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Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life
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Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  69 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
As Americans enter the new century, their interest in the past has never been greater. In record numbers they visit museums and historic sites, attend commemorative ceremonies and festivals, watch historically based films, and reconstruct family genealogies. The question is, Why? What are Americans looking for when they engage with the past? And how is it different from wh ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by University of Massachusetts Press (first published January 1st 2001)
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Melia Dayley
Nov 30, 2015 Melia Dayley rated it really liked it
History first became an object of study in ancient Greece and from that moment, history has filled societies and the lives of people around the world. Despite its commonplace in the lives of people, particularly Americans, the purpose and definition of history can be blurred and confusing. David Glassberg, a historian with interests and research in public history and historical consciousness in America, authored a 2001 book entitled "Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life." In ...more
Jeremy Britten
Sep 11, 2016 Jeremy Britten rated it it was amazing
Five stars simply for the author's conclusion alone. While not every one of the essays resonated with me, the overarching themes for the public history profession got me super jazzed up! I picked the right graduate program for sure.
Apr 03, 2014 Justin rated it liked it
This book is a collection of essays, written by David Glassberg, that explore the different ways in which Americans interact with history. Historians should read this book to understand how and why people develop powerful memories of historical places and events, and how they develop a “sense of history”; a trait that Glassberg says “reflects the intersection of the intimate and the historical…so that public histories often forcefully, and surprisingly, hit home” (pg. 6). After the first chapter ...more
Savannah Mitchell
Feb 06, 2016 Savannah Mitchell rated it really liked it
David Glassberg is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and wrote A Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life. This book was published in 2001 by the University of Massachusetts Press. This book made up of a series of essays that have previously appeared as conference papers and articles, but have been manipulated to create a complete compressive book that discusses the ways in which American’s develop an attachment or an identity to a place that they ...more
Amanda Boden
Dec 02, 2015 Amanda Boden rated it really liked it
History can be a difficult concept to understand. But the book “Sense of History” is an attempt to define history and its involvement in everyday lives. “Sense of History” is authored by David Glassberg, and was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2001. David Glassberg is a professor of the University of Massachusetts, and is a public and an environmental historian. In “Sense of History” Glassberg addresses the concepts of place and how people connect place and the environment ...more
Haley LeFaivre
Dec 02, 2015 Haley LeFaivre rated it it was amazing

To better understand the depths of history as a social science, a perspective on public expression of history and the academic field of history must be evaluated. David Glassberg’s book titled, Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life, is a collection of essays centered on history’s relationship to the public and the translation an academic historian takes in interpreting history. The book was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2001. The author teaches history

Thomas Isern
Jun 27, 2012 Thomas Isern rated it it was amazing
The most striking section of Glassberg's book is his treatment of place and placelessness in relation to history and identity. This bears rereading a dozen times. Overall, this book is the best single work for delineating the relationship, or sometimes the lack thereof, between academic history and public history.
Mar 17, 2015 Eve rated it liked it
This book of essays has lurked on my shelf for awhile and when I picked it up I struggled with it. I don't know if it was because this is not where I am with my life right now or simply because the essays never drew me in or engaged me. I'm thinking that it is a combination of the two.
Dec 23, 2011 Heather rated it it was ok
Shelves: div-iii
While this book contains some interesting research, it lacks continuity. Each chapter, though written by the same author, seems to be dropped in from an article written elsewhere, and it's difficult to find any unifying ideas throughout, other than "Americans have a sense of history."
Dec 21, 2010 John rated it really liked it
Several really interesting essays in here about sense of place, monuments and their histories, Ken Burns' Civil War documentary, and other topics. I particularly like the one about sense of place in New England towns, the Ken Burns one, and the one about the a WWI monument in Orange, MA.
Nov 12, 2012 MK rated it liked it
Shelves: grad-school
It's an enjoyable read, but his argument gets lost in the middle of the chapters. Interesting perspective though about how Americans perceive the history around them and how they deem what elements of their environment are important.
Oct 22, 2008 Starbubbles rated it really liked it
Discusses Public History in terms of place and discusses local situations in which public memory and history converge
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