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The Past As A Place: Challenging Private Ownership Of History In The United States

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Chapter Summary

The question of a public versus a private past opens up some new vistas in considering history in the United States, as the public/private polarity is not one American historians conventionally apply to our national past. Americans have very wide access to historical source materials in part because quests for local identity and importance have long driven collecting and interpretation by historical organizations. Creating 'private owners' of the past with the authority to shut out dissenting voices operates against both the inherently revisable nature of historical narrative and the purpose of public history, which is to inform and foster citizenship.

Keywords: Private ownership; United States



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