In a recent post, I asked for recommendations for advice on books to use in a public history course. I suggested four that I used in an historical interpretation course:

  • Jennifer L. Eichstedt and Stephen Small, Representations of Slavery: Race and Ideology in Southern Plantation Museums (Smithsonian Books, 2002)
  • Michael Kammen, Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture (Vintage, 1993)
  • James Loewen, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong (Touchstone, 2000)
  • Timothy B. Smith, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh: History, Memory, and the Establishment of a Civil War National Military Park (University of Tennessee, 2004)
  • Mike Wallace, Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Temple University Press)

Readers e-mailed and commented with some other recommendations:

    • The Public Historian (journal)
    • William T. Alderson and Shirley Payne Low, Interpretation of Historic Sites
    • John Bodnar, Remaking America: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Patriotism in the Twentieth Century
    • James Deetz, In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life
    • James O. and Lois E. Horton, eds., Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory
    • Barbara Howe and Emory Kemp, Public History: An Introduction
    • David Kyvig and Myron Marty, Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You
    • Phyllis Leffler and Joseph Brent, Public History Readings
    • Edward T. Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, eds., History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past
    • Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen, The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life
    • Donovan Rypkema, The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide
    • Thomas Schlereth, ed., Material Culture Studies in America
    • David Thelen, ed., Memory and American History
    • Freeman Tilden, Interpreting Our Heritage

My thanks to Andrew Duppstadt, Rachel Meredith, and Nan Morgan for their suggestions. I also want to add one more book that I think is pertinent for historians today: Gary B. Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunn, History on Trial: Culture Wars and the Teaching of the Past (1997). I think the United States is seeing the effect of the “culture wars,” both inside and outside the classroom; this book explains the history culture wars of the 1990s.

2 thoughts on “Recommendations for Books to Use in Public History Course

  1. I didn’t know about this book until today when a post came through on the Library of Virginia listserv. It sounds to me that it would be a good companion to Patricia West’s book Domesticating History.

    Seth C. Bruggeman. Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument (University of Georgia Press (November 15, 2008).

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