First things first, I am a proud Eastern Eagle alumni on this Friday night. Larry Cebula (public historian at Eastern Washington University) did a truly fantastic job dealing with the mis-information presented at the Baron Von Munchausen Historic Home. He exemplified what it was to be a public historian by respectfully pointing out where the museums “facts” should be corrected. When working with the public it takes a certain tone and I believed he achieved it in his open letter.
As far as the response back from the curator…I had a mixed bag of reactions.
First, I thought to myself, “This is what I am signing up for. This is the reality of what I will be facing on the front lines of public history.”
Second, I came to the realization that this is exactly what I want to do. The curator’s response all but validated the need for fundamentally trained public historians. Cebula said it well in the comments section, “someday there will be a changing of guard” and as naive as it might seem I’m excited to be a part of it.
I anticipate in class that discussion on how the public can damage history will be addressed. I personally struggle with this. Yes, pseudo-history is simply disgraceful and should be smacked down WWE style. But as far as volunteerism and interpretation—I believe the public should be there, helping out, being active. You can’t simply say history is for historians. That’s like saying “seats taken” to Forrest Gump on the school bus. But on the other side of the coin, is no interpretation better than bad or or just plain wrong interpretation? I guess I will have to continue to work out my public history philosophy.
To conclude this overly verbose post, I’ll make my pithy comment on the Virginia textbook. Lauriann is correct, there is a serious issue with peer-review and even more so with people failing to do their jobs. As historically flawed as Masoff is, unfortunately, she can write whatever she so chooses…I mean she is “fairly respected.” The fact that his book passed through boards and committees is just embarrassing.
 What does this even mean? If someone asks what type of birth control you use, do you respond, the “fairly respected” kind? This simply baffles me.