Public Historians and Confederate Monuments
Looking for a little help today. In about a month I will hopefully begin to receive individual chapters from the contributors to a book of essays that I am putting together on how the Civil War is being interpreted at museums and historic sites. This project is under contract with Rowan & Littlefield and will be included as part of their “Interpreting History Series”.
My introduction will explore the recent history of how public historians have approached this topic going back to the 1960s, but I am now thinking about exploring how museums and historic sites are addressing the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate monuments. This may get folded into my introduction, but depending on what I find, it may turn into a separate chapter. I already have a co-authored chapter that focuses on the Confederate battle flag that will be included in the book.
To my surprise I have found very few examples of museums and historic sites that are actively engaging their communities about these important issues, even in places where the issue is being debated. I can’t think of a more opportune moment to do so. I am not only interested in examples of public engagement, but with the limits of what public historians can offer. For example, we constantly hear about the importance of wayside markers to properly interpret monuments, but it is not at all clear to me that this is what those who are the most engaged either need or want. Somehow, we just assume that this is a solution.
Examples can come from museums and historic sites large and small. Please provide a link if available and please don’t leave information on this site’s Facebook page. I would love to have everything together in one place. Thanks for your help.