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History for sale by the hour ^ | May. 04, 2004 | Tom Infield

Posted on 05/04/2004 4:14:39 AM PDT by stainlessbanner

Historian for hire: $65 per hour, or $500 per day.

After getting fed up with trying to find a tenure-track faculty position at a university, William C. Kashatus (Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania) has done what an independent-minded lawyer or CPA might do. He has gone into solo practice.

If that sounds unusual, it's only that Kashatus, 44, of Paoli, is so bold about it. Many historians in recent years have given up on the world of academia and have sought to sell their skills in other ways.

Want something researched or written on a historical topic? Kashatus will do it.

Want a presentation on the Underground Railroad or the history of the Phillies? Kashatus, whose 14 books include a strong interest in civil rights and baseball, is your man.

Got a school group? Kashatus will come dressed as William Penn or a Confederate soldier or any number of other characters.

A little of this, a little of that - that's how some historians make a living these days. Kashatus has gone farther than most by setting up a Web site - - and offering his services to anyone with a buck.

Getting laid off for budgetary reasons from the Chester County Historical Society is what goaded Kashatus into trying out as a historian for hire.

To provide for his three sons and stay-at-home wife, he took a teaching job - full time, but temporary - at Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke, Pa., a 21/2-hour drive from home.

On the side, he writes an occasional sports-related column for the Philadelphia Daily News and frequently contributes opinion columns to The Inquirer.

As soon as it's economically feasible, he hopes to support his family totally from his consulting, writing and living-history presentations.

"There is money in it," Kashatus said. "I can tell you right now, without going into my salary, that I am making as much from the consulting business as I am from my salary at the community college."

But he acknowledges that only time will tell whether he can make a living as an independent historian over the long haul.

Bruce Kuklick, a renowned Penn history professor who knows Kashatus and admires his books, said: "I wish him well, but I'm dubious... . It will be interesting to see what is going to happen to him. I think it is certainly a noble venture. But I think he is pushing the limit."

Bruce Craig, director of the National Council for History in Washington, said that increasing numbers of professionally trained historians such as Kashatus are leaving academia to work in other realms of history.

That reflects widespread frustration with a university system that turns out far more people with doctoral degrees than colleges and universities can ever hire. Those who do get jobs often work - as Kashatus is doing now - as adjunct professors with no chance of a permanent, tenured position.

Historical societies and museums - even a few private companies - absorb others who want jobs.

In addition, there are a few private-sector contractors who work for hire, Craig said.

He said he had never heard of anyone who had posted an hourly rate for the public on a Web site, except perhaps a genealogist.

What Kashatus likes most is the freedom that comes with independence.

A university historian, he said, has to churn out scholarly monographs read only by the small group of fellow historians in his field.

Kashatus would rather write about baseball.

The latest of his seven baseball books is the story of the greatest collapse in Philadelphia sports history: September Swoon: Richie Allen, the '64 Phillies, and Racial Integration.

Kashatus has also written about Phillies Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt, and cowrote a book about the 1980 Phillies with pitcher Tug McGraw.

"I said to myself, 'Why not go out and try to do it full time?' It gives me pleasure, and I don't have to deal with a lot of the hassle of working for an institution."

Now all he has to do is keep that up.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: consultant; history

1 posted on 05/04/2004 4:14:39 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: stainlessbanner
My daughter was punished at school yesterday for correcting her history teacher. He wanted to dazzle his students by discussing the fall of Rome. He referenced Plato and Socrates, as being Roman. My daughter pointed out that they were not Roman, but Greek, and that Plato had only visited Southern Italy as well as Egypt over the course of three decades. She explained that "The Republic" discusses Roman politics and civilization. The teacher was refering to the four works which are known as the "Last Days of Socrates", as a text which covers the fall of the Roman Empire.

Her honor card took a big hit and she's got two days of detention, which she has proclaimed her own "Trial of Socrates", sans the cocktail.......

History teachers know nothing of history based on our experience. Most of them have been pushed into it in the high schools, kicking and screaming. The good ones are shunned by typical faculty.

2 posted on 05/04/2004 5:18:02 AM PDT by blackdog (I feed the sheep the coyotes eat)
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To: blackdog
History teachers know nothing of history based on our experience

You don't need a degree in History to teach the subject in a public school, most of them have a B.S in Ed.

As an undergrad,you could easily discern who were the History Majors and the Education Majors.

The Ed.Majors never went to class,or on the rare ocassion they did thet would not answer questions or engage in a discussion,they would finish their exams in half the time that we took,and leave the room with a confused and angry look on their faces,and whenever a paper was due,there would be a long line of Ed. types waiting to tell the Prof.why their papers were not done.


3 posted on 05/04/2004 5:29:17 AM PDT by Redcoat LI ("help to drive the left one into the insanity.")
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To: Redcoat LI
I had this grad seminar, second half of the European Historiography sequence, as I recall. A couple people from the School of Ed were there. For about 6 weeks. They were really nice, and knew alot about ed theory and lesson arrangement and all that, but when they had to produce original, qulaity stuff they were wanting.

Arguably, I couldn't hang either! I cashed out with an MA in history. But like the guy in the article, have to find other stuff to do to make a buck. I work in higher ed fundraising now, do consulting work in that field when I can get gigs, and do some freelance writing when I can get it.

Snotty faculty members may sneer at this guy, or me, for not hacking it in academia, but they just don't like a fella who can take academic skills and make a buck with them in the business world.
4 posted on 05/04/2004 5:55:15 AM PDT by Gefreiter
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To: Gefreiter
Oh yeah,they drop like flies in Historiography.

I worked Construction prior to Grad school.

Nobody in the Academic realm has any idea what it means to work.

Snotty faculty members couldn't hack it in the real world take away their tenure,they'd be lost,like a lifelong politician who fails to get re-elrected,or a layed off bureaucrat.
5 posted on 05/04/2004 6:11:14 AM PDT by Redcoat LI ("help to drive the left one into the insanity.")
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To: Redcoat LI
Well, a few do but they are so few and far between. Alot of those who did any kind of manual labor did so for "street cred"; since so many are Marxists, they'd better have some kind of work on their CVs at some point.

You were construction, and probably other stuff before school. I was in the Army and worked on a loading dock for a few months after. One summer I had 2 courses and two jobs. Alot of faculty just have nothing like these experiences in their lives.

I think you would agree that tt doesn't necessarily make them bad faculty members, as they wouldn't be on the faculty if they didn't have their writing and research chops together. But there's something lacking when they have to serve as advisers or mentors.
6 posted on 05/04/2004 6:23:39 AM PDT by Gefreiter
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To: Gefreiter
I think this article should be required reading for every student in any department of history in the country.
7 posted on 05/04/2004 6:29:52 AM PDT by blanknoone (How many flips would a flip-flop flop if a flip-flop could flop flips?)
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To: Gefreiter
My husband taught at a University -- he could not agree more that the Profs could not make it in the Real World. I taught Elementary School, and the same holds true. There was so little Common Sense, it drove me NUTS. It is why we homeschooled, too.
8 posted on 05/04/2004 6:30:51 AM PDT by bboop
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