Reflection On Public History Essay

1372 words - 6 pages

The first part of Practicum in Public History includes understanding the connection between history, museums, and communities. There is ambiguity coming into a class that is unknown to the student on the first day of class. Specific reactions differ from class to class. This is a chance to explore and earn practical experience in Public History. Despite not knowing much about Public History, the course material provided a different way of thinking because several museums implement different ideas.
The first site visit is Rancho Camulos located in Ventura County. The mission statement indicates, “Rancho Camulos is a National Historic Landmark situated within a working ranch.” Everything ...view middle of the document...

In week four there was a guest speaker, Dr. Karen Wilson, who is an exhibit curator for the Autry National Center. She talked about the history of the Jewish population in Los Angeles. The particular exhibition she works on is Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic. There was a large amount of Jewish people living in Boyle Heights and in came the tourist trade for postcards. Many had come to California for their health and the fresh air. The Jewish people also have their communal life, which includes the building of their synagogues. Education and religious organizations are prominent for that period in Los Angeles. In addition, a map contains where the Jewish population once lived in that region. Their significance is apparent in Hollywood. Toward the end of the exhibit, there is an opinion poll for the visitors. Many visitors, in fact, feel enlightened by the exhibit. There is a way to introduce family and friends to a culturally specific museum without the feeling of exclusion. Rancho Camulos lightly touches on the history of the Mexican American inhabitants of California. There are obstacles that many families had to deal with. The families receiving the land grant have to be able to provide for themselves. On top of that, there are many Americans coming from the east. The squatters are a problem for these families. The docents for Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic have their own way of connecting to the visitors. Docents can tell a personal story to connect to certain objects. Dr. Wilson explains the exhibit as a relationship between the place and the people. There is a particular focus on the place, which can also explain why certain families feel enlightened after their visit to the exhibit. The reading each week connects to the project for Rancho Camulos.
There is an overlying theme for each museum. Certain museums are celebratory for their community or reconcile past injustices. This idea comes from “Revisiting the Old Plantation: Reparations, Reconciliation, and Museumizing American Slavery” by Fath Davis Ruffins. People use the term “holocaust” to describe slavery in African American history. This term is also common among local groups. The Middle Passage uses “holocaust” for those who have died by using public rituals. However, the term “holocaust” also represents the mass murder of the Jewish population led by Adolf Hitler. There are two opposite trends: memorialization of slavery and its injustices in order to argue for reparations and the other is towards “racial reconciliation.” Looking back at all these culturally specific museums is a form of expressing experiences of those people who may have no felt included in the society. This gives the visitors the chance to speculate and learn from past mistakes. Tying this in with Rancho Camulos, there is a culturally specific theme. There are families related to those who worked on the ranch. The museum also focuses on the Del Valle and Rubel family. This opens the experience and...

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