Who hold the definitive version of history, the General Public or Historians’ scholars?
We were taught to trust history and even only learn about the past through the lens of books written by historians who supposedly investigated facts and matters of past events that makes them the solo holder of the truth of the definitive version of history.
Yet, Adai, Filene and Koloski expose the importance of sharing the historical authority with the public and the necessity to democratizing history practices.
The endeavor of the Minnesota History Center (MHC) from 2006 and 2009 inviting the public to participate in collecting stories of the lives of the men and women who have been called “Greatest Generation” offered great example of showing the importance of challenging the traditional expertise of museums as the solo holder of historic facts.
In the 21stcentury with technology, availability of software and hardware as well as social media, Public-history practice gained a significant role in creating history. It enabled collection of hundreds of thousands of stories to enter the books of history.
Public history lifted fogs from peoples’ understanding of their own history and offered clearer visibility and better understanding of the publics’ own history.
Public history practice democratized history content and creation, hence offered the audience the opportunity to participate in creation of history and more importantly allowed us as investigator of our own history to correct those historic facts about the past said about others. In the “Remembering Grandma Lucy” helped Ali and her mom to interact with the past, relate to it as well connect with it and not only her but also the audience of the movie who were able to connect to same story. Participation of the public to create history not only connect but it also bridge our distance from historic facts writing by scholars, it makes the intangible real and it opens spaces like historic societies and museums to the general public to participate as well as to engage in inviting more people to learn about the past and history and perhaps to not repeat it.
Through both experiences of MHC and the Community Curator project ran by Brooklyn Historical Society, “Letting go” offer us an understanding of how sharing historical authority with the public help us push boundaries of history creation. Both experiences show how the process of creating the exhibitions/ movie festivals becomes elements of human history that tells future generations more about our past and allow historians to analyze historic art facts, photographs and videos.
Is it scary to give the public authority to tell history to the next generation? It is more scaring to let handful of people tell the history of millions. The intersection of history and public history become crucial in the era of social media, citizen journalism, propagandas…. History can serve as a mean to connect people to each other and connect historian practitioners and the public to offer more collaboration in telling our stories to the next generation.