I confess that this is a bit of extremely well-meaning and well-intentioned PR. I am pleased to be one of the judges of the new Public History Prize, which is being run by the Royal Historical Society (in collaboration with the Public History Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research). And so I am actively soliciting entries and nominations.
I am not sure that "public history" is a category that meant much thirty years ago. And if it did, it may have been tainted with a preoccupation with the local and the simple. I remember that my mother always said -- and this is going back a good way further than thirty years -- that when she tried to run history classes in Church Preen, Shropshire, she got a good audience until the horizons were raised to Acton Burnell, Shropshire. At that point no one wanted to know.
Things have changed. That is partly I guess because some brilliant micro-studies have shown how the local is important and wide-ranging, and opens perspective up rather than excludes Acton Burnell (think Montaillou or the Cheese and the Worms). But also because of a growing sense that public history need not just be local history, and that to talk to a wide range of people doesn't need to be some awkward exercise in dumbing down.