators in a variety of academic, nonprofit, governmental, and corporate venues. The program provides students with a solid foundation in the theory, methodology, and practice of archives. Course work in complementary disciplines and new technologies is emphasized, ensuring that program graduates remain current with professional trends and new developments. New York City offers a unique setting and laboratory for students who wish to explore history and archives, and the program takes full advantage of the city’s repositories in providing internships and practicum experiences for its students. A comprehensive historical overview of the program may be found in Peter J. Wosh, “Research and Reality Checks: Change and Continuity in NYU’s Archival Management Program,” American Archivist (Fall/Winter 2000), pp. 271-283.

Public History Concentration

New York University inaugurated its public history program in 1981, under the guidance of Professors Daniel Walkowitz and Paul Mattingly. From its inception, the program has used such innovative tools as oral history, visual material, documentary film, multimedia, performance, and museum exhibitions to challenge conventional historical interpretations and definitions. Public history coursework has trained students to develop conceptual skills and transform their research in ways that allow them to reach audiences outside the academy. The program historically has collaborated with such New York institutions as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and the Museum of the City of New York, and its workshops have focused on such topics as ethnicity, neighborhoods, and urban reform. A comprehensive historical overview of the program may be found in Rachel Bernstein and Paul Mattingly, “The Pedagogy of Public History,” Journal of American Ethnic History (Fall 1998). In 2007, the public history and archival programs at NYU were combined into the new M.A. program that is described on this web site.