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University of Massachusetts Press
Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History

Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History

by Denise MeringoloDenise Meringolo
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The rapid expansion of the field of public history since the 1970s has led many to believe that it is a relatively new profession. In this book, Denise D. Meringolo shows that the roots of public history actually reach back to the nineteenth century, when the federal government entered into the work of collecting and preserving the nation’s natural and cultural resources. Scientists conducting research and gathering specimens became key figures in a broader effort to protect and interpret the nation’s landscape. Their collaboration with entrepreneurs, academics, curators, and bureaucrats alike helped pave the way for other governmental initiatives, from the Smithsonian Institution to the parks and monuments today managed by the National Park Service. All of these developments included interpretive activities that shaped public understanding of the past. Yet it was not until the emergence of the education-oriented National Park Service history program in the 1920s and 1930s that public history found an institutional home that grounded professional practice simultaneously in the values of the emerging discipline and in government service. Even thereafter, tensions between administrators in Washington and practitioners on the ground at National Parks, monuments, and museums continued to define and redefine the scope and substance of the field. The process of definition persists to this day, according to Meringolo, as public historians establish a growing presence in major universities throughout the United States and abroad.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558499409
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 06/30/2012
Series: Public History in Historical Perspective Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Denise D. Meringolo is associate professor of history and director of public history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: A New Kind of Technician In Search of the Culture of Public History xiii

Part 1 Science and Government Defining the Landscape

1 A Matter of National Dignity Education and Federal Authority 3

2 Managing the Landscape National Parks, National Monuments, and the Use of Public Land 26

Part 2 Turning Nature into History The National Park Service and the Culture of Public History

3 Losing Their Identity National Park Service Museums and Federal Collections 59

4 Ignorant and Local-Minded Influences Historic Sites and the Expansion of the National Park Service 84

5 Real Park Service Men On the Ground and in the Books 109

Part 3 Whom Do We Serve? Public History and the Question of Authority

6 Park Service Diggers Public Historians and the Problem of Status 131

Conclusion Toward a New Genealogy of Public History 153

A Note on Sources 169

Notes 171

Index 199

Illustrations follow page 128

What People are Saying About This

Anne Mitchell Whisnant

A valuable contribution that illuminates the key role of the National Park Service in shaping the field—offered at a crucial time when public history programs are expanding, public sector support is waning, and the field is going through a period of redefinition. We need this book now.

Customer Reviews