On The Move

University of South Carolina historian to lead National Council on Public History

Jan 20, 2010

Dr. Robert R. Weyeneth

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COLUMBIA, SC - January 20, 2010 - University of South Carolina history professor Dr. Robert R. Weyeneth has been elected to lead the National Council on Public History, the nation’s leading professional organization for public historians.

Weyeneth will serve a two-year term as president-elect, followed by a two-year term as president. The NCPH, headquartered in Indianapolis, publishes the flagship journal, “The Public Historian.”

“It is an honor to be recognized by my peers and to have the opportunity to lead the National Council on Public History at a time when so many new public history programs are starting up in history departments in the U.S. and abroad,” Weyeneth said. “I hope to nurture that growth, to encourage a more racially and ethnically diverse group of students to study public history and to encourage local practitioners – the community activist working to save a landmark or the local museum curator who may not see themselves as public historians – to take advantage of the NCPH’s many resources.”

A faculty member at Carolina since 1992, Weyeneth is the director of the history department’s Public History Program, which has earned numerous awards, particularly for its work in African-American heritage preservation.

“The Public History Program is one of the great success stories at the university, and Bob Weyeneth’s leadership has been an important part of that story,” said Dr. Lacy Ford, chairman of the department of history. “We hope Bob’s election to this prestigious national office will let people of the state know even more about the good work that our Public History Program is doing.”

More than 200 alumni of the program are employed at the nation’s most visible institutions, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Many of the public historians working in South Carolina museums, historic sites, preservation agencies, libraries and archives also are alumni.

“The Public History Program is a crown jewel for the university,” Weyeneth said. “It is one of the oldest, largest and most successful public history programs in the United States.”

Weyeneth, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California Berkeley, specializes in the study, understanding and teaching of controversial chapters of history and how best to communicate these stories to public audiences. His publications have addressed the challenges of conducting public history in communities with historical secrets and the issues that arise when societies contemplate remembering --or--forgetting-- a problematic past.