The copyright law of the United States Title 17, United States Code governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. As the number of available teaching positions in the nation's colleges and universities became more limited, a growing number of historians found employment in historical societies, museums, governmental agencies, private businesses, and other venues outside of traditional academia. By the late s these practitioners of "public history" a phrase coined by Robert Kelley of the University of California, Santa Barbara wanted a professional organization that would address their concerns and interests.
The establishment of NCPH met this need. The movement towards an organization for public historians began in when G. Wesley Johnson organized a public history conference in Phoenix. The Phoenix meeting, funded by a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council, brought together people from many parts of the country who were involved in public history.
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The success of the conference created interest in holding a national conference the following year. Over sixty people attended the conference. The attendees expressed a desire to create an organization that would promote and support public history and its practitioners, so a steering committee was set up to explore the feasibility of the idea.
The steering committee met in the main seminar room of the National Archives in Washington, D. Wesley Johnson would serve as the acting chairman. The group appointed five study committees to work out the details for setting up NCPH and to plan the second National Conference on Public History, to be held April , , in Pittsburgh. The study committees would present their recommendations to the full steering committee at the second conference. At its April meeting the steering committee voted to adopt a council structure for NCPH rather than make it a membership organization, in part due to concerns of whether there would be enough people willing to join NCPH to make it a viable membership organization.
The steering committee became the Board of Directors of NCPH and increased its membership to 32 members by adding two people from each of the five study committees. The bylaws adopted in December, , formally codified this arrangement.
The bylaws also established the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, composed of the chair, the vice-chair, the secretary, the treasurer, and three members of the board. An amendment to the bylaws in September, , changed the position titles to President and Vice-President. The individuals who have held the position of Chair or President have been:.
The bylaws also created an associates category. Wesley Johnson as editor. Additional money from the Rockefeller Foundation supported the publication of subsequent issues until the subscriber base and other revenues grew large enough to cover costs.
Johnson remained the editor of the journal until The third editor was Otis L. Graham, Jr.
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She was succeeded by Anne Marie Plane, who served as editor from until the Spring issue when she and Mary E. Hancock became co-editors.
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In Randy Bergstrom became the editor. The growth of NCPH in its early years soon created the need for a staff person who could handle the day-to-day operations of the organizations. In April, the Board established the position of Executive Director. Important changes took place in NCPH during An amendment to the bylaws converted NCPH from a council into a full membership organization.
The Board of Directors voted to create the Executive Secretariat, an administrative office run by the Executive Secretary that would handle all of the general business operations of NCPH. The position of Executive Director was discontinued. Barbara J. Wayne Anderson became the Executive Secretary and held the post until , when Susan Keats took over the position. NCPH's articles of incorporation stated the purpose of NCPH was "to encourage, represent, promote, and foster educational and other activities relating to public history in the United States. Beginning with the and meetings that played an important role in the creation of NCPH, the organization has held annual meetings where sessions and workshops deal with both the theoretical and practical sides of public history.
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