Are you a public historian? If you’ve engaged with social media, listened to podcasts, gone to museums, watched documentary films, or read and written blogs, you have been involved in public history. But why is it important? One reason is that it helps give voice and visibility to people and events that have been left out of the main historical record—often because of race, gender, or class. At its best, public history can foster renewal and healing in addressing difficult, even traumatic, historical legacies. In this episode, we explore some of the ways that The Mary Baker Eddy Library is itself an institution of public history, encouraging anyone to engage with the history of the Christian Science movement through its archives and programming. We’ll also look at an example of how The Christian Science Monitor has been an instrument of public history through the dialogue it cultivates with readers—often in profound and impactful ways.
Access more on this topic:
- Explore The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s finding aids
- Visit The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s Facebook and Instagram pages
- Podcast: Community and memory in The Mary Baker Eddy Library archives
- Women of History: Lucia C. Warren
Dr. John T. Kneebone is associate professor emeritus of history at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). There he chaired the history department, taught the history of the American South, and coordinated the public history component of the history graduate program. Kneebone co-authored Fulfilling the Promise, a recent history of VCU, published by the University of Virginia Press in fall 2020. For 16 years he was an editor and then director of publications and educational services at the Library of Virginia. A graduate of the University of Virginia, he previously taught at Princeton and Harvard Universities, and at the University of Alabama.
Rivi Feinsilber is assistant archivist in The Mary Baker Eddy Library’s Research & Reference Services division. She holds a master’s in library science with a concentration in archives management from Simmons University, as well as a master’s in history from VCU. Her current research work includes Jewish colonial religious history, with an emphasis in the British North American colonies and the plan to expand to the Caribbean in the same period.