ISSN: 2038-0925

It’s Not What You Think: Challenging Assumptions Through Public History

Fri, Nov 17, 2017, 10:30 AM – 06:00 PM


Join us for The CUNY Public History Collective’s Second Annual Conference, “It’s Not What You Think: Challenging Assumptions Through Public History,” featuring Keynote speaker Sarah Henry, Deputy Director and Chief Curator at Museum of the City of New York.The conference hopes to address how public history can be a tool for challenging previous knowledge, complicating beliefs, reversing expectations, broadening perspectives, righting wrongs, and presenting a more honest history.Visitors to museums, cultural institutions, archives, and other public history sites often come with preconceived assumptions about the past shaped by distant experiences of high school courses, patriotic political rhetoric, or popular myth. The conference will ask how public historians can challenge these myths and articulate new narratives while living up to the expectations of the public in a diverse and increasingly polarized country. We will also explore how the form and function of public history sites can be used to expand conceptions of what cultural spaces should look like and who they should engage with.

The conference is free and open to the public, but we ask you please Register for the conference here.

2017 Public History Collective Conference Schedule

10:30-11:00: Registration, Concourse Level

11:00-11:15: Welcome and Opening Remarks, Room C198

11:15-12:15: What is Public History? Who is it For? What our Work Has Taught Us, Room C201

  • Katie Uva, CUNY Graduate Center
  • Dominique Jean-Louis, New York University
  • Maeve Montalvo, Museum of the City of New York
  • Nerina Rustomji, St. John’s University

11:15-12:15: The Diversity of Women in the Suffragist Movement: Living History at the New-York Historical Society, Room C202

  • Tamar MacKay, New-York Historical Society
  • Education Staff and Living Historians, New-York Historical Society

12:20-1:20: Not Your Father’s GenealogyRoom C201

  • Nicole Belle DeRise, Family & Business History Center, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Gretchen Krueger, Family & Business History Center, Wells Fargo Bank

12:20-1:20: Historical Meaning-Making and the Legacies of Black TeachersRoom C202

  • Patrice Fenton, NYC Men Teach, City University of New York
  • Gail Perry-Ryder, Teacher Education Programs, City University of New York

1:20-2:30: Lunch, Graduate Center History Department, 5114   2:30-3:50: Creating Spaces of Public Awareness: Process and Practice, Room C201

  • Todd Fine, CUNY Graduate Center, “Talking About Little Syria: Education and Activism in Lower Manhattan”
  • Cathlin Goulding, National 9/11 Museum and Memorial, “Places of Exception as Places of Learning: Tule Lake National Historic Monument” 
  • Roger Panetta, Fordham University, “Confronting the Popular Image of the Prisoner: The Sing Sing Prison Museum”

2:30-3:50: Landscapes and Locations of MemoryRoom C202

  • Richard Cheu, St. John’s University, “Altering Passenger Perspectives of History Onboard Amtrak Long-Distance Trains”
  • Nadya K. Nenadich, Pratt Institute, “Remembering and Forgetting: The Case of Puerto Rico”
  • Meghan A. Townes and Claire Radcliffe, The Library of Virginia, “Confederates in Capitol Square: Engaging the Myth of the Lost Cause”

4:00-5:00: Keynote AddressRoom C198 

  • Sarah Henry, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Museum of the City of New York

5:00-6:00: Reception, Graduate Center History Department, Room 5114


Co-sponsored by the Public History Collective Working Group.


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