Category: Public History Matters

“NFLplayer PatTillman joined U.S. Army in 2002. He was killed in action 2004. He fought 4our country/freedom.” ~President Donald Trump’s 2017 social media comment used to condemn NFL players who protest during the national anthem   “The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart—no matter those views—is what Pat […]

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Most people want to learn the truth about history, even if it rattles common sense or deflates comfortable–but dubious–accounts of history. We recently posted a provocative mini-essay about a particular populist conception of WWII veterans–that they were all heroes. Of course, many were. Some, if we are to be truthful with ourselves, were not. During […]

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History is never over and done with—never complete, never static. Visit a local history museum today, and what you see there has been collected, preserved, interpreted, and presented to us–today (no matter how dusty, musty, and time-worn the exhibit behind glass). We are not time travelers, so the only history we know is happening right […]

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Most public historians assume their displays, exhibits, explications, and events will be received and reviewed intelligently by visitors to their museums and historical sites.  In fact, it is ethical standard practice for public historians to seek critical feedback and commentary on their work; the input helps them improve quality, accuracy, and professionalism. Exhibits, artifact displays, […]

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Dorthea Lange, who photographed some of the most stunning portraits of The Great Depression, once said, “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” And for public historians, these representational “instances” help us preserve, document, and better understand the world. In short, photographs reveal who we are. In the age […]

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