“It’s a very good historical book about history.” – Dan Quayle
“Memory and history both derive and gain emphasis from physical remains. Tangible survivals provide a vivid immediacy that helps to assure us there really was a past. Physical remains have their limitations as informants, to be sure; they are themselves mute, requiring interpretation; their continual but differential erosion and demolition skews the record; and their substantial survival conjures up a past more static than could have been the case. But however depleted by time and use, relics remain essential bridges between then and now. They confirm or deny what we think of it, symbolize or memorialize communal links over time, and provide archaeological metaphors that illumine the processes of history and memory.” David Lowenthal, The Past is a Foreign Country (1985), p.xxiii
The NPS History Office was established in 1931 and since that time has conducted research on national parks, national historic landmarks, park planning and special history studies, oral histories, and interpretive and management plans. The mission of the History Program is to provide advice in the evaluation of proposed new national parks, and to support the WASO Cultural Resources Directorate, parks, and regional offices in all matters relating to the history and mission of the National Park Service.
Since many parks were created to commemorate pivotal events, groups and individuals in American history, the direction and advice the history program provides are critical to telling their stories. The Park History Program assists both individual parks and groups of parks with similar themes—such as Civil War battlefields, World War II parks, and parks related to the Westward Movement. The Park History Program routinely responds to questions regarding the wide and varied historic resources included in the National Park System, and is responsible for providing a wide range of publications, studies and documents in print and electronically.