Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument by Seth BruggemanHere, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National Monument by Seth Bruggeman

Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National…

bySeth Bruggeman

Paperback | November 15, 2008

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In Here, George Washington Was Born, Seth C. Bruggeman examines the history of commemoration in the United States by focusing on the George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Virginia's Northern Neck, where contests of public memory have unfolded with particular vigor for nearly eighty years.

Washington left the birthplace with his family at a young age and rarely returned. The house burned in 1779 and would likely have passed from memory but for George Washington Parke Custis, who erected a stone marker on the site in 1815, creating the first birthplace monument in America. Both Virginia and the U.S. War Department later commemorated the site, but neither matched the work of a Virginia ladies association that in 1923 resolved to build a replica of the home. The National Park Service permitted construction of the "replica house" until a shocking archeological discovery sparked protracted battles between the two organizations over the building's appearance, purpose, and claims to historical authenticity.

Bruggeman sifts through years of correspondence, superintendent logs, and other park records to reconstruct delicate negotiations of power among a host of often unexpected claimants on Washington's memory. By paying close attention to costumes, furnishings, and other material culture, he reveals the centrality of race and gender in the construction of Washington's public memory and reminds us that national parks have not always welcomed all Americans. What's more, Bruggeman offers the story of Washington's birthplace as a cautionary tale about the perils and possibilities of public history by asking why we care about famous birthplaces at all.

Seth C. Bruggeman is an assistant professor of history and American studies at Temple University.
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Title:Here, George Washington Was Born: Memory, Material Culture, and the Public History of a National…Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 17 inPublished:November 15, 2008Publisher:University Of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820331783

ISBN - 13:9780820331782

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Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Students of public history and the National Park Service will learn much from Bruggeman's in-depth exploration of the decades-long conflict between popular veneration and historical analysis at Washington's birthplace. A fascinating tale of the elusive quest for authenticity at a modern American tourist site.

- David Glassberg - author of Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life