Trudy Huskamp Peterson
Over the past decade, professionals working to reform justice systems and reestablish the rule of law in countries that previously had repressive regimes developed a framework for thinking about the demands that arise for dealing with the brutal heritage of government repression. The framework has four parts: holding perpetrators accountable, ensuring that there is no recurrence by reforming institutions and vetting personnel, seeking the truth of what happened to individuals and to the society as a whole, and obtaining reparation for the harm done, personally or collectively. Each of these demands can be met through various mechanisms, but all of them depend on archives. Rebuilding the justice sector and the nation through access to archives is a vital element in coming to terms with the past. The role of archivists as duty bearers for human rights is increasingly important.
This chapter traces the separation of preserved historical farm landscapes from working agriculture over the two-century history of industrial ascendancy, the dominance of fossil fuels after World War II, and the emergence of a for-profit/nonprofit and public/private divide within the increasingly revitalized world of small-scale farming. It argues that there are several benefits to public historians of aligning their work more closely with “local food” movement activities and activism and that these new alliances can make public history a more consequential participant in the broader civic project of understanding and adapting to many environmental and economic changes . The chapter presents examples of emerging projects that do seek to connect directly with food-movement goals, including through engagement with issues of social, environmental, and economic justice related to food production, access, and consumption.
How can we as oral and public historians harness the power of place in our research and interpretive practice? The built environment’s potential as a prompt to remember has been heralded by many scholars drawn to the so-called mobility turn in the social sciences and humanities. This new paradigm is encouraging scholars and artists to engage with the materiality of the built and natural environments and with communities themselves. This chapter examines the ways in which oral and public historians have harnessed the power of place in situ when interpreting transformative urban and economic change: deindustrialization, gentrification, modernization, and renewal. It offers the notion of “brownfield public history” to denote industrial heritage projects that are bound-up in these ongoing socio-economic and political processes.
This chapter considers the business of history in the context of the common business mission to satisfy customers and employees while generating sufficient profits to sustain the enterprise. It emphasizes the customer’s role in defining markets for history and explores how customers value history to establish identity, to obtain and apply historical knowledge, or for entertainment. It argues that history businesses need professional historians who are competitive, collaborative, and capable while suggesting criteria for good history and skill sets for marketable historians. Finally, it briefly highlights the role of money in fueling and measuring business success while challenging the notion that history produced for a profit is inherently untrustworthy.
Since the popular emergence of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s, nothing has been clearer about the digital environment than that it changes at a breakneck pace, making it a constant challenge of adaptation for content providers. Public historians who may have come of age in the context of writing either concise wall labels for the public or extended scholarly articles and conference papers for their fellow historians might find the pace and the level of flexibility and interactivity of the Web disconcerting, but in the end, the advantages for the practice of public history are extensive. Breaking the constraints of a physical site by effectively using the Web leaves public historians constrained only by their time, resources, and imagination. This chapter deals specifically with the various modes of communication that are available to public historians through the use of new media.
This chapter defines community in its broadest sense as shared experience based on ethnicity, racial origins, religion, geography, or other cultural values. It provides examples of public history projects in museums, preservation of historical resources, and oral history that demonstrate how the collaborative nature of community history requires shared authority, dialogue, and participatory management. These projects exemplify best practices for successful community-based history that balance experience with expertise; historical analysis with current-day relevance; and inner dialogue with public discourse. The chapter considers why community history matters as a form of civic dialogue and how emerging technology may impact and challenge public history dialogue in the future.
From Environmental Liability to Community Asset: Public History, Communities, and Environmental Reclamation
T. Allan Comp
This chapter explores linking economic redevelopment with a recognition of regional legacy. It provided an opportunity to apply public history to real-world needs and to do something with history on a larger scale and led to the work discussed here. “AMD&ART” is now both the name of a park in Vintondale, Pennsylvania, and the name of an idea, a commitment to interdisciplinary work in the service of community aspirations to address environmental challenges. As an idea, AMD&ART is a lasting antidote to the complex problems of coal country that is, and in fact must be, cultural and environmental; only a place-based multidisciplinary solution that starts with good history has the power to transform environmental liabilities into community assets that engage a broad spectrum of support.
Government-supported history is as broad and many faceted as the field of public history itself, including not only research and public programming in museums and historic sites but also client-oriented research in the executive, legislative, and military branches of government. This chapter focuses on the work of historians who help to solve problems and provide context for the ongoing work of government agencies and institutions. Serving policy and decision makers, they capture and preserve records, artifacts, and other historical materials; they write institutional histories and policy analysis and they help answer inquiries from citizens and journalists about the work of government. Historians who do this work may be permanent government employees, but they may also be contractors for government agencies, serve as researchers and writers for independent government commissions, or staff special government-funded projects housed at educational and nonprofit institutions.
This chapter provides a guide for history and heritage professionals in navigating the United Nations. The chapter is divided in two parts. The first section examines the history and heritage policy work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO). UNESCO is the main UN body to set standards for history and heritage professions. The second section turns the focus back onto the United Nations as an object of historical study. This section discusses major examples of historical projects about the United Nations. Overall, the chapter explains the origins of UN involvement in heritage and history, describes the relevant structures and functions in the United Nations and UNESCO, and discusses some of the outcomes of history and heritage activities with which it has been involved. The chapter argues for the importance of studying UN history, as well as engaging more closely with its policy work.
In the nineteenth century, elites saw museums as a tool to shape a citizenry, to mold a national identity. Even as the New Social History of the 1960s pushed for a more inclusive history, the idea of a shared American identity remained largely intact. In the 1990s, however, museums started to think of identity as more multifaceted and fragmented. History became a collection of stories whose morals and even main characters varied according to one’s perspective. Exhibitions encouraged visitors to explore their individual identities, and ethnically specific museums emerged to reinforce particular community identities. Recent years have seen another shift: some museums see their job less as to reinforce visitors’ identities than to show how identity works—how it is continually negotiated by individuals, communities, and cultures.