History on the Government’s Dime

Practicing history as part of a state agency can be challenging, especially for a historic prison. This article uses Idaho as a case study to outline some of those challenges, and how historians must contend with conservative governments, racist pasts, and difficult prison history.

Of Plagues and Papers: COVID-19, the Media, and the Construction of American Disease History

In their attempts to make sense of the novel coronavirus, media outlets frequently invoke the past, comparing COVID-19 to the Black Death, the "Great Influenza" of 1918-19, and other historical disease outbreaks. The act of connecting "then" and "now" has produced two countervailing historical narratives: one that emphasizes medical progress over time, and another that highlights America's failure to learn the lessons of past pandemics.

Public History and Dark Tourism

This article looks at what it’s like to work at a dark tourism destination, in this case the Old Idaho Penitentiary. From a public history perspective, it details the challenges of practicing history responsibly, while also catering to visitor demand for paranormal programming such as macabre prison stories. Ultimately, lucrative paranormal investigations allow for more historically based, educational programming that may not be as popular, but fulfills the site’s mission of informing the public of Idaho and prison history.

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