A career in Heritage

Making the connections – relating Archives
to school life at Paganel Primary School

So many people ask me; what can you do with a history degree? You must want to teach history, right?

There is an assumption that the only careers that are history related are a curator, librarian or a history teacher. The very existence of the heritage sector is almost unheard of, something which I was certainly guilty of before beginning my placement at the People’s Heritage Co-operative. The placement has not only highlighted to me a number of possible careers in heritage but also the importance and under appreciation of the heritage organisations and the sector as a whole.

History is seen as sitting in a library, a university or study reading books and searching through archives. Although this is part of history, the topic is not limited to this and can encompass a diverse range of approaches as well as engage communities in their local and personal histories. History needs undergo a metaphorical make-over to encourage younger generations and children to engage with history outside of the classroom and within their local communities. Funding for events such as Lodge Hill Commentary ‘In Soldiers Footsteps’ Project and the ‘Birmingham Children of War’ at the Birmingham Library help promote history and archival research in an interesting and engaging way.

However, it seems that the combination of the ever changing curriculum, society’s obsession with social media and technological developments; heritage, archival use and community and schools engagement with personal histories outside a academic setting has taken a back burner on the government and society’s priorities. Placements, such as this which the University of Birmingham offered to me as part of my degree, are important in showing not only the real world application of a history degree but also highlighting the importance of heritage organisation and the fantastic work they do within communities and research they conduct.

As a history student, I am an expert at looking at past societies and interpreting the past not predicting the future nevertheless, I see that without further promotion and support the heritage sector (which includes co-operatives, museums, heritage groups and archives) has the potential to slowly dwindle. However, with placements like this raising awareness about careers in heritage and the fantastic work by organisations like FOBAH and the PHC I have no doubt the future of history and historical research is most definitely bright.

Robyn O’Halloran
PHC intern October 2016 to March 2017
A big thank you from everyone at PHC for your dedication and passion for our work, Robyn

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