Our own Jack Pittenger has headed to Las Vegas to attend the annual meeting of the National Council on Public History, This year’s theme, “Power Lines,” is especially reflective of the host city’s history—not simply because its hustle and bustle rests on its myriad power lines but because, like most American cities, Las Vegas has a complicated history. It is the site of countless struggles between disparate groups seeking to control their own destiny. Two questions are at the heart of this year’s conference:
- Can public history help us envision a civic whole?
- What is public history’s role in helping to build a community?
These questions have great and pressing relevance for Americans, who are engaged in a very public discussion about the role of history in shaping our understanding of who we are.