Sense of History
The Place of the Past in American Life
Publication Year: 2001
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Table of Contents
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THE ESSAYS IN this book explore the various ways Americans have understood and used the past in the twentieth century. I drafted them over a span of a decade, and although portions of some have appeared as conference papers or articles, they have all been extensively revised to create a...
1. Sense of History
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WHEN I RECALL my education as a historian, I think of two tables. One was located where I went to graduate school, at Johns Hopkins University, an ancient rectangular dark cherry that filled the seminar room on the second floor of Gilman Hall. Legend had it that the first generation...
2. Remembering a War
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THROUGHOUT THE twentieth century, Americans have always had a war that they could remember. World War I veterans lived to see their children fight in World War II and Korea; World War II veterans watched their children struggle in Vietnam. The American landscape, relatively unscarred...
3. Celebrating the City
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IN THE PRECEDING chapter, we saw how the residents of one New England municipality set aside a place in their town to remember a national event, and how this place soon became an important symbol of local community identity. Indeed, many of the public historical places we create—war memorials, history...
4. Watching The Civil War
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THE MARRIAGE OF history and popular culture that was evident in San Francisco’s Portolá Festival has existed throughout the twentieth century, and not only in civic celebrations designed to communicate a political message to the public. Rest stops along highways are full of racks brimming with brochures...
5. Place and Placelessness in American History
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THE DESIRE of those watching The Civil War for a connection, if only through a television screen, with the actual places where their ancestors had been, reveals the importance of emotional attachments to particular places as a vital component of Americans’ sense of history. We professional historians...
6. Rethinking New England Town Character
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WHEN CHRISTOPHER Kenneally interviewed Ken Burns for USAir magazine, he traveled to Burns’s home in Walpole, New Hampshire, which he described as ‘‘a small quintessential New England village on the banks of the Connecticut River.’’¹ Keneally’s words bring to mind a picture of white...
7. Making Places in California
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ONE YEAR after completing my report to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities on town character in New England, I moved to the Central Valley of California. This was where I wanted to be. I was married to a Californian, and thanks to a one-year fellowship from the National Endowment for...
Conclusion: Finding Our Place
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RETURNING FROM California, I soon find myself back in the classroom. After the excitement of living someplace new, in a part of the country with lots of new construction and few clouds in the sky, it is hard to readjust to the humid East, the stale air of the crumbling concrete building in which I work, the...
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Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2001