James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

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

Surprises on the Land: Unexpected Places that Get History Right

This will be a book (and web page) celebrating unexpected places that get history right: historic sites that tell important but often little known stories and do it well. Read the introduction of this in-progress book.  The book will also celebrate people who have “gotten it right” — revised our landscape to recognize difficult incidents in all their complexity. Examples include:

  • The Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota, now recognized as not just “the Indians’ fault” in Mankato and some other locations.
  • The Pioneer Monument in San Francisco, part of which celebrates visually the destruction of American Indians, has a new plaque telling that they survived and still live in California. Also, “Early Days,” the worst statue, a hieratic putdown of Native Americans, was removed in 2018 in the aftermath of Charlottesville.
  • The international slave trade, outlawed by Congress in 1808, continued, and two sites in America recognize this fact.
  • Americans have forgotten the important story of the Christiana (PA) Riot of 1851, but Christiana hasn’t; an obelisk tells what happened there in 1851.
  • In 1998, Wilmington, NC, finally faced up to what happened there a century earlier – the riot and coup d’etat that ended the chance for interracial harmony in the South for the next six decades. 
  • The Lowell (MA) mill (Natl. Park Service) makes palpable (and audible!) the reality of early industrial work.

Send your nominations of historical sites that get it right to: publichistorysites@gmail.com