- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: University of Georgia Press (November 15, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0820331783
- ISBN-13: 978-0820331782
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,465,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument
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This innovative interdisciplinary study takes its place among a growing body of scholarship concerned with memory and commemoration, representation and authenticity, and heritage and tourism. Seth C. Bruggeman makes superb use of a kaleidoscopic array of sources to narrate a story of entanglement and ambivalence at George Washington's birthplace.(Journal of Southern History)
Bruggeman skillfully relates the story of Washington's birthplace to the growing literature on memory, commemoration, and public history. Here, George Washington Was Born is a very well informed, well researched, and effective case study that also serves as a broader introduction to cultural resource management.(Theodore Karamanski author of Rally 'Round the Flag: Chicago and the Civil War)
In addition to his discussion of this national monument, Bruggeman provides a broader insight into the history of public commemoration from the Renaissance through the nineteenth century, highlighting the changing ways in which sites and objects have been revered. . . . Bruggeman’s study adds an important piece of the puzzle to our understanding of public history and the ways in which the past has been presented to general audiences during the last eighty years.(American Historical Review)
A valuable addition to the growing literature on how issues of public memory, commemoration, and authenticity play out at America's historic sites.(H-FedHist)
Despite what might seem at first glance a relatively minor topic―a history of the ill-fated and largely specious George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia's Northern Neck―the author has done so much thoughtful work providing context (especially concerning the influence of the Colonial Revival and the evolution of National Park Service policies) that the book really is a 'must read' for many public historians. It is also a significant contribution to the flourishing field of memory studies.(Michael Kammen Public Historian)
Professionals, especially those in interpretation and administration at historic and commemorative sites, will find much worthy of consideration in this book as they deal with both internal and external pressures at their sites. At the same time, this volume will be very beneficial to public history and historic preservation students as it provides a history of the preservation movement, a case study at a historic site, and demonstrates how public historians are often asked to deal with sometimes conflicting resources, missions, and agendas.(History News)
This fascinating book establishes a high standard for the cultural study of house museums and historic sites, and joins comparable works by Patricia West (1999), Eric Leepson (2001), and Scott Casper (2008) as highly desirable additions to any public historian’s bookshelf.(Material Culture)
Students of public history and the National Park Service will learn much from Bruggeman's in-depth exploration of the decades-long conflict between popular veneration and historical analysis at Washington's birthplace. A fascinating tale of the elusive quest for authenticity at a modern American tourist site.(David Glassberg author of Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life)
About the Author
Seth C. Bruggeman is an assistant professor of history and American studies at Temple University.
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I found Bruggerman's assertion in the latter part of the book that the birthplace should be used primarily to interpret his particular academic interest, namely "public history and memory" a little silly. The story of the hastily built and unfortunate "Memorial House," the gender angle concerning the sponsoring women's association, the race angle from the uncomfortable "living history" attempts should probably be covered and discussed at the museum. However, it is the birthplace of our country's arguably most important personage, and the primary function of the place should be to explain how his family came to be at that location and how his parents, his ancestors and the place they lived influenced him. It should provide a place of reflection and recreation, and should also be interpreted from the natural history standpoint.
Those of us who love the Northern Neck do feel there was "something in the water," back in the 18th century, for producing so many important leaders at our nation's birth. As the author mentions, James Monroe was born a few miles away from Washington's birthplace, and the four Lee brothers (2 signers of the Declaration, one actually introduced the resolution for Independence, and all important patriots) were close neighbors. Washington's relatives who stayed in Westmoreland County were among the signers of the Leedstown Resolves, a document signed in 1766 protesting the Stamp Act , and a pre-cursor to the Declaration. Better to concentrate your efforts interpreting all that.
Not to pick the scab, but I personally vote for pulling down the Memorial House, but that'd be quite a battle....
In the afterword, Mr. Bruggeman goes so far as to question whether George Washington was actually born at Pope's Creek, but he has no facts to support an alternate birthplace.