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The Social Justice and Societal Impact of Public Programs in House Museums

Thesis by Marianna Clair (2016)

House museums have been struggling to stay current within their local communities for fifty years. One way to combat this waning interest in these institutions is by creating new programs and reconnecting with the students and families in their communities. The purpose of this research was to describe the ways that house museums develop and implement public programs for school groups and families that are designed to connect past and contemporary social issues together. This research explored ideas of public and private memory, house museums as a ‘community sense of place’, and their impact on society. Three leading historic house museums were examined to understand these questions and to provide implications for the future. This research suggests that there are three lasting impacts that historic house museums hope to have on their community: appreciation of local heritage, create activists in local communities, and to educate citizens about social issues. It is the hope that these three sites can be used an example for other historic house museums in the field looking to incorporate public programs into their institution.


Keywords: historic house, social change, programs, research, education, activism, community outreach, house museums. public programs, social issues


Clair, M. (2016). The social justice and societal impact of public programs in house museums (Order No. 10138540). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1821306914). Retrieved from