This article discusses the experience of teaching public history at Ruskin College, Oxford since 1996 to consider debates on the role of the “historian” and “the public.” Drawing on ideas of Rosenzweig and Thelen as well as Samuel, this explores approaches to public history adopted within the M.A. program at the College. It develops themes raised in the collection People and their Pasts: Public History Today to consider the concept of furthering historical understanding based on common experiences and breaking down rigid distinctions between “the historian” and “the public.” The article describes practical approaches adopted in the teaching of public history and draws on other examples, such as the television program, Who Do You Think You Are?1

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