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.
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.