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Entering sacred ground: public history at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Baseball is the quintessential American game. To understand the country one must also understand the role baseball played in the nation's maturation process. Embedded in baseball's history are (among other

Baseball is the quintessential American game. To understand the country one must also understand the role baseball played in the nation's maturation process. Embedded in baseball's history are (among other things) the stories of America's struggles with issues of race, gender, immigration, organized labor, drug abuse, and rampant consumerism. Over the better part of two centuries, the national pastime both reflected changes to American culture and helped shape them as well. Documenting these changes and packaging them for consumption is the responsibility of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Founded as a tourist attraction promoting largely patriotic values, in recent decades the Baseball Hall of Fame made a concerted effort to transform itself into a respected member of the history museum community--dedicated to displaying American history through the lens of baseball. This dissertation explores the evolution of the Baseball Hall of Fame from celebratory shrine to history museum through an analysis of public history practice within the museum. In particular, this study examines the ways the Hall both reflected and reinforced changes to American values and ideologies through the evolution of public history practice in the museum. The primary focus of this study is the museum's exhibits and analyzing what their content and presentation convey about the social climate during the various stages of the Baseball Hall of Fame's evolution. The principal resources utilized to identify these stages include promotional materials, exhibit reviews, periodicals, and photographic records, as well as interviews with past and present Hall-of-Fame staff. What this research uncovers is the story of an institution in the midst of a slow transition. Throughout the past half century, the Hall of Fame staff struggled with a variety of obstacles to change (including the museum's traditionally conservative roots, the unquestioning devotion Americans display for baseball and its mythology, and the Hall of Fame's idyllic setting in a quaint corner of small-town America) that undermined their efforts to become the type of socially relevant institution many envisioned. Contending with these challenges continues to characterize much of the museum's operations today.

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  • 2013

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Culture in court: the saga of the Persepolis Tablets (a case study)

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This thesis explores the implications that the outcome of a certain U.S. lawsuit involving antiquities could have on practices and programs in the United States, related to cultural heritage and

This thesis explores the implications that the outcome of a certain U.S. lawsuit involving antiquities could have on practices and programs in the United States, related to cultural heritage and history. This paper examines the Rubin et al case, which sought to attach a collection of ancient Persian artifacts (known as The Persepolis Tablets) as a source of legal compensation. Presented as a case study, and using primary and secondary research sources, this paper analyzes the Rubin et al lawsuit and the factors that led to its initiation, and seeks to determine how and why adverse consequences could result from its final ruling. This thesis demonstrates that the final decision in the lawsuit could leave a negative impact on a number of practices related to cultural heritage in the United States, especially with regards to cultural and academic institutions such as museums and universities.

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  • 2011