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Hist 301: Historian's Craft (Benes, Spring 2024)

Librarianship as a field within, rather than parallel to, History

What is it you say ya' do here?

  • Provide guest instruction within history courses, with a focus on tools, databases, research methods related to that specific discipline
    • Finding primary sources on Modern France, for example, is very different from finding sources on the 17th century Caribbean!
  • Work with students, faculty, and researchers via email, chat, or in-person meetings to help them find resources for their projects.
  • Stay up-to-date on major trends across the whole of historical research, be aware of new methodological developments (ex. growth of Digital Humanities, Public History, development of new area studies.
  • Ensure the library collection of books, articles, databases grows to support courses & research at the university, while also making sure the overall collection reflects the most up-to-date information within the overall historical profession.
  • Be aware of idiosyncratic details relating to historical research.
    • Example: Jefferson's papers at at St. Louis, not in Va ; James Joyce's papers are in Buffalo, not Ireland. The 1890s census is gone and missing forever. Jeremy Bentham's head is stored in a different place than his body at UCL. Sometimes Major databases purposely exclude important journals due to petty arguments between publishers.

In short: Every history needs research skills & knows the nuances of their specific research area, the same way all historians need to be able to do Historiography. However, there are historians like Georg Iggers who specifically studied the methodology of historiography; similarly, every historian needs to master the practical aspects of research methodology, while history librarians get to really dive into it.

History Librarian Jobs

Admittedly, History librarian positions are Exceptionally rare.

Most of the time, the history librarian is really the "Humanities Librarian" or "Social Sciences Librarian" and they work with many departments.
At Drew University, I worked with ~10 departments as a librarian. At Portland State, I had 5.

Getting to work exclusively with History is the reason I came to W&M, and there are maybe(?) three dedicated history librarians in the entire country.

That said, there are always interesting history-related jobs within librarianship.

Academic Jobs

AHA Joblist. This is an obvious first step when looking for "traditional" university positions in History. Though mostly university positions, there are public history, library, museum, and archival openings are in there as well. It also includes some random-ish posting, like postings for an "Academic Technologist for Digital Scholarship."
History News Network Job Board.  Like AHA, another great place to look. Includes professorships, postdocs, and other academic-related positions (and sometimes a Deanship!). Note that it sometimes takes a while for job list to load.
National Council on Public History. Excellent source for both non-university and university positions. Includes: Museums, historic sites, archives, libraries, gov researcher, non-profit researcher, admin, and digital humanities.
H-Net Job List Another staple for historians looking for history-related positions. You can narrow the search by your field using the keyword search and/or by using the assigned subject terms (these are listed in the posts themselves). In addition to professorships, it has a number of public history, archival, library, museum, and curatorial postings  - sometime posted under the categories of "other" or "none." I also strongly suggest you all sign up for the weekly H-Net job posting listserv (and, indeed, sign up for the H-Net lists related to your interests).
Chronicle of Higher Ed Vitae  Clearing house of academic positions generally. Search for "History" or "museum" or "archives" or "libraries" etc. Postings here will often overlap with previously mention lists, but it will also have unique postings.

Higher Ed Jobs Ibid. 

ALA Joblist. Mostly Library jobs, but not exclusively. There are many research-oriented positions, as well as museum and Public History postings. There are also a number of gov/non-profit/private/corporate research positions advertised here. A library degree is not always required for all the posted jobs - I found my previous position as a [nonpartisan] government researcher through the ALA Job list, and an MLS/MLIS degree was not required.

INALJ. Mainly for librarians, but there are some non-library, non-MLS positions posted in there, mostly in public history or general research. Suggested search terms in the left-hand side bar include: archivists, data interpreters, catalogers, information officers, managers, curators, database admin, digital curation, indexing, general researcher, etc. These give you an idea of the jobs posted here.
Archives Gigs. Blog of archival listings. 
LITA. Mainly for librarians, but a number of "Research Specialist" postings as well.
You may also consider looking at the Society of American Archivists and the Association of Research Libraries pages to see what positions are open in archives and academic libraries. These will frequently require additional masters degrees -  I know a number of you have professional masters degrees already, or plan to obtain one later. Also see American Alliance of Museums 
Government Research Positions
Some of you may be interested in using your research skills for government research (e.g. Library of Congress / Congressional Research Service / ND Legislature / etc). I can say from experience that there is a desire for trained, research-oriented historians in government at all levels. For gov research positions, USAJOBS and the Congressional Research Service  are useful. When searching USAJOBS, use search terms like "history," "historian," and  "researcher."