public history

  • Can America Handle a 250th Anniversary?

    John Dichtl of the American Association for State and Local History says that Americans want "more help navigating these times, which are probably only going to get worse,” portending brutal battles over the upcoming commemoration. 

  • Juneteenth has Gone National—We Must Preserve its Local Meanings

    by Tiya Miles

    Juneteenth celebrations have long been couched in local Black communities' preserved rituals that express particular ideas about heritage and the meaning of freedom. While a national commemoration of emancipation is welcome, history will be lost if local observances are swamped by a national holiday.

  • The Modern Relics in Crow's Cabinet of Curiosities

    by Matthew Dennis

    Understanding Harlan Crow's collection, including Nazi memorabilia, as a set of relics (and not trophies or investments) helps to clarify the unease Americans feel about his understanding of power and cultivation of relationships with people of influence over the federal judiciary.

  • Museum Celebrates Sweet Smell of... Failure

    The Museum of Failure is a global traveling exhibition that celebrates the signal marketplace flops of capitalism, from the infamous Edsel and New Coke to the obscure, highlighting the vagaries of consumer taste and historical contingency. 

  • Can Colonial Williamsburg Do Living History Better?

    Historian Karin Wulf argues that the leadership of Colonial Williamsburg has steered an effective course through the conflicting imperatives of nostalgia, heroic storytelling, and the harsh inequalities of the colonial era.   

  • Engaging Toxic Nostalgia on Confederate Memorial Day

    by Richard Brown

    "For those of us who have a visceral objection to Confederate Memorial Day—who are appalled at not only commemorating but celebrating an economic and social system that oppressed a race for over two centuries—how should we engage a worldview that doesn’t see the harm of such celebrations, or that embraces the mythology of the Lost Cause?"

  • Wealthy Texas Activist Sues President of State's Historical Association

    The suit by J.P. Bryan, a retired oilman and the executive director of the private Texas State Historical Association, which produces many important educational materials, claims that the board has too many academics and is too critical of the Anglo settlers of the state. Historian Nancy Baker Jones, the TSHA President, is the principal target. 

  • Preserving the Public History of the Fort Pillow Massacre

    by Erin L. Thompson

    On April 12, 1864 Confederates under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest slaughtered members of the US Colored Troops after they had surrendered. Until recently, the state of Tennessee has neglected the site, making it difficult for the public to explore that history.

  • The Victims of Communism Museum is a Propaganda Machine for Normalizing the Hard Right

    by Billie Anania

    The museum, which counts numerous Nazi sympathizers among its founders, peddles a spurious notion of "double genocide" that lets fascists off the hook by promoting the number of 100 million victims of communism. How do they get that tally? Including every German soldier killed on the eastern front and every victim of COVID-19. 

  • Exhibiting the Black Panthers' Ephemera

    An exhibition of the radical group's posters illustrates the importance-and difficulty-of documenting political movements that used visual communications through ephemeral media like postering and newspapers. 

  • 8 Sites Illuminating African American History Show the Need for Preservation

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation is working against time and redevelopment to prevent the loss of key sites of African American history across the nation. So far the project has helped protect a museum of the Buffalo Soldiers, Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, and Louis Armstrong's house in Queens, among other sites.