Review Of National Park Service's Approach To History Points To Weak Support For That Mission

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History, both protecting vestiges of it and interpreting it, is one of the central missions of the National Park Service. But a new report says the agency is largely failing that mission, both from a lack of investment as well as from an approach to telling history almost with blinders on. As a result, the report says history in the parks is considered to be "endangered."

Those findings, reached by the Organization of American Historians, come in the wake of a similar report from the National Parks Conservation Association that also said the Park Service's history programs and resources were suffering from problems ranging from landscapes being impacted by development and artifacts affected by “decay and damage" to even "outdated scholarship."

The latest study, Imperiled Promise, The State Of History in the National Park Service, was performed at the request of the Park Service. It was prepared by Anne Mitchell Whisnant (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Marla Miller (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Gary Nash (University of California, Los Angeles), and David Thelen (Indiana University). They reached out to more than 1,500 Park Service staff with some responsibility for history with a questionaire that was completed by 544. Additionally, the study was prepared with insights from retired and current NPS administrators, managers, and "official" historians....

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