For anyone interested in history, you will spend your free time reading books, watching documentaries, and planning trips. However, if you are like me and are primarily interested in the history of places that are quite far, you can be limited in your access. This is 2018 though, and thankfully we have several ways of keeping up with history without having to take out loans to travel. (Don’t do that…) These are my favourite ways to stay involved and informed with history, and pushing my own research further!
The majority of history graduates are not working in related capacity, post-graduation. While a lot of history grads have had their fill of reading and papers and lectures and are happy to leave it all behind, there is a still a small core of us who want to stay as involved in the field as possible. There are also a lot of amateur historians and history buffs who are happy to soak up all of the history they can! These 3 recommendations are easy and accessible ways to keep up with history…
I signed up for NetGalley a few years ago, but really only started using it seriously in the last month. For anyone who doesn’t know, NetGalley allows you to sign up to receive e-ARCs (advanced reader copy) from publishers in exchange for publishing an honest review. Once you are approved, you just download the e-book, read it, and then share your review to NetGalley/your site.
I feel incredibly grateful, because I have been approved for almost every book I’ve requested! The majority of books that I have been requesting are history books, and are by some very well-known historians. I currently have books by Lucy Worsley and Tracy Borman waiting for me, who are the co-Head Curators of the Historic Royal Palaces. No matter what your preferred area of history is, you should be able to find books to read!
My only recommendation to make sure that you stay on top of your reviews. If you don’t submit reviews, you may not be approved for the books you request. (The whole point for the publishers is to get reviews….)
2) Local Lectures and Conferences
Depending on the type of history you are interested in, and where you live, you may be lucky enough to have events that you can attend. (I am so incredibly jealous of all of the history bloggers in the UK who get to attend so many conferences!!) If you have a university in your town/city, the history department probably sponsors lectures periodically throughout the year, and a lot of the time, those are open to the general public. (You may have reply in advance but I’ve never seen a charge.) These can be local professors but quite often are visiting academics who may work in any number of fields- don’t assume that they will only be speaking on local history.
There are often also student conferences that you can attend for a small registration fee! These conferences are a great experience for undergraduate and graduate students, giving them a chance to present their work. However, they are a great experience for the public as well! It is the perfect opportunity to see up-and-coming historians, and hear some potentially unique topics! (Students are often best placed to find a different topic or approach, with fresh eyes.) Don’t assume you need to present to attend them!
3) FutureLearn Classes
FutureLearn is one of my favourite websites. That might make me a giant nerd but it is a wonderful feeling to spend 45 minutes on your computer and not think “what did I do with my time?”! FutureLearn is one of several different sites that offer MOOCs, aka Massive Open Online Courses. MOOCs are open to everyone, as long as you are willing to sign up and do the work. They can be anywhere from 1-6 weeks long, and require 1-5 hours per week, and often include articles, videos, discussions, and interactive exercises!
In the case of FutureLearn, if you would like to pay a fee (between $50-70 USD) you can receive unlimited access and a certificate to show that you have completed it. I don’t know that I would pay to receive a certificate (because I don’t know that many people would care if you have a certificate for a history course), but it may be worthwhile for unlimited access if you would like to go back later on.
What I love most about FutureLearn is that they pair with several fantastic and interesting institutions! I am currently just finishing up a course on Royal Fashion by the University of Glasgow and Historic Royal Palaces. Because HRP is involved with the course, we have access to so many primary sources and instructors who spend their time surrounded by the very pieces we are discussing!