Reconstructing Reconstruction: Post-Bellum Public History in the Smithsonian and National Park Systems

The September 2016 opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture offers a timely opportunity to evaluate how existing branches of the Smithsonian represent the era of Reconstruction, a period about which public opinion “matters more than most historical subjects” because “it forces us to think about what kind of society we wish America to be,” according to historian Eric Foner in a March 2015 Op-Ed in the New York Times.