Reporting from the SCWH: Plenary Session on Monuments and Memory at Gettysburg NMP

Reporting from the SCWH: Plenary Session on Monuments and Memory at Gettysburg NMP

Using Gettysburg as a focus, these five historians engaged in the complicated question of what to do with Confederate memory and the role historians must play in the conversations happening all over the country. The answer to the question of Confederate monuments and commemoration is not clear. The fact that there have been several plenary sessions at conferences over the past few years, all of which asked a lot of questions and posed a lot of suggestions but could not offer clear solutions, reflects how complex the conversation can be.

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The Confederate Monument Controversy….in the 1890s

The Confederate Monument Controversy….in the 1890s

Confederate monuments are at the forefront of politics and national debate these days as American society grapples with the legacy of the Civil War and its aftermath. While this debate seems new and is situated in a modern society that is opening many meaningful, and sometimes divisive, conversations about history, race, and society, controversy over Confederate monuments is not necessarily new.

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The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The historical amnesia of the South regarding its black and white Union soldiers should be rectified. By choosing to selectively remember and honor Confederate soldiers while simultaneously ignoring the many Southerners who fought for the Union, Southerners send clear message that loyalty to region, protection of white supremacy, and veneration of the Confederacy are the only legacies of the Civil War worth remembering. If Confederate monuments continue to be torn down, new ones should go up, celebrating those Southerners--black and white--who remained loyal to the Union and brought about “a new birth of freedom.”

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Confederate Iconography, The Next Steps: On Shared Authority, Historical Stewardship, and the Role of the Public Historian

Confederate Iconography, The Next Steps: On Shared Authority, Historical Stewardship, and the Role of the Public Historian

As the debate over the purpose and future of Confederate monuments and iconography in public culture continues, discussions concerning the role of the public historian in these debates have similarly intensified.  Central to these debates has been the question of the proper role of the public historian in community-based, emotionally and politically charged discussions about historical memory and contemporary society...it is hardly inappropriate or overstepping for public historians to make suggestions to communities as to what to do with their public memorial landscapes, nor is it at all intrusive and imposing to try to help communities learn about the educational value of their historic monuments and memorials or about the complexities of historical memory.  Additionally, pointing out to communities who are in the midst of debates about the future of memorial landscapes all that is gained AND lost if such landscapes were to be destroyed or removed is hardly “historian-centric” or merely “historians doing historian things.”  Is this not the very nature of our jobs as public historians?

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