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For more than twenty years, Tim Grove has worked at the most popular history museums in the United States, helping millions of people get acquainted with the past. This book translates that experience into an insider’s tour of some of the most interesting moments in American history. Grove’s stories are populated with well-known historical figures such as John Brown, Charles Lindbergh, Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and Sacagawea—as well as the not-so-famous. Have you heard of Mary Pickersgill, seamstress of the Star-Spangled Banner flag? Grove also has something to say about a few of our cherished myths, for instance, the lore surrounding Betsy Ross and Eli Whitney.
Grove takes readers to historic sites such as Harpers Ferry, Fort McHenry, the Ulm Pishkun buffalo jump, and the Lemhi Pass on the Lewis and Clark Trail and traverses time and space from eighteenth-century Williamsburg to the twenty-first-century Kennedy Space Center. En route from Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic to Cape Disappointment on the Pacific, we learn about planting a cotton patch on the National Mall, riding a high wheel bicycle, flying the transcontinental airmail route, and harnessing a mule. Is history relevant? This book answers with a resounding yes and, in the most entertaining fashion, shows us why.
Tim Grove is chief of museum learning at the National Air and Space Museum. He is the coauthor of The Museum Educator's Manual and received the 2008 Smithsonian Individual Achievement in Education Award.
"This semiautobiographical journey of a versatile, peregrinating public historian is instructive and inspirational for museum docents; informative for history buffs, especially those interested in the background of educational institutions outside the academy; and helpful for administrators of public programs. All readers will appreciate the author's learning techniques for eliciting questions, sparking the imagination, and promoting transcultural understanding, as well as his acknowledgement of cultural sensitivity, multiple perspectives, and changing interpretations."—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library Journal
1. Why History?
2. Stepping Back in Time, Almost
3. Challenging History
4. The Everest of Museums
5. Conquering the High Wheeler
6. Does This Make Cotton or Gin?
7. Mary, Not Betsy
8. That Strange Creature the Mule
9. When Houses Talk
10. Water Battle on the Missouri
11. You Can’t Write My History
12. A Grizzly in the Mail
13. Tracking the Buffalo
14. The Cathedral and the Cemetery
15. We’re Flying over Hell Stretch?
16. How Lucky Was Lindy?
17. Passionate Pretenders