Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2015

Department 1



An anthropological study of the Gettysburg Museum and Visitors Center undertaken to understand the ways in which the visitor experience is conditioned by their own personal background, as well as filtered through the carefully constructed historical narrative created by museum historians, National Park Service rangers, and administrators. The Gettysburg Museum and Visitors Center is a site in which multiple stakeholders contend to ensure that their interpretations of the museum’s purpose is being upheld. This paper will examine the ways in which these various stakeholders – primarily NPS rangers, Civil War historians, and history buffs – interpret the catalyst(s) for constructing the new Gettysburg Visitors Center and Museum, and in turn how their understandings can be understood through the theoretical conception of the museum as a place of business, education, and enjoyment. Having outlined and analyzed their individual interpretations, I will then examine the visitor experience – through surveys given to visitors at the museum – as being conditioned by the explicit educational goals of the museum’s creators, as well as by the museum’s trifold status.


Anthropology Honors Thesis