Top five posts of 2016

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reed-hamilton-screen-shotAs we mark the end of a tumultuous 2016 and begin what promises to be an eventful new year, [email protected]’s editors are reflecting on the posts that prompted the widest readership and dialogue among our community:

Annette Gordon Reed, Hamilton the Musical: Blacks and the Founding Fathers

Matthew Exline, Looking for a Job in Public History: An Outsider’s Perspective

Cathy Stanton, Does the National Park Service have a Culture Problem?

Lyra Monteiro, It’s not just a Musical

The editors, A Response to the Election

Two of our top posts from the past year were contributions to the highly stimulating roundtable discussion of Lyra Monteiro’s review in The Public Historian of the smash Broadway musical Hamilton. Annette Gordon-Reed reflected on her own discomfort seeing the show, as well as the sharp criticisms of Monteiro and Ishmael Reed regarding its depiction of early American history, in particular the absence of critical histories of race and racial oppression. As a capstone to the roundtable, Monteiro responded to the reactions to her original review, asserting that Hamilton is not “just a musical” and reiterating her critique that the show “obscures the white supremacist origins of our country.”

In addition to witnessing the explosion of the Hamilton phenomenon, this past year we marked the centennial of the National Park Service. Although the longevity and accomplishments of this venerable institution undoubtedly deserve celebration, Cathy Stanton reminded us that the Park Service’s leadership has not always lived up to its obligation to operate ethically. Perceptively analyzing NPS’s organizational culture, Stanton illustrated how issues related to improper dealing and sexual harassment in the Park Service have not received adequate attention nor have they been addressed constructively.

In addition to a venue for constructive critique and self-reflexivity, [email protected] is also a practical resource for public historians seeking to enter the field and develop their skills. Matthew Exline’s frank reflections–although originally posted in 2013–continue to attract a wide readership, demonstrating the challenging employment market that emerging public historians face. Exline’s open and honest narrative resonates with readers who hope to make their own contributions to our field through meaningful employment.

Finally, the past year was perhaps most notable for the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency. In their post, [email protected]’s lead editorial team identified several areas of concern based on president-elect Trump’s policy positions and statements during the campaign. They encouraged public historians to apply their skills to the task of historicizing issues of immigration, race, reproductive health, LGBT rights, and bullying. Moreover, the editors recommended that public historians re-double their ongoing efforts to “foreground stories of marginalized people seeking justice and inclusion” and “strengthen emerging practices of direct engagement and civic action.”

The editorial team could not be more pleased with the level of engagement and discourse on [email protected]. We hope our readers continue to value the blog as a vital resource as all of us press our work in new and challenging directions.

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