Denise D. MeringoloOct 26, 2023
Public History and a Tradition of Social Justice Activism
Amherst College Press 2021
Uncovering a radical tradition at the heart of public history within the United States, Radical Roots: Public History and a Tradition of Social Justice Activism (Amherst College Press, 2021) redefines our sense of the past and future of public historical practice. Its editor, Denise D. Meringolo proposes an alternative and more radical understanding of public history’s beginnings that has been marginalized in prior studies of the past of the historian profession. Reflecting on this radical past, Radical Roots’ contributors discuss the history, ethics, and power of public history, theorizing a model of public history that is future focused, committed to advancing social justice, and deeply committed to creating a more inclusive public record.
Sections on museum practices, oral history, grassroots preservation, and community-based learning offer an array of local case studies and examples, from the early-twentieth-century to the present day. Throughout, the contributors to Radical Roots reflect on their experiences in public history with candor, self-reflection, and humility. This contemporary and engaging volume provides critical lessons to all those interested in mobilizing public history towards social justice and equality.
This book is available open access here.
Denise D. Meringolo is the Vice-President/President-Elect of the National Council on Public History and a scholar-practitioner in the field of public history working at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her book Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History (published in 2012) won the 2013 National Council on Public History prize for the best book in the field.
Thomas Cryer is a PhD Student in American History at University College London, where he studies race, nationhood, and memory through the life, scholarship, and activism of the historian John Hope Franklin.