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Not as It Is Written: Blending Oral Histories and Historic Photographs in a Civil Rights Exhibition

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Benjamin HoustonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This article discusses an international exhibition that detailed the recent history of African Americans in Pittsburgh. Methodologically, the exhibition paired oral history excerpts with selected historic photographs to evoke a sense of Black life during the twentieth century. Thematically, showcasing the Black experience in Pittsburgh provided a chance to provoke among a wider public more nuanced understandings of the civil rights movement, an era particularly prone to problematic and superÔ¨Ācial misreadings, but also to interject an African American perspective into the scholarship on deindustrializing cities, a literature which treats racism mostly in white-centric terms. This essay focuses on the choices made in reconciling these thematic and methodological dimensions when designing this exhibition.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Houston B

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Public Historian

Year: 2020

Volume: 42

Issue: 2

Pages: 78-100

Print publication date: 07/05/2020

Online publication date: 07/05/2020

Acceptance date: 03/04/2020

Date deposited: 07/05/2020

ISSN (print): 0272-3433

ISSN (electronic): 1533-8576

Publisher: University of California Press


DOI: 10.1525/tph.2020.42.2.78


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