But if you look at say, Arizona State University, (which claims to be one of the largest, if not the largest university in the United States), and closely examine their curriculum you find that they have three colleges that might deal with history:
- College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
- New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences
- School of Letters and Sciences
Altogether ASU offers about 128 or so different undergraduate degrees with one each in "History" in each of these three colleges. So if you went to ASU, you could get a BA degree in history from each of these different units. So how do they differ?
A degree in history from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences requires a total of 120 hours with about 38 of those hours in history related classes. The non-history classes are in general education, English, Languages, computers etc. None of those courses, as far as I can tell, even mention "genealogy" as a subject.
ASU does have non-credit classes in genealogy through the ASU Retirees Association held at the Family History Center in the LDS Training Center (Institute of Religion) adjacent to the campus.
The Bachelor of Arts in history allows students to focus on a single geographic concentration. There are four geographic concentrations: Asia, Europe, Latin America and United States. Students must take five courses within a single concentration. Europe (EU) and United States (US) students must take two courses outside US and EU. All students must complete one course from HST 302-307. All students must also complete HST 300, taken in the junior year, and HST 498, taken in the senior year.
Students must complete 30 hours of history course work (HST prefix only); 18 hours must be upper division. A minimum of 12 hours upper division hours must be completed at the Tempe campus. A minimum grade of "C" (2.00) is required in all history course work. A minimum of a 2.25 GPA must be attained in history course work.There are only a very limited number of universities in the United States that offer courses that include genealogy as even a consideration. Why is this?
The answer is both complex and simple. Genealogy is not considered an "academic" subject. Merely documenting peoples' lives is not considered to be something worthy of university level study. Of course, if you want to study the life of a "prominent" person, that becomes history. Here is an example of part of a course description for a graduate level course in Historical Methods from ASU:
This course serves as an introduction to different methodologies and theoretical frameworks used by historians. Professor Manchester will coordinate the course and be present for each session, but most weeks different professors from the history department will take turns teaching either their areas of theoretical expertise, or methodologies with which they are particularly familiar. The course will introduce the students to the major approaches to history they are still employed by historians while also exploring some sub-fields of history. Sessions will include topics such as intellectual history, social history, cultural history, post-colonialism, post-modernism, the new economic history, history of the nation-state, collective memory and the integration of categories such as race, class, and gender into the reconstruction of the past, while also highlighting specific philosophers, such as Weber, Marx and Foucault, who have had a profound impact on how historians approach their craft. Requirements: Weekly essays.Interestingly, if you read the graduate course descriptions carefully, you will find that nearly every skill they purport to enhance relates directly to doing genealogical research as well as general historical research. But at the same time, you can appreciate how different academic historical studies are from what we do as genealogists.
Brigham Young University (BYU) offers a degree in Family History - Genealogy. Comparing that degree to the History degree offered at ASU, the genealogy student at BYU actually take a lot more courses in history than those who are majoring in history at ASU. Out of the 120 hours required for graduation at BYU, a genealogy student might have as many as 79 hours of history related classes and at a minimum, at least ten more class hours than required for a history degree at ASU.
Here is the description of a degree in history from BYU:
History stands at the heart of a liberal arts bridge between the humanities and social sciences. Historical understanding is thus basic to the life of an educated human being. As such, it is the ideal major for the student who wants the broad educational background for entrance into professions such as law, government service, or business, or who wants a liberal arts education. History can also be valuable training for someone who plans to teach.Now, that statement about the basic nature of history, where are we as genealogists? How many of us understand the basic nature of history? Do we really understand the history of the people we are researching? I find that most genealogists only have the vaguest idea of history. I also find that many historians only have the vaguest idea of what genealogy is all about. Why is this the case?