Home » Telling the Truth about the Past » On the Landscape, In Public History

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

On the Landscape, In Public History

After leaving high school, most Americans neveLies Across America book cover collager take another course in U.S. history, but they are interested to learn more – just not in school! Many turn to our public history – our monuments, museums, and historical markers; the historical names we give to public places, buildings, and streets; the people we celebrate by naming mountains, streams, and lakes for them; and the public performances of historical events we re-enact. Unfortunately, it’s been a mess,

Albert Pike, the only Confederate general ever displayed outdoors in Washington, D.C., after he was toppled in June, 2020.

Lies Across America became probably the best-selling book in public history (the history of monuments, museums, historical markers, namings, pageants, and the like) since the millennium.

Our public history says quite a bit about Native Americans. Unfortunately, much of it is wrong, and our monuments are afflicted by hieratic scale, with Whites on top, Natives below.

Our public history of the Confederacy and the eras around it (slavery, Reconstruction, the Nadir of race relations) has been flatly wrong and flatly racist. However, since 2015 we have been mending it.

Students in Kealing Middle School in Texas sharpened their thinking with a terrific project using a monument in nearby New Mexico.

In 1911, Christiana, PA, marked the “Christiana riot” with this modest but fair obelisk.