This blog, Fredericksburg Remembered, focuses on stories, ideas, memory, and the challenges of bringing them before the public.
Fredericksburg Remembered is a collective effort to illuminate and discuss in a public way the challenges, adventures, and occasional triumphs involved in bringing the story of the Fredericksburg region’s vivid history to both a local and national audience. We’ll offer something of a behind-the-scenes look at exhibits and programs in development and some of the issues we wrestle with as we take them from idea to reality. (We’re focusing here on the really interesting part of our jobs; we’ll spare you the mundane.) We want to engage you the public in something of a conversation about what we do and how we do it, stimulating along the way from you what we hope will be some useful, illuminating commentary and feedback.
Fredericksburg is blessed with an uncommon abundance of historic resources and sites–from battlefields to the boyhood home of Washington to the plasterwork of Kenmore to the newly expanded Fredericksburg Area Museum to no fewer than four sites owned by Preservation Virginia. Some call it “the most historic city in America” (sounds like a good topic for a blog post and discussion). Bringing that story and these sites to the public is an intensely interesting and challenging undertaking–one that compels some of us to long hours of toil punctuated by triumph when we touch a chord or change the world just a little bit.
We, like the society around us, struggle with distinguishing memory from history, and we constantly hunt for the right balance between narrative and interpretation, objects or sites and ideas, and “good history” and the expectations of the “heritage tourism” industry. Little does the public realize how powerful they are in shaping what we do; if you don’t show up at a program, then you can be sure you’ll never see that program repeated again. The public historian who talks only to himself is doomed to a very short career.
Like our sister site, Mysteries and Conundrums, our purpose here is to share the best and most interesting of what we do. The blog is the domain of no single organization, nor will it be confined solely to the Civil War. Rather staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP, the Fredericksburg Area Museum, and hopefully the George Washington Foundation and others to help lead the conversation. And if you have a thought, reaction, or insight, we hope you will share it. As is the case with all we do, our hope is to use local examples and case studies to illuminate larger ideas of memory and public history.
The NPS staff who contribute to Mysteries and Conundrums have been cranking out consistently top-notch stuff, some of the best the Civil War blogosphere has to offer. I’m confident that Fredericksburg Remembered will be of similar quality, if the first series of posts on Fredericksburg’s Disputed Auction Block is any indication.