Department of History

Public History Field School

WSU Pullman Campus & Virginia City/Nevada City, Montana

The Department of History, Washington State University, will offer its public history field school May 10–29, 2010.

The field school will emphasize both academic and practical instruction to develop basic skills in public history subfields. This year 20 students from various parts of the United States will be admitted.

The field school is designated as History 529: Interpreting History through Material Culture. Enrolling in the course will provide students with 3 semester hours of graded graduate credit.

Students will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Monday, May 10, in room 333 of Wilson-Short Hall on the Pullman campus. The following day, Tuesday, May 11, will be a travel day for the drive to Virginia City, Montana, and students are required to check in by 3:00 p.m.

The 2010 Virginia City, Montana, Public History Field School will focus on researching and writing a historical reenactment plan for the September 24, 1868, "Treaty With Shoshones, Bannacks, and Sheepeaters" (people who are now known as the Lemhi Shoshones) and Chief Tendoy's cession document which was signed on January 3, 1870. The former, referred to as the Virginia City Treaty, was signed 15 miles north of Virginia City in present day Laurin, Montana, and the latter was formalized in the "territorial headquarters" building in Virginia City, Montana Territory. Ultimately the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the treaty with the Lemhi Shoshones whose most famous member, Sacajawea, had accompanied the Lewis and Clark Expedition between 1803 and 1806, but the historical importance of these two events form significant elements to the fabric of Virginia City and the region's history.

National and state parks and museums are important history education "delivery systems," and historical reenactments build on these alternative and popular ways for people to learn about history. (Virginia City and Nevada City typically draw 50,000 visitors annually.) Working with Montana Heritage Commission staff (which is skilled and experienced in the field of live historical interpretation) and Lemhi Shoshone and Shoshone Bannock tribal members, student participants will conduct comprehensive research on all aspects of these two events. For instance, they will research and write draft script material, research period forms of clothing used by Indians and non-Indians, and, in the case of the treaty negotiations, they will locate and interpret the Lemhi Shoshone campsite near Laurin where 300 of Chief Tendoy's people who attended the negotiations camped. They will also interpret the two written agreements which these two events produced.

The 2010 Public History Field School's draft historical interpretive strategy document will be used as a guide for the Montana Heritage Commission staff and members of Shoshone Bannock Tribes of Idaho for a future live, historical interpretive event which will reveal these two historical milestones to the broader public.


Dates of Field School

May 10–29, 2010

Course syllabusCourse

History 529 (3 semester graduate credits)

Course Fee

$314 – Covers food and lodging in Virginia City and lunches in Pullman.

Additional Costs
  • Transportation to Virginia City, MT, and back to Pullman, WA, will be provided. Students will provide transportation to and from Pullman, WA.
  • Graduate tuition: $1,059
  • Housing in Pullman (dormitories): $110
  • Spending money and extra meal money

Restricted enrollment, by application only. This is a graduate student field school.


Available in .doc or .pdf
[Non-WSU students must also complete the Visiting Graduate Application.]

Application Deadline

Applications must be received by April 21, 2010. Candidate will be notified of acceptance by the end of March or sooner.

Inquiries for the 2010 field school should be directed to:

Dr. Orlan Svingen
Director, Public History Field School
Department of History
Washington State University
P.O. Box 644030
Pullman, WA 99164-4030
Phone: 509-335-5205
Fax: 509-335-4171


Montana Heritage Commission logoWSU's Public History Field School is a joint venture with the Montana Heritage Commission, which manages the Virginia City and Nevada City sites.



Department of History, PO Box 644030, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4030
301 Wilson-Short Hall, Pullman Campus • 509-335-5139 • Fax 509-335-4171 • Contact Us