Skip to Content

The Public Historian in the History Wars

Pete Anderson

I had the good fortune to facilitate a lively discussion on the role of public historians in the history wars at a ‘dine around’ session during the recent annual conference of the National Council on Public History, held in Ottawa from April 17-20. We had representatives from both Canada and the United States of various ages and experiences across the range of the public history community: students, consultants, archivists, parks interpreters, educators, museum professionals, bureaucrats, and heritage professionals, with some attendees wearing more than one of these “hats.”

While our conversation flowed freely, three questions emerged in different forms time and time again:

  • What is the role of public historians in history wars?
  • How do we strike a balance between professional ethics and the obligations of employment?
  • Who will champion our cause if and when we can’t speak for ourselves?