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.

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.



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Marissa H. Petrou, PhD

Director of the Center

Assistant Professor of History, Thelma and Jamie Guilbeau/BORSF Endowed Professor of History Instruction

Director of Public History


Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles

Teaching and Research Interests:

Public History; History of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Modern Germany

Email: marissa.petrou@louisiana.edu


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Ian Beamish, PhD

Assistant Professor of History/ Dr. James Wilson/BORSF Eminent Scholar Endowed Professor in Southern Studies

Former Co-Director of the Center


Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University

M.A., Johns Hopkins University

B.A., University of Alberta

Teaching Interests:

Enslavement, Public History, History of Capitalism

Areas of Research:

Enslavement, Capitalism, Nineteenth-Century United States




Liz Skilton, PhD

Assistant Professor of History, J. J. Burdin & Helen Burdin/BORSF Endowed Professor in Louisiana Studies

Former Co-Director of the Center

Teaching and Research Interests:

US Gender & Environmental History, History of Disaster, Louisiana History, Oral History




Associate Professor, Department Head

Teaching Interests:

History of U.S. Foreign Relations, Twentieth-Century U.S. History, Transnational History




Michael martin, Phd

Cheryl Courrégé Burguières/Board of Regents Professor in History


Ph.D., University of Arkansas, B.A. and M. A., University of Southwestern Louisiana

Teaching Interest:

Louisiana, the American South, and public history

Areas of Research:

modern Louisiana politics and culture



Brittany Cook, Phd

Assistant Professor of Geography

PhD, Geography, University of Kentucky

Teaching Interests:

environmental, political, and Middle East geographies and GIS for the Liberal Arts

Areas of Research:

Political Ecology, Feminist Theory, Food and Agriculture, and Development




Graduate Assistants

Stephanie Fontenot Sydney Shuherk

Public Outreach Coordinator Graduate Assistant

stephanie.fontenot1@louisiana.edu sydney.shuherk1@louisiana.edu

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Stephanie fontenot

As a Public History graduate student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I am interested in collections management, conservation, preservation, emergency preparedness, and salvage techniques for collections damaged by water, mud, soot, and ash. After working with the archivist and historian for McIlhenny Company, Dr. Shane K. Bernard, to create an emergency preparedness and salvage plan for the McIlhenny Co. & Avery Island, Inc. Archives, I became aware of the dangers to collections housed in south Louisiana. I found a passion for learning how to prevent damage to collections and rescuing artifacts once a disaster has occurred. I have interned in the Collections Department at the National WWII Museum located in New Orleans, LA, where I cataloged and translated collections containing German propaganda leaflets, personal and governmental letters, and photograph captions. I am currently interning at the McIlhenny Co. and Avery Island Inc. Archives where I catalog and inventory collections, assist in giving private tours of the Tabasco Factory, assist presentations on the history of Avery Island and its inhabitants, and assist in exhibit planning. As the Public Outreach Coordinator for the Guilbeau Center, I am working with the Center’s director Dr. Marissa Petrou to create Land Acknowledgement Guidelines by collaborating with local indigenous nations. My goal while at the Center is to bring the tools, resources, and programming that the Guilbeau Center provides to all University departments and make them accessible to UL Lafayette students and the broader Lafayette, LA, community.

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Sydney shuherk

As a Public History Graduate student here at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I aim to be educated in the field of museum work including, but not limited to, working in education programs for children and adult visitors as well as being involved in the curation of exhibitions. I am an Indiana native so I have spent the last few years working in a variety of museums local to the Fort Wayne area. I was lucky enough to have my first experience working in a museum as an intern in archives and digitization at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum in Auburn, IN. I also worked with ACD to continue work in small collections in an effort to help organize and accession many items donated upon the museums opening in 1974. So many of these items had never been properly inventoried and inputted into the museums databases. My work at ACD aided me in the realization of how much assistance many museums established in the 1970’s required to update their collections and exhibitions. A number of museums that opened their doors in the 70’s must face the fact that museums in the present day are evolving from the stereotypical “stuff in cases” and “words on a wall” to interactive and modern exhibitions that include the visitor and submerge them into an exciting, yet educational, experience. This led me to other opportunities to make a difference locally when I was granted a position to organize and create an inventory system for the Greater Fort Wayne Aviation Museum. Finally, I spent the duration of my undergraduate studies taking practicum courses in the field of museum studies located at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, allowing me a look into another variety of museum. It was there at FWMoA, through my courses and volunteer docenting, that I developed a distinct passion for education and curation programs. As a first year graduate assistant to the Guilbeau Center, I very much look forward to promoting the growth of not only the center, but public history as a valuable field applicable to people and students even beyond the history department, as well as ensuring that the Guilbeau Center for Public History is an accessible resource available across the university to all UL students in all departments.