Rescued from Oblivion: Historical Cultures in the Early United States

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In 1791, a group of elite Bostonian men established the first historical society in the nation. With in-depth research and an expansive scope, Alea Henle offers a vital account of the formation of historical culture and consciousness in the early United States, re-centering in the record groups long marginalized from the national memory. These societies laid the groundwork for professional practices that are still embraced today: collection policies, distinctions between preservation of textual and nontextual artifacts, publication programs, historical rituals and commemorations, and more. At the same time, officers of these early societies faced challenges to their historical authority from communities interested in preserving a broader range of materials and documenting more inclusive histories, including fellow members, popular historians, white women, and peoples of color.