History News looks at Historical Interpretation

History News, Autumn 2012

History News, Autumn 2012

The autumn 2012 issue of History News arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago and its four feature articles on interpretation that will be of interest to historic sites:

  • “From Quiet Havens to Modern Agoras:  Libraries and Museums in an Era of Participatory Culture” by Nancy Rogers, Susanna Seidl-Fox, and Deborah Mack is a report, including the key overarching messages, from an international seminar held in Salzburg, Austria in October 2011.
  • “‘No More Wiggle-Tail Water’: Interpreting the History of Morgantown’s Water Supply at the West Virginia Botanic Garden” by Barbara Howe is a case study on integrating history in a place that focuses on horticulture and nature.
  • “When Histories Horrify: Supporting Visitors’ Responses through Responsible Interpretation” by Linda Norris, Danny Cohen, and Stacey Mann is a continuation of a session at the American Alliance of Museum’s annual meeting on the roles and responsibilities of museums in preserving and mediating horrific histories of crimes, violence, terrorism, and oppression, with references to the Kilmainham Gaol, Majdanek, Robben Island, and the Greensboro Woolworth.
  • “Entering the Mainstream:  Interpreting GLBT History” by Ken Turino and Susan Ferentinos addresses four common challenges (institutional policies on discussing sex, lack of documentary evidence, applying modern labels to historical figures, pressure to avoid controversial topics) using examples from Pendarvis, Walt Whitman House, Beauport, Sarah Orne Jewett House, Alice Austen House, and Charles Gibson House.

Also included are Carol Kammen’s observations of the field based on her experience of editing the new edition of the Encyclopaedia of Local History; part one of two on the importance of a digital strategy by Tim Grove; a profile of an award-winning exhibit on controversial objects at the Ohio Historical Society; reviews of Performing Heritage: Research, Practice, and Innovation in Museum Theatre and Live Interpretation and Letting Go: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World; and a technical leaflet on project management.  Oh, and the cover shot of the Martin Luther King Memorial is by yours truly!

If you’re not familiar with History News, it is the quarterly magazine of the American Association for State and Local History and one of the benefits of membership.