American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Looking at the Past and Future of Public History as ASHP Turns 35

Published February 15, 2017

On October 21, 2016 ASHP/CML celebrated the 35th anniversary of its founding with a half-day symposium devoted to assessing the accomplishments, missed opportunities, and prospective future goals of U.S. public history. 

More than 100 people attended the event, which included two round table discussions, a keynote speech, a poster exhibit, and closing reception. ASHP co-founder Stephen Brier, Executive Director Joshua Brown, and Board Chair Carol Groneman welcomed the crowd and provided a brief overview of the organization and its past and current programs. The round table panelists discussed a wide range of issues and challenges facing public historians including the demands of fundraising for collecting, preserving, and presenting the histories of LGBTQ communities; democratization of archival materials through opening family archives or aggregating online community archives; ways to involve the public in the process of making history snd not just consuming it; and illuminating the intersections of history and social justice. Keynote speaker James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, argued that all historians need to become public historians as he examined the commemorative landscape of the Civil War and Jim Crow eras, which too often perpetuates false histories and reinforces racial inequality.

The proceedings of the symposium can be viewed online here.

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