A long-overdue but much welcome movement from the National Park Service to commemorate the period of Reconstruction in American history is gathering steam. Historians Greg Downs, Kate Masur, and others are working with NPS personnel to establish sites, monuments, and places for historic preservation, to help Americans better understand this crucial but often misremembered era. Departmental lecturer Amy Haines has devoted some of her specialized scholarly work to this era as well, and has worked with Professor Downs in a previous NEH seminar in this effort.
We will link here to an article detailing these efforts, a short excerpt of which is below:
WASHINGTON – On the anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to former slaves freed after the Civil War, the National Park Service today published a theme study looking at nationally significant historic properties of the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era. The National Historic Landmarks theme study, “The Era of Reconstruction, 1861-1900,” identifies noteworthy resources related to the Era of Reconstruction that help tell the American story.
“Discovering the lesser known stories of the Reconstruction Era and identifying places and people who impacted our collective American story is the result of two years of dedicated work by historians, field practitioners, and subject matter experts,” said Dr. Joy Beasley, National Park Service Acting Associate Director for Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science. “This theme study continues to build upon our shared narrative as Americans; knowing who we are, where we came from, and understanding the events, activities, and places that shape us citizens today is at the heart of the National Park Service mission.”
The theme study, which is the first comprehensive theme study of its kind, enhances public understanding of this complex and contested period in our nation’s history, and provides a basis for identifying and potentially nominating Reconstruction Era related properties as National Historic Landmarks. National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Currently, nearly 2,600 historic places bear this national distinction.
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