From Tokenism to True Partnership: The National Park Service's Shifting Interpretation at the Civil War's Sesquicentennial

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Civil War Era Studies


The National Park Service's commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial began and ended in Charleston, South Carolina, but not necessarily by design. From Charleston to Charleston, from April 2011 to June 2015, it wound its way across battlefields in Tennessee, Virginia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, city streets in Richmond and Washington, DC, fifty-two miles of roadside in Alabama, and the newsfeeds of thousands of Facebook users. Along that journey, that commemoration shifted and changed. The Civil War sesquicentennial we ended was certainly not the one we set out to celebrate. [excerpt]


Originally published in Interpreting the Civil War at Museums and Historic Sites, edited by Kevin M. Levin.

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