This week, the American Historical Association previewed a forthcoming report on the number of full-time history jobs. The post is entitled “Another Tough Year for the Academic Job Market in History”—which is a bit misleading, since it documents the continuation of a decade-long collapse. In the last hiring year (2016-2017), employers advertised only 289 tenure-track faculty positions and 212 other full-time jobs in the AHA Career Center. During that same year, to judge by the recent past, American universities probably granted more than 1,000 new doctorates in history.
Today’s guest post is by Lindsay M. Chervinsky. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis and is completing her manuscript, “The President’s Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.”
As the new school year starts, many departments are offering seminars for their graduate students on skills and approaches to find a job in this difficult market. Editorials on ChronicleVitae and the American Historical Association mission to document where historians work demonstrate that the history community is beginning to welcome “non-traditional” employment opportunities. While these efforts represent a great first step to introducing students to jobs in editing, public history, and teaching, I would argue that there should be a broader conversation about learning to create a public voice and building a web presence.
Welcome to the first installment of our “Where Historians Work: The View from Early America” series. Today, The Junto features a Q&A between Katy Lasdow and Dr. Emily Swafford, Manager of Academic Affairs for the American Historical Association in Washington, D.C. Emily shares her experiences seeking out varied career options after graduate school. She also provides AHA resources for readers who wish to become more involved in the conversation about career diversity, whether as part of their own job searches, or within their graduate history departments.
Do you hold a PhD in early American history/literature/architectural history/art history/etc. or a related field, and have you chosen a career outside of the professoriate? The Junto wants to hear from you! There’s still time to participate in our conversation, “Where Historians Work: A View from Early America.”
Leave your stories in the comments of this post. Or, if you would prefer a less public forum, you may email The Junto (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject line “Career Diversity.” Please post comments or email by Friday, February 17. Continue reading
Recently the American Historical Association published Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes, “the only interactive, discipline-specific, and cross-institutional database of career outcomes for PhDs.” Using data collected from AHA directories and on the web, “Where Historians Work” presents a robust statistical overview of the varied employment sought by History PhDs from more than 30 degree-granting intuitions. For those historians who have long held positions outside of the academy, the database, part of the AHA’s broader Career Diversity for Historians initiative, is a welcome acknowledgement of what many have known anecdotally for years: History PhDs can—and do!—work in an array of fields.
With summer winding down and the fall semester upon us (or nearly so), that means it’s also time for those headed onto the job market to make sure their materials are in order as the first application deadlines approach. There’s lots of advice out there about how to do that (enough that I can’t begin to link to the many essays). But as I advanced from years on the job market into a position myself—including work on a department search—I’ve thought about what advice I would offer based on my perspective of the process. Rather than offer a bullet-point list of do’s and don’ts (though you can see those at the end), I’d like to provide some perspective on the audiences of the job letter. It’s a weird genre of writing, so it bears consideration as you put together your materials.
It’s commencement season around the United States, so we wish a hearty congratulations to all of our readers (and our students) graduating this month. Now, straight on to the links!