Slavery And Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2006-04-01
  • Publisher: PERSEUS BOOKS

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Preeminent historians explore how the most controversial aspects of the American past are documented. In recent years, the culture wars have included arguments about the way that slavery is taught and remembered in books, films, television programs, historical sites, and museums. In the first attempt to examine this phenomenon, Slavery and Public History looks at recent controversies surrounding the interpretation of slavery's history in the public arena, with contributions by such noted historians as Ira Berlin, David W. Blight, and Gary B. Nash. From the cancellation of the Library of Congress's "Back of the Big House" slavery exhibit at the request of the institution's African American employees, who found the visual images of slavery too distressing, to the public reaction to DNA findings confirming Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave Sally Hemings, Slavery and Public History takes on contemporary reactions to the fundamental contradiction of American history--the existence of slavery in a country dedicated to freedom--and offers a bracing analysis of how people remember their past and how the lessons they draw from it influence American politics and culture today. Including essays by: Ira Berlin David W. Blight James Oliver Horton Lois E. Horton Bruce Levine Edward T. Linenthal Joanne Melish Gary B. Nash Dwight T. Pitcaithley Marie Tyler-McGraw John Michael Vlach

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Coming to Terms with Slavery in Twenty-First-Century America
Ira Berlin
If You Don't Tell It Like It Was, It Can Never Be as It Ought to Be
David W. Blight
Slavery in American History: An Uncomfortable National Dialogue
James Oliver Horton
The Last Great Taboo Subject: Exhibiting Slavery at the Library of Congress
John Michael Vlach
For Whom Will the Liberty Bell Toll? From Controversy to Cooperation
Gary B. Nash
Recovering (from) Slavery: Four Struggles to Tell the Truth
Joanne Melish
Avoiding History: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and the Uncomfortable Public Conversation on Slavery
Lois E. Horton
Southern Comfort Levels: Race, Heritage Tourism, and the Civil War in Richmond
Marie Tyler-McGraw
``A Cosmic Threat'': The National Park Service Addresses the Causes of the American Civil War
Dwight T. Pitcaithley
In Search of a Usable Past: Neo-Confederates and Black Confederates
Bruce Levine
Epilogue: Reflections
Edward T. Linenthal
Notes 225(28)
Contributors 253(4)
Index 257

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