Updated: April 27, 2013: The video of the sessions (in two parts) was added to this post. Hats off to Dr. Jane Becker for arranging for this high-quality video taping so that everyone can hear the discussion that took place in November. (The delay in posting the video was due to a months-long review by NPS staff in Washington.)
Updated: November 8, 2012: A blog post discussing the afternoon's discussion from Dr. Melinda Marie Jetté on the History@Work blog from the National Council on Public History.
This afternoon in Boston at the University of Massachusetts, National Park Service Rangers and other staff along with members of the university's history program and other interested individuals met to discuss history and interpretation in the parks.
Speakers included James Green, History Department, UMass Boston; Cassius Cash (pictured above giving welcoming remarks), Boston National Historical Park; Jane Becker, History Department, UMass Boston; Frank Barrows, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park; Christopher Gwinn, Gettysburg National Military Park; Louis Hutchins, formerly Northeast Region, NPS; Lu Ann Jones, Park History Program, NPS; Barbara Pollarine, Northeast Region, NPS; Christine Arato, NPS War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemoration; Rolf Diamant, formerly Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park; Eric Hanson-Plass, Boston National Historical Park; Antoinette Jackson, Ethnography Program, Southeast Region, NPS; Kerry Olson, Lowell National Historical Park; and Marty Blatt, Boston National Historical Park.
Organized by Dr. Jane Becker in the university's history program and others in the history department as well as in the National Park Service, "Critical Conversations: The State of History in the National Park Service" follows from the report Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service (below), issued last year from the Organization of American Historians under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service.
As explained in the report's introduction:
This report urges NPS to recommit to history as one of its core purposes and invest in building a top-flight program of historical research and interpretation that will foster consistently effective and integrated historic preservation and robust, place-based visitor engagement with history. The more central history can be to NPS’s missions and activities, the more relevant and responsive NPS can be to the needs of American society in the twenty-first century.