Guilbeau Center for Public History

The Guilbeau Center for Public History is an unparalleled research center dedicated to the study and practice of Public History. As a state and regional leader for public history, its projects receive national attention for their originality and contribution to the field. We are dedicated to helping public historians incorporate diversity, inclusion, equity and accessibility in their work and we focus on projects that decolonize public history. This means specifically that we support projects that seek to expose and dismantle systemic racism, sexism, ableism, antiLGBTQ+ bias and other various and invidious forms of discrimination that persist in mainstream society. As historians, we rely on rigorous historical research to demonstrate the distinctions between public memory, falsified historical narratives and evidence based historical facts.

The Guilbeau Center for Public History is housed in the Department of History, Geography & Philosophy at University of Louisiana, Lafayette. It is one of four research centers at the University’s College of Liberal Arts.

The Guilbeau Center offers new digital humanities tools for data analysis, archiving, and digital exhibits; video and audio recording equipment; scanners for maps and 3D objects and 3D printing. The Guilbeau Center also consists of a recording studio, conference room, and project space for the production of podcasts and documentary films, collection of oral histories, digitization of maps, curation of digital and analog history exhibits, organizing public history colloquia and training workshops in all the new software and technical equipment. The Guilbeau Center supports ongoing public history programming and courses for students at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette.

Our current research projects include:

Honor Native Land: Indigenous communities owned the land on which many institutions of research and education have been built. Academic conferences and events are also routinely held in these spaces. This land is essential to the identity and worldview of Indigenous groups. Often these lands were taken under unjust and violent circumstances resulting in forced relocation that continues to have devastating effects on native communities. Drafting statements of land acknowledgment are one small way to start honoring Native land. Working with Elders from numerous Tribal Nations, and Dr. Rosanna Dent (NJIT) we have put together several resources for recognizing the Indigenous history of the land on which scholars in the US live and work. 

Do No Harm: The Healing Touch of Louisiana Women in Medicine, Louisiana State Museum, Baton Rouge, 2021: A history of the barrier breakers that revolutionized the development of medicine, from the mothers of gynecology — the enslaved women who were involuntarily experimented upon by white male medical professionals — to Black MDs like Dr. Viola Coleman Johnson who fought against segregation to improve professional medical training opportunities for African Americans.

History of Knowledge Digital Database – A Collaboration with the History of Science Society and The Research Center for Arts, Society and Culture (CELAT) at Universite Laval for National History Day

Healing in the Bayou: A podcast series that looks at the history of medicine in Louisiana. Each episode includes interviews with community members to learn about different experiences with mainstream medicine or alternative healing practices, including midwives, traiteurs, and traditional Indigenous healers. Seasons two and three examine examines the shared histories of COVID19 and the movement for Black lives in Southwest Louisiana.

Extended Reality and Social Justice in History Museums investigates 1) how virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality have been employed in history exhibits aimed at social justice; and 2) in light of COVID-19, how successful virtual tours of analog social justice history exhibits are at achieving their goals.
Current exhibits include:

The Practice of Healing: Adaption and Development in Medical History

Historical Stuff: Culture, Religion and Science in the Ancient World

History Set in Plastic (on display in H. L. Griffin 1st floor and 5th floor lobbies)