Fred Wilson’s innovative exhibits at the Maryland Historical Society in 1992 and Haas-Lilienthal House in 1993 did not dramatically transform the interpretation of African American history and culture at museums and historic sites as some had hoped (or perhaps feared), however, much has happened in the last twenty years as demonstrated by this bibliography of theses, dissertations, official reports, articles, and books that appear in major library databases, such as ProQuest and JSTOR, and other online sources, such as the National Park Service. This bibliography is not comprehensive nor definitive, yet it provides a gateway to the breadth and width of the work underway in the United States for inspiration and best practices, as well as needs and opportunities.
This bibliography primarily focuses on theories and methods (the “how”) of interpreting African American history and culture at museums and historic sites, such as tours, exhibits, events, programs, videos, and websites. Related, but not part of this bibliography, are guidebooks to museums and sites such as African American Historic Places (Wiley, 1994) and studies on the teaching and interpretation of African American history in the classroom and in textbooks. The history and historiography of the African American experience (the “what”) are collected in such works as The Harvard Guide to African-American History (Harvard University Press, 2001) and The Columbia Guide to African American History Since 1939 (Columbia University Press, 2006), although they typically exclude unpublished studies such as archaeological excavations, architectural surveys, and historic structures reports. Resources on historical research and interpretation in general are available from such organizations as the American Historical Association, American Association for State and Local History, the National Association for Interpretation, National Council on Public History, and the National Park Service.