This article explores the challenges and opportunities that accompany efforts on the ground to nurture innovation as we promote stewardship, preserve valued places, advance education, and facilitate citizens’ connection to their parks and historic sites in the second century of the National Park Service. Using the first nationally designated historic site, Salem Maritime, as a case study, we examine efforts to grapple with bureaucratic inertias, entrenched patterns of insularity, and reliance on top-down authority. Support from leadership is necessary to allow education and interpretation staff on the ground to invite scholars, teachers, school districts, community educators, park neighbors, and others to participate in developing more engaged, complex, multivocal, and democratic histories and a broader vision for the new century in the NPS.
Resuscitating the Promise: Reflections on Implementing Innovative and Collaborative History from the Nation’s First National Historic Site
Margo Shea is visiting fellow in the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies, an initiative between Sewanee–The University of the South and Yale University, and is assistant professor of public history at Salem State University. She has implemented numerous community historical interpretation and public curation projects and has published widely on space, place, and memory, as well as on the theory and practice of oral, public, and community history.
Maryann Zujewski is an education specialist with the National Park Service at Salem Maritime and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Sites in Massachusetts. Maryann has an over twenty-year career as an educator in K-12 schools, museums, historic sites, and national parks, focusing on planning and leading multidisciplinary standards-based education programs, teacher professional development, and staff and volunteer training. Her past jobs include park ranger at the Tsongas Industrial History Center at Lowell National Historical Park and education and public programs coordinator at The Bostonian Society. She is the 2014 winner of the Freeman Tilden Award for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service for her work with the “Park for Every Classroom,” a place-based service-learning teacher professional development program. The views and conclusions in this essay are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the National Park Service or the United States Government.
Jonathan Parker has worked for the National Park Service since 2007 and is the former chief of Interpretation, Education and Partnerships at Salem Maritime National Historic Site. He graduated from Hamilton College with a BA in history and education and currently serves as the chief of Interpretation and Education at Valley Forge National Historical Park in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The views and conclusions in this essay are those of the author and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the National Park Service or the United States Government.
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Margo Shea, Maryann Zujewski, Jonathan Parker; Resuscitating the Promise: Reflections on Implementing Innovative and Collaborative History from the Nation’s First National Historic Site. The Public Historian 1 November 2016; 38 (4): 129–148. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2016.38.4.129
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