BROWSE RESOURCES ABOUT ‘Difficult History’

  • No meaningful conversation about our future can occur without confronting our contentious past. This session will present three case studies of collaboration as vehicles for communities to share their respective stories. Panelists will share strategies for initiating productive conversations and discuss collaborative programming efforts to sustain positive relationships with communities. Chair: Adam Scher, Senior Curator, […]

  • The tragic shootings at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston last June precipitated a national outcry against the Confederate flag. State leaders in Alabama and South Carolina removed it from capitol grounds. Walmart and other retailers discontinued merchandise bearing the flag. Meanwhile, the controversy expanded to include Confederate monuments and statues. Americans’ fury, on […]

  • Rick Beard’s latest article discusses the interpretive revolution in museums during the 1980s and ’90s, and how high-profile interpretive controversies at the Maryland Historical Society and National Air and Space Museum challenged these tenets. Mining the Museum at MHS and the Smithsonian’s Enola Gay exhibit both created a stir with their content and interpretive methods in […]

  • Interpreting Difficult History at Museums and Historic Sites is framed by educational psychoanalytic theory and positions museum workers, public historians, and museum visitors as learners. Through this lens, museum workers and public historians can develop compelling and ethical representations of historical individuals, communities, and populations who have suffered. It includes various examples of difficult knowledge, […]

  • In this article adapted from his address during the Meeting of the Membership at the 2015 Annual Meeting, AASLH President and CEO John Dichtl discusses the importance of history to our ever-changing culture, and the ways history organizations can serve the diverse needs of their communities. People are engaging with history as never before as […]

  • Museums and archives are often owners of artifacts that are mysterious and controversial. Figuring out what items are, their place in historical context, and display options can be daunting. Presenters discuss items that posed problems, and attendees are encouraged to bring in stories about experiences with controversial artifacts. Chair: Erica Ward, Archivist, Research and Academic […]

  • In the wake of Michael Brown’s death, people closely examined the past, present, and future of the state of Missouri. The Missouri History Museum is located approximately twenty minutes from Ferguson. This resulted in a wave of community engagement opportunities and potential pitfalls. What happened? What would you do? Chair: Melanie Adams, Managing Director, Community […]

  • Peace, love, and understanding, or bitter aftertaste? Can remembering troubled local history empower communities to reach common understanding and start to heal? Learn how Columbia, Missouri citizens remembered a former black business district and reached for greater possibilities. Share your experiences and thoughts on how historians can help. Chair: Toni Messina, Civic Relations Officer, City […]

  • As the Chief of Museum Learning at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Tim Grove has quite a few stories to tell about his experiences in public history. In this excerpt from his book A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American History, Grove describes an exhibit project about the Lewis and Clark expedition […]

  • Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites aims to move the field forward in its collective conversation about the interpretation of slavery—acknowledging the criticism of the past and acting in the present to develop an inclusive interpretation of slavery. Presenting the history of slavery in a comprehensive and conscientious manner is difficult and requires diligence and […]