Theses Master's

Concealed Certainty and Undeniable Conjecture: Interpreting Marginalized Heritage

Taylor, Tatum Alana

This thesis explores the predicament of interpreting historic sites that represent under-documented and otherwise underrepresented communities. After discussing the reinterpretation of sites related to the story of slavery—such as the Underground Railroad, Moticello, and Colonial Williamsburg—as a precedent, it focuses on house museums linked to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Five museums in New York State exemplify respective challenges to interpretation: the evolving language of identity, the questions of biographical and site-based relevance, political controversy, and difficulties arising from stakeholders and resources. These case studies contribute to the conclusion that interpreters should not categorically suppress controversy and informed conjecture at historic sites, as both can contribute to a site’s ongoing heritage narrative.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Dolkart, Andrew S.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2012