Museums, Monuments, and National Parks
Toward a New Genealogy of Public History
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Massachusetts Press
Title Page, Copyright
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Over the long course of this project, I have accumulated many debts, and despite my best efforts to acknowledge all of them here, I am sure to have neglected mentioning many of the kindnesses shown me. I am nonetheless deeply grateful for all the help, encouragement, and friendship I have received from many quarters. ...
Prologue: A New Kind of Technician: In Search of the Culture of Public History
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When Verne Chatelain, the first chief historian of the National Park Service, recounted his efforts to create a “new kind of technician” during the 1930s, he implicitly understood that the historians he brought into his division were the inheritors of a distinct professional genealogy.1 ...
Part 1. Science and Government: Defining the Landscape
1. A Matter of National Dignity: Education and Federal Authority
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During most of the nineteenth century both the study of nature and the study of history were perceived by many as a diversion for the leisured class. By the middle of the 1830s, however, some began to argue that research was more than a private intellectual pursuit. ...
2. Managing the Landscape: National Parks, National Monuments, and the Use of Public Land
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The Civil War accelerated changes already taking shape in the nation’s economy, politics, and social life. Nonetheless, for many Americans the dissolution of the union and the end of slavery created a sense of sudden disruption. In the remaining decades of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the new one, a cult of novelty emerged ...
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
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In 1910 twenty-three-year-old Jesse Logan Nusbaum spent ten weeks scrambling on ancient, crumbling walls carved into the sheer face of a cliff. Barely a year into his job as Edgar Lee Hewett’s field assistant, Nusbaum was at work, repairing the cliff dwelling on behalf of the School of American Archaeology. ...
4. Ignorant and Local-Minded Influences: Historic Sites and the Expansion of the National Park Service
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At one point, exhausted from yet another prolonged debate over the Hetch Hetchy dam proposal, Senator James Reed of Missouri complained, “The Senate of the United States has devoted a full week of time to discussing the disposition of about two square miles of land located at a point remote from civilization in the very heart of the Sierra Mountains ...
5. Real Park Service Men: On the Ground and in the Books
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Horace Albright took over as director of the National Park Service in January 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression. As the economy worsened, Albright found himself in a familiar position. As acting director during World War I, he had worked on a shoestring. ...
Part 3. Whom Do We Serve?: Public History and the Question of Authority
6. Park Service Diggers: Public Historians and the Problem of Status
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Park Service holdings, staff, and attendance had expanded exponentially by the end of the 1930s. In 1931 the average number of personnel employed by the Park Service each month was 2,044. In 1935 it was 17,047. During the same period, the number of park museums nearly doubled from twenty-seven in 1933 to fifty-three in 1936. ...
Conclusion: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History
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By the 1930s the National Park Service had become a standard bearer for historical planning and interpretation. Under the leadership of Harold Albright, a small but significant group of men crafted new strategies for the expansion of park holdings and the education of tourists, introducing history into the National Park Service management structure. ...
A Note on Sources
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Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 12 illus.
Publication Year: 2012
Series Title: Public History in Historical Perspective
Series Editor Byline: Marla Miller