Since its emergence in the mid-1980s, the “new western history” has become a standard approach for interpreting the region's past and has influenced the practice of public history in important ways. This essay summarizes the concerns and assumptions of the new western historians and then assesses the impact of their scholarship on public history. Of particular concern is its effect on community museums in the West. Two case studies from museums in Colorado are presented. Finally, the author argues that the spirit of community engagement evinced by some of its leading practitioners has been an important, if less visible, impact of the new western history.

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