New Approaches to Framing History for Public Audiences

Solicited by the American Association for State and Local History, Organization of American Historians, and the National Council on Public History. Endorsed by the OAH Committee on Teaching, OAH Committee on National Park Service Collaboration, and the Oral History Association

Saturday, April 17, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Media and Communications; Public History and Memory


How should historians communicate their work to non-specialists? New research has profound implications for how historians communicate the value of history. Through comprehensive, nationwide research, the American Association for State and Local History and the FrameWorks Institute have researched gaps between professionals' and the public's understanding of history's value and developed new communications strategies for more effectively reaching public audiences. A panel of scholars, researchers, and public history experts will discuss how historians and the field might integrate the project’s findings in their work. The discussion provides opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research on how historians engage with the public.

Session Participants

Chair and Panelist: John Garrison Marks, American Association for State and Local History
John Marks is Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives with the American Association for State and Local History. He manages several partnerships, initiatives, and programs, including guiding field-wide planning for the 250th anniversary of the United States, the History Leadership Institute, and research on the state of the field. He is the author of the forthcoming book, "Black Freedom in the Age of Slavery: Race, Identity, and Status in the Urban Americas" (University of South Carolina Press, 2020). He holds a PhD in history from Rice University.

Panelist: Lu Ann Jones, National Park Service
Lu Ann Jones is a historian in the Park History Program of the National Park Service in Washington, DC. She has worked as a historian in a variety of settings during the past 35 years. Between 1986 and 1991 she directed “An Oral History of Southern Agriculture” at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. She was associate professor at the University of South Florida and East Carolina University between 1996 and 2009. Jones is the author of Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South (UNC Press, 2002); and the co-author of Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World (UNC Press, 1987 and 2000); The Life and Legacy of Robert Smalls of South Carolina’s Sea Islands (Eastern National, 2012); and “‘Everyone Helped Their Neighbor’: Memories of Nags Head Woods (The Nature Conservancy, 1987; UNC Press, 2018). In addition to her Park Service work, she continues to conduct research for an ongoing project, “DuPont Comes to Tobacco Road: Rural Industrialization in the Postwar South,” for which she received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hagley Museum and Library, and the Smithsonian Institution. Jones was elected to the executive board of the Organization of American Historians in 2017.

Panelist: Theresa L. Miller, FrameWorks Institute
THERESA MILLER is an anthropologist and serves as a Senior Researcher at the FrameWorks Institute. As an anthropologist, her research has focused on human-environment engagements and biodiversity conservation in South America. In particular, she has focused on Indigenous environmental knowledge and ethnobotanical classification in Brazil, including the ways in which people understand, categorize, and find meaning in their world that lead to conservation strategies. Her research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Ethnobiology and Food, Culture, & Society, and her book, Plant Kin: A Multispecies Ethnography in Indigenous Brazil, will be published by the University of Texas Press in May 2019. She is a member of the graduate faculty in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to joining FrameWorks, Theresa held positions as an environmental social scientist at the Field Museum in Chicago and as a Peter Buck Postdoctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. She holds a BA in International Studies and Spanish Studies from American University, and an MPhil in Social Anthropology and DPhil (PhD) in Anthropology from the University of Oxford, UK.

Panelist: Renee Romano, Oberlin College
Renee C. Romano is the Robert S. Danforth Professor of History and Professor of Comparative American Studies and Africana Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio. A specialist in 20th century American cultural and political history and in the field of historical memory, she is the author of Racial Reckoning; Reopening America’s Civil Rights Trials (Harvard University Press, 2014) and Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America (Harvard University Press, 2003.) She is also the co-editor of three collections: Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical Is Restaging America’s Past (Rutgers University Press, 2018); Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History that Talks Back (University of Georgia Press, 2012); and The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006). Her work has been featured on C-Span, National Public Radio, and in numerous podcasts. Romano has been involved in several public history projects and recently served as the Oberlin project director for the 2018 travelling public history exhibit, “Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American World War II Experience.” She has also served as a member of the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians and is an OAH Distinguished Lecturer.