Beyond the Hall: A Day of Conversation about Commemoration, Historic Preservation, & the Study of History

AHA President Tyler Stoval on Anniversaries and Commemorations

Our first panel on May 12 is titled “Commemoration.” Artists and historians will discuss their efforts to commemorate and memorialize people outside the limited demographic represented in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans.  This week, Tyler Stoval, the President of the American Historical Association, also discussed commemoration, in the form of the public celebration of anniversaries of significant historical events. In “Happy Anniversary?  Historians and the Commemoration of the Past,” he concludes, “For historians, therefore, the study of anniversaries serves both to facilitate an intensive, microhistorical study of a given event, and to mobilize and benefit from public interest in that event and in history in general. To be sure, our interests differ strongly from those of individuals and families celebrating major landmarks in their own lives, although there are important points of convergence. The most public anniversaries, notably national holidays like Bastille Day, occasion massive communal celebrations—in effect, national birthday parties. Here anniversaries become a public version of intimate private rituals, like them emphasizing happy festivity rather than critical historical analysis. To study the ways in which nations and other groups celebrate such events is to approach an understanding of how private and public lives intersect.”

The Commemoration panel will start at 10 AM and includes John Ahearn, Prithi Kanakamedala, & Ruth Sergel. Remember to register for the event, particularly if you want lunch.


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