Ethics Are Always Important

While reading the different ethics policies I started to wonder if all professions have ethical codes to follow. Obviously there rules that all people in professions should follow like equality, no discrimination, and others, but does every profession have a written out set of rules to follow with it comes to things like this. Reading these guidelines for public historians made me wonder if academic historians have the same or similar guidelines. If so I know a few people that could afford to read them.

NCPH’s “Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct” is laid out in a way that is very easy to follow. They all seem like super straight forward rules that everyone (not just public historians) should be able to easily follow. They are about helping your fellow historians, the public, and the employers that you are working for at the time. I like how it is broken down in a way that you know which rule goes to which type of audience, too (for example, “Responsibility to the Public” among others). This code of ethics focused more on the person and how they should act within the profession which sometimes needs to be defined (no matter how trivial you think the rule is).

AASLH’s “Statement of Professional Standards and Ethics” seems to be broken down more into who works at a historical site, as well as, the physical site and objects themselves. I think that our code for MOTM should be more like this one because it should include codes about the collection itself and how it should be handled.

AAM’s “Code of Ethics for Museums” is more similar to AASLH than NCPH. Because it is made for museums it breaks down the codes into categories like “Governance”, “Collections”, “Programs”, etc. These are all things that museums (not necessarily Public Historians themselves) would have to follow. I think that our code would benefit from modeling this set of codes as well.

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I am a graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette studying Public History.

2 thoughts on “Ethics Are Always Important”

  1. I agree with you about how our code of ethics should reflect an importance on collections management. All of our objects will be loaned to us or borrowed so I feel that our biggest ethical concern is taking proper care of historical pieces that don’t belong to us.


  2. As I read the Codes of Ethics for these various associations/institutions, it made me wonder who holds the practitioners responsible for their actions. I think our Code will be determined by what exactly goes into our exhibit. If it has more objects, we can let it reflect our collection. If it consists of more panels, the integrity of our research will need to be upheld.


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