Passionate Histories: ‘Outsider’ History-Makers and What They Teach Us.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Benjamin P. Filene, Associate Professor and Director of Public History (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Even as museums and sites struggle to attract audiences and bemoan the public’s lack of interest in history, people working outsidemuseums and universities, without professional training, and often without funding, are approaching history in ways that fire the enthusiasm of thousands. Unmoored by institutional expectations, they are what we might call “outsider history-makers”: genealogists, heritage tourism developers, and reenactors, among others. They establish emotional connections to the past that operate on the level of instinct more than intellect. As public history professionalizes, the field seems increasingly at odds with this approach. The efforts of the outsiders, however, suggest new strategies for drawing passionate audiences to museums and point to new sets of skills that public history training programs should be teaching their students.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
museum exhibitions, genealogy, professionalization, public history education, museum outreach

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