National Park Service

I’ve always been just a little jealous of those of you whose connection to the Civil War  can be traced back to a family visit to a Civil War battlefield or through reading a book such as the American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War. For me it was a random visit to the Read more

A good friend of mine who is a historian with the National Park Service offered this observation the other day: The present debate over Confederate iconography will, over time, fundamentally alter the place battlefields hold in America’s historic and cultural landscapes. He’s absolutely right. It’s hard to believe that the question of whether the National Read more

The violence in Charlottesville this past weekend has already pushed the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky to take steps to remove its Confederate monuments. A councilman in Baltimore wants to see its monument of Lee and Jackson destroyed. Protesters marched last night in Richmond down Monument Avenue. This will continue and more monuments will come down Read more

By now most of you know that just a few days ago President Obama designated Beaufort, South Carolina as the Reconstruction Era National Monument. A community of historians and politicians have worked hard to push the president to make this decision and I could not be more pleased that he has done so as one Read more

Today the National Park Service celebrates 100 years. Thank you for providing me with hundreds of hours of self reflection about our history and what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Thank you to all my friends who have devoted their careers to preserving our most important historic and natural landmarks Read more

In March 2013 I took part in a remarkable conference organized by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College that brought together academics, preservationists, consultants, historical interpreters, museum professionals, living historians, students, K-12 teachers, and new media specialists. I took part in a panel discussion and moderated one on the interpretation of United States Colored Read more

Update: Sorry to see that the staff at the Stones River National Battlefield chose to remove the post featured below from their Facebook page. That’s disappointing given the many perspectives shared in the comments section. I fully support the recent decision to remove gift items featuring the Confederate flag in National Park Service stores. In Read more

Calling All Public Historians

Yesterday’s post about my good friend John Hennessy left me wondering what, if anything, has taken place or is being planned in museums, historical societies and other institutions to help their communities make sense of the relevant history behind our ongoing and very emotional discussion about Civil War memory. It’s an opportune moment for public Read more

The High Ground Held

This morning I read through an essay by Robert K. Sutton about the National Park Service’s Holding the High Ground initiative, which grew out of a meeting in 1998 addressing concerns about the scope of Civil War battlefield interpretation. NPS historians were already thinking carefully about what it means to interpret Civil War sites even Read more