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The Battles of Germantown: Effective Public History in America
by David W. Young
Temple University Press, 2019
Cloth: 978-1-4399-1554-7 | eISBN: 978-1-4399-1556-1 | Paper: 978-1-4399-1555-4
Library of Congress Classification F159.G3Y68 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 974.811

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

Known as America’s most historic neighborhood, the Germantown section of Philadelphia (established in 1683) has distinguished itself by using public history initiatives to forge community. Progressive programs about ethnic history, postwar urban planning, and civil rights have helped make historic preservation and public history meaningful. The Battles of Germantown considers what these efforts can tell us about public history’s practice and purpose in the United States.  


Author David Young, a neighborhood resident who worked at Germantown historic sites for decades, uses his practitioner’s perspective to give examples of what he calls “effective public history.” The Battles of Germantown shows how the region celebrated “Negro Achievement Week” in 1928 and, for example, how social history research proved that the neighborhood’s Johnson House was a station on the Underground Railroad. These encounters have useful implications for addressing questions of race, history, and memory, as well as issues of urban planning and economic revitalization. 


Germantown’s historic sites use public history and provide leadership to motivate residents in an area challenged by job loss, population change, and institutional inertia. The Battles of Germantown illustrates how understanding and engaging with the past can benefit communities today.



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