A nation of savers: The impulse to connect with history through objects, buildings, and sites
Intrigued by a piece of charred wood in the museum's First Ladies exhibition, intern Auni Gelles explores the story behind this slice of timber as it relates to the history of both the national museum and the historic preservation movement. Two experts discuss how Americans' long-standing impulse to collect bits of history simultaneously damaged and preserved many of our national treasures.
When British troops marched into Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812, 200 years ago on August 24, they set off a shockwave of fear by burning iconic symbols of the young capital city: the White House and Capitol Building. With these landmarks ablaze, residents feared for their lives as well as for the fate of their nation. An air of desperation arose over the city as the scale of destruction became known.
Common-core anxiety sweeps the land, and professional developers of curriculum and assessment smell dollars. Flashy brochures promise that once that purchase order is signed, every child will pass the new tests. For a pittance more, they'll make the lion lie down with the lamb.
District administrators would be wise to lay down their pens. There's a valuable resource right in front of their eyes. It requires no lengthening of the school day, no elimination of art and music, and no endorsement of checks to third-party developers. It's so familiar we no longer notice it. It's called the history/social studies ...
"The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dali (1931)
Who am I ?
Dr. Cynthia Wallace-Casey is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the University of Ottawa Making History Education Research Unit. Her current research investigates national narratives, difficult history in museums, and Historical Thinking. She lives in New Brunswick.
"I know a man whose school could never teach him patriotism, but who acquired that virtue when he felt in his bones the vastness of his land, and the greatness of those who founded it..." - PE Trudeau, The Ascetic in a Canoe, 1944