Presenting Archaeology to the Public in the USA


Recognition of the need for more and better public education about archaeology is a worldwide phenomenon that also has many proponents in the United States, led by national archaeological organizations and public agencies with archaeological programmes. The Society for American Archaeology (SAA), the Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA), and the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) have active committees on public education. Public education and outreach to the general public were identified in a survey of SAA members as one of the highest priorities of the Society. Public officials throughout the Federal Government promote public education in a variety of ways. The Secretary for the Interior, the federal official in the United States responsible for national leadership and coordination in archaeological and historic preservation programmes, has made

improving public education opportunities a principal focus of his strategy for government archaeology in the United States. The 1988 amendments to the Archaeological Resources Protection Act included a provision that required Federal land-managing agencies (Federal agencies manage about one-third of

the land in the USA) to establish public education programmes to inform the public about the value and importance of archaeological resources and their preservation and so reduce, and ultimately eliminate, archaeological vandalism and looting, a worthwhile, if very long-term, objective. Several government agencies involved in archaeology have developed publicly oriented programmes. The Bureau of Land Management has a nationwide programme entitled 'Adventures in the Past.' The Forest Service has for several years provided opportunities for the public to visit or take part in professionally supervised archaeological investigations, 'Passports in Time.' The National Park Service has provided public interpretations at its archaeological units for many of its seventy-five years. Other national, State, Tribal

and local agencies are making similar public outreach efforts as part of their archaeological programs.

Cite this Record

Presenting Archaeology to the Public in the USA. Francis McManamon, Peter G. Stone, Brian L. Molyneaux. In The Presented Past: Heritage, Museums and Education. Pp. 61-81. London, England: Routledge. 1994 ( tDAR id: 373275) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8MC8XD2

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Francis McManamon

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