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Domesticating History: The Political Origins ofAmericas House Museums, Patricia West. Washing­ton D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press

Author:

David L. Browman

Washington University - St. Louis, US
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Abstract

The standard works on the origins of the historical preservation movement in the United States are Hosmer's two volumes (1965, 1981) . West takes a slightly different approach in this work, using the development of four specific house museums (Mount Vemon, the Orchard House of Louisa May A1con, Monticello, and the Booker T. Washington National Monument) as foils to by which to develop more of the social context of the respective periods of formation, and the political institu­tions involved. She argues (p. xii) that "house museums are products as well as purveyors of his­ tory", that "house museums are and always have been about politics" and that as scholars we must understand that actual histories of house museums have often been superseded by "creation myths" which have evolved associated with the museums as part of the cultural politics of the context of their formation. This has clear implications for the history of archaeology, not only in terms of the context and worldview of the 1 9th century development of museum theory, but also in terns of the use of archaeology in the 20th century as part of the myth building process. The 180 pages of text developing this theme are well-documented by 70 pages of supporting notes.
How to Cite: Browman, D.L., (1999). Domesticating History: The Political Origins ofAmericas House Museums, Patricia West. Washing­ton D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 9(2), pp.24–26. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/bha.09205
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Published on 29 Nov 1999.

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