American Association for State and Local History's Annual Conference In PittsburghBreaking News
Does America have too many house museums? How about historical markers -- are we littering the landscape with too many of those?
How and why should history museums interpret the recent past? How can corporate historians balance thorough analysis with the pressures of maintaining a positive corporate image? And who should determine what history is: curators or the community?
Those are some of the questions that will be asked and answered this week at the Hilton Pittsburgh, where about 800 public historians are expected to gather for the American Association for State and Local History's annual conference. Unlike academic historians, public historians work with and for the public, mostly in museums, libraries and archives, historical societies and in the media.
With the expansion of history-related cable television programming in the past decade, that last category seems, at least, to be the fastest growing of all; and it may explain why the conference theme is "History's Mysteries," borrowed from the name of the popular History Channel show.
But it's a producer from another show, PBS' "History Detectives," who will give one of the keynote addresses. Tony Tackaberry will talk about the relationship between history and entertainment and how state and local history organizations are playing a role in the show, now in its third season of sleuthing out the truths about artifacts, buildings and folklore.
The conference's strong Pittsburgh flavor will come, too, from neighborhood walking tours and visits to local museums, as well as the cadre of local museum personnel and others enlisted to share their success stories. University of Pittsburgh research professor Robert Regan, for example, will talk about his documentation of the city's public steps, while Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Executive Director Louise Sturgess will discuss her experiences using poetry, painting, drawing and collage projects to give South Side children an understanding of and appreciation for the historic commercial buildings on East Carson Street.
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