preservationVOICES: A Reading List

By Melita Juresa-McDonald posted 07-17-2015 15:46


PF2015_300x250_PHASE2We know that PastForward 2015 is months away but we wanted to kick off a PastForward tradition early – so here is the first of four reading lists to get you ready for the conference this November. While it’s the middle of summer and the thought of doing “homework” might seem like the last thing on your list of things to do, the PastForward reading lists are a great way to spark discussions before you get on the ground in D.C. this fall. Make sure to review the conference schedule for session descriptions as you work through the reading list and then feel free to comment on the PLF Blog post or start a discussion with your preservation peers on the Facebook PastForward events page.

This month we’ll take a look at preservationVOICES (read a preview of the entire conference), a track sponsored by the National Park Service.

This track kicks off with the preservationVOICES TrustLive. PastForward 2015 features four TrustLives, marquee presentations that were launched at last year’s conference. These presentations take a look at preservation through different lenses, bringing diverse perspectives to the discussion and allow for participants to virtually attend if they can’t make it to D.C. The TrustLives also serve to queue up the discussions that will take place in Learning Labs, Power Sessions and Field Studies.

Specifically, the preservationVOICES TrustLive will address a past lack of emphasis on the inclusion of diverse communities in the preservation of historic places and will discuss recent efforts to implement a focus on the experience of these communities. In the preservationVOICES Learning Labs we will further explore the term “diversity,” looking to address gaps in what we consider “diverse historic places.” We will also examine how our existing programs and policies might change so as to allow a wider embrace of different cultural backgrounds as we designate and the seek to preserve that which is considered “historic.”

Since the late 1990s, the National Park Service’s Cultural Resources Diversity Program has been exploring new ways to engage diverse communities and to bring their narratives forward. These efforts are reflected in Heritage Matters, a bi-annual newsletter covering diverse voices and stories, numerous studies providing visibility to underrepresented and marginalized narratives in our collective history, and a series of heritage initiatives – “multi-faceted projects” seeking ways in which historically underrepresented groups can have their stories told. One of the more recent heritage initiative reports, for example, is “A Report on the American Latino Heritage Initiative.”

 Maggie Walker National Historic Site, September 2007| Credit: John Murden via Flickr under Creative Commons
 Maggie Walker National Historic Site, September 2007| Credit: John Murden via Flickr under Creative Commons

On the heel of the Center for American Progress (CAP) report, “Better Reflecting Our Country’s Growing Diversity,” which Dr. Catherine Zipf analyzed for the Preservation Leadership Forum Blog this past March, CAP has just released a report titled “Building a More Inclusive National Park System for All Americans.” This new CAP report emphasizes that “while the America’s national parks and monuments have continued to become more inclusive over the past 25 years, the system still does not adequately reflect the nation’s growing diversity.” The report examines and compares the inclusivity of national parks, designated by Congress, and national monuments, designated by presidents. It concludes with recommendations for factoring diversity into the creation of national parks and monuments.

For further reading on how cultural institutions can preserve the history and culture of ethnic neighborhoods, we suggest the American Planning Association’s (APA) Planning and Community Health Research Center briefing paper, “How the Arts and Cultural Sector Strengthen Cultural Values and Preserve Heritage and History.” This paper is a part of series the APA developed in partnership with the RMC Corporation and with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation “to illustrate how planners use arts and culture strategies to achieve economic, social, environmental, and community goals.”

Several major cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have started identifying and recording historic places, resources, events, and the overall impact of LGBTQ Americans in our country’s collective narrative. The City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources recently published “SurveyLA LGBT Historic Context Statement,” which provides an in-depth narrative on the historic sites, structures, buildings, associations and individuals that have played significant roles in the advancement and integration of LGBTQ communities into the fabric of Los Angeles.

 A screenshot of a 1980's picture of the Vietnam Center in "Little Saigon Clarendon" in Arlington, VA pinned to the “East at Main Street: APIA Mapping project” HistoryPin channel. To learn more about the “Little Saigon” visit Echoes of Little Saigon website, dedicated to the stories of the Vietnamese community in Arlington and Clarendon, especially its “further reading” tab.

Also read about how in late February of this year, the Los Angeles City Council named a part of a West Los Angeles neighborhood along Sawtelle Boulevard “Sawtelle Japantown,” making it de facto the fourth Japantown1 in the United States, and the second one in Los Angeles2. For their “Capstone Community-based Research: Asian American Enclaves and Community Institutions” projects, students from the Department of Asian American Studies at UCLA looked at Sawtelle Japantown through the lens of the history and trajectory of Japanese American neighborhoods, what it means for an Asian American neighborhood to have an official landmarking designation, and what role cultural institutions can play in preserving the history and culture of an ethnic neighborhood such as Sawtelle Japantown.

Below we’ve included further reading related to this topic in the Preservation Leadership blog and material that is just for members of Preservation Leadership Forum. Think we missed something? Make sure to pass it along in the comments section below (or shoot us an email at with the subject line: PreservationVoices Reading List).

From the Preservation Leadership Forum blog

Finally, check out our Why Do Old Places Matter? series. On this page you'll read the blog posts and web companions and find out more about the recent Forum Journal on the same topic. If you’re a Preservation Leadership Member you can access it on Forum Online. If you are not a member download the issue here.

Forum Journal

Imagining a More Inclusive Preservation Program, Forum Journal, Volume 28, Number 3, Spring 2014


1. Ma, Aileen, “The Changing Face of the San Francisco Japantown: A Western Addition Story,” Clio’s Scroll, the Berkeley Undergraduate History Journal, University of California, Berkeley, January 2014. 54-66. Accessed June 21, 2016.

2. Jenks, Hillary, "Home Is Little Tokyo: Race, Community, and Memory in Twentieth-Century Los Angeles," American Studies & Ethnicity, University of Southern California, August 2008. Accessed July 16, 2015.

#PastForward #Diversity #DC2015 #ForumReferenceDesk

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