Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History

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In tracing the history and defining the role of public history in the United States, Meringolo focuses on the crucial role that Smithsonian and National Park Service scientists -anthropologists, ethnologists, and archaeologists-played in shaping the multidisciplinary work that is now recognized as public history. She analyzes a series of debates that took place during the 1920s and 1930s over the proper disposition of ethnological artifacts, the relative professionalism of curators versus park rangers, and the limits of each agency's mission. She argues that the expansion of the federal government's role in creating a national cultural narrative after the passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906 offered opportunities for professionals in all these fields to work together under the umbrella of the national parks. However, the various organizations chose to remain within disciplinary boundaries, often at odds with the National Park Service.


  • United States. National Park Service
  • Smithsonian Institution General History
  • Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service


Smithsonian History Bibliography

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Antiquities: Law and legislation: United States
  • Public history
  • Ethnologists
  • Ethnology
  • Museums
  • Professions
  • Museum techniques



Physical description

Number of pages: 265; Page numbers: 1-265

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