Historic Preservation as a Tool for a More Just World


Open Discussion November 14th at Jones Library

Historic preservation often gets criticized for being aesthetically elitist, concerned with only celebratory history. But recent efforts within the preservation movement tell a different story. Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States, coedited by UMass Amherst professors Max Page and Marla Miller, shares fifty essays by scholars who ask: “If the ‘arc of the moral universe . . . bends towards justice,’ how can preservation be a tool for achieving a more just society and world?”

With the generous underwriting of Mass Humanities, UMass Press will host an open discussion titled "Bending the Future: Preservation as a Tool for a More Just World" at the Jones Library, November 14, 7-9 pm, free and open to the public. The panelists for this open discussion are contributors to Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for the Next Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in the United States. They will share ideas that chart a possible future for historic preservation--one that could build a more just world. The editors of the book, Max Page and Marla Miller, will moderate.

The towns in the Connecticut River Valley are filled with histories that are both remembered and forgotten, glorified and suppressed. How has that come to be? Why are some stories part of what we know and some long gone? What buildings are marked to stay and which to go? How do we house our growing numbers while preserving our New England landscape? 

Please join us for what promises to be a thought-provoking evening.

Bending the Future will also be at the New York City Public Library

On October 19, the New York Public Library will host a roundtable to discuss how we can make the historic preservation movement a central tool for building a more just world.

Moderated by Page, the roundtable takes place almost exactly fifty years after the landmark National Historic Preservation Act was signed by President Johnson in October of 1966. That Act created much of the system of saving old places we know today— the National Register of Historic Places, local and state historic commissions, regulations for rehabilitation.  The panelists—all of whom contributed essays to Bending the Future—will discuss ways to build a progressive historic preservation movement implementing innovative ideas for the next fifty years of historic preservation.

Please see the New York Public Library for details on this roundtable discussion.

Page, a professor of architecture and history and director of the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is working with a historic preservation team to tackle the hidden legacy of Richmond's Shockoe Bottom Slave Market. For more on this story, please visit WVTF Public Radio.

Miller, editor of the UMass Press series Public History in Historical Perspective and professor and director of the public history program in the history department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was recently elected vice president and president elect of the National Council on Public History (NCPH).