The Center for Public History is excited to provide regular workshops for students and community members interested in finding practical applications for their historical interests and training.
At the recent “Public Historians as Entrepreneurs” workshop, a panel of public historians discussed the important question about what it looks like for public historians to own their own business.The panel included Jason Theriot, Valerie Wade, and April M. Frazier.
Jason Theriot is a public historian based in Houston, TX who specialized in historical research and writing services. He works with a wide variety of clients for different purposes, including litigation support, personal and family memoirs, and company and organizational histories.
Valerie Wade is a Certified Archivist who founded Lynnfield Historical Consulting to help people connect with their family histories. She assists with marketing, fact checking, community engagement, and content production for individuals producing historical work and research. Valerie is active in the Houston chapter of the Afro-American History and Genealogy Society. She is also a member of the National Council on Public History, the Association of Houston Archivists, the Texas Oral History Association, and a number of other professional organizations.
April M Frazier is a documentary and lifestyle photographer from Houston, TX. In 2011, April launched her photography business and has since served clients in all genres specializing in collaboration with minority and women owned businesses in Houston. Her most prized and ongoing work involves research and documentation of her ancestral roots in Texas through the creation of imagery on lands with an identified familial connection from the time of enslavement to present day.
As each panelist told the story of how they became an entrepreneur in the field of public history, it was clear that developing their own business was not always the original plan for the historians. April described how her career began in technology working with oil and gas companies, but that she did not feel fulfilled. It was her interest in documenting her own family history and photography that encouraged her to begin using her skills to uncover and record history.
Jason, a UH alumni, used his time at the university to work on projects about the history of the offshore oil and gas industry. Along with these projects, Jason was also encouraged to take a business class to learn basic business skills. These skills were useful while he completed history projects for the federal government that required he submit quarterly reports. Jason also learned invoicing skills from his earlier days using an invoice booklet while selling his published books out of his own truck to gain more exposure for his work. These skills allowed Jason to develop his own consulting business in 2012.
Valerie was a little different from the other panelists as she was interested in history from her undergrad and graduate degree and completed research in African-American history. After learning more about African-American history, Valerie had a desire to help people connect with history in real ways. Her skills as an archivist and developing her own historical consulting business has allowed her to help people connect with their own personal history.
Watch the video of the panelists discussing the challenges and benefits of starting your own business, developing a brand or marketing strategy that fits the services you’re able to offer, identifying your clientele, and finding the proper logistical tools and training to run a business smoothly.
As public historians learn to navigate the world of creating their own business and bringing history to a place that can be enjoyed by the public, the advice and tools mentioned by the panelists gives a starting point for anyone considering making public history their full-time personal business.
Additional Tools Mentioned:
Minority & Women Owned Business Certification (MWBE): https://www.mwbe-enterprises.com/
Stimulating Urban Renewal Through Entrepreneurship through the University of Houston: https://www.bauer.uh.edu/cei/sure/
Adobe Acrobat Sign: https://www.adobe.com/sign/online-signature.html
Federal Department of Labor: https://www.dol.gov/