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American Historical Pageantry: The Uses of Tradition in the Early Twentieth Century / Edition 1

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Overview

What images shape Americans' perceptions of their past? How do particular versions of history become the public history? And how have these views changed over time? David Glassberg explores these important questions by examining the pageantry craze of the early twentieth century, a time when thousands of Americans joined in civic celebrations by acting out dramatic episodes from their towns' history. His analysis contributes a new perspective to the debate about the allegedly declining interest of Americans in their own history.

At its peak, between 1910 and 1917, pageantry blended elements of the historical oration and the carnival parade and served as a vehicle for local boosterism, patriotic moralizing, and popular entertainment. Many of its promoters, immersed in the world of progressive reform movements, also viewed pageantry as a dramatic public ritual that could bring about social and political transformation. But embedded within the pageant form was a glorification of a distant past at the expense of the present, a facet of American culture that would later become even more prominent.

By the mid-twentieth century, Glassberg shows, public imagery had begun to depict the past as something without ongoing significance for either the present or the future. At the same time, narratives of local community developmentt had given way to an emphasis on national unity, and the popularity of pageantry as a way of representing history in civic celebrations waned.

By 1937, when Paul Green's The Lost Colony opened in Manteo, North Carolina, the historical pageant had become primarily a professionally produced drama depicting a particular period of the past frozen in time for tourists rather than the reenactment of a larger sweep of town history by and for its residents.

Illustrated with more than 100 black-and-white photographs, this portrait of pageantry's development and decline makes public historical celebrations come alive once again.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This is and will be the definitive study of historical pageantry in the United States.

Journal of American History

[Glassberg's] analyses of the pageants are wonderful, complex, and well thought-out.

American Historical Review

This book deals intelligently, clearly, and exhaustively with the subject of pageantry around the turn of the twentieth century.

Reviews in American History

American Historical Pageantry will be the standard work in the pageant movement in America for some time to come.

Roger D. Abrahams, University of Pennsylvania

David Glassberg deserves high praise for his original and exhaustive research into a fascinating yet neglected subject.

Michael Kammen, Cornell University

Booknews
Loose-leaf three ring notebook binding. Designed for school and public libraries that need copyright-free reproducible illustrations that can be used by students seeking visual materials to augment and enhance essays and reports. 275 noteworthy events printed on heavy removable pages are organized in ten constitutional categories from colonial drawings to the present day. Each entry is selected to reproduce clearly; illustrate an important aspect of the issue, and has a brief caption explaining the illustration. Unfortunately the photographs are not clear and the captions are often superficial. No bibliography. An exploration of the development and decline of the pageantry craze of the early 20th century: thousands of Americans joining in civic celebrations by acting out dramatic episodes from their town's history. Glassberg's (history, U. of Massachusetts at Amherst) research sheds light on the evolution and implications of local boosterism, patriotic moralizing, and Americans' sense of their past and future. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807842867
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1990
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 403
  • Product dimensions: 0.90 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

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