Historical Tours

17 Feb
Confluence Greenway Audio Tour

The Confluence Greenway Audio Tour

Historical tours won’t get much in-class attention due to our visits to local history sites, but I would like to use this post as a place to discuss historical tours, audio tours, and our collective readings about tours. Our reading from Cathy Stanton’s book offers an in-depth and quite critical interpretation of tours at the Lowell National Historical Park. The section on the Linked audio tour suggests that collaboration between historians and artists can lead to creative new ways to think about tours. And the Confluence Greenway Audio Tour is a local example of a cell phone tour.

What did you think about these readings? Did you find one model for history tours more compelling than another? What makes a tour interesting, thought-provoking, or unique? Have you been on any history tours that were especially interesting? Use the comments section to share your thoughts.

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3 Responses to “Historical Tours”

  1. Christina Carlson February 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Although quite critical of the interpreters, I thought Stanton’s consideration of the Lowell tours was very eye opening. For one, she makes a strong case for how guided tours can serve as an excellent opportunity to connect the past and present, and to open dialogues about the themes presented at a public historical site. I especially like her thought on p62 when she states: “This is precisely the goal of progressive public history – to seize small opportunities and compound them into larger visions of the processes we are all a part of.”

    I think audio and guided tours can make a public historical experience more significant for the visitor.

    • Tom Thompson February 23, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      I also thought the story of the interpreters was interesting. It seems the NPS has put the interpreters in a difficult position. Moving them out of the static exhibits and into the neighborhood makes their tours less predictable and the examples seem like they are not prepared for it. They also seem to be asked to interpret the sociology of the the area, a task for which they may not be trained.

      I can’t say I’ve used audio guides before, but for tours, the interpreters at the Stephenson house in Edwardsville provided an excellent description of the family’s daily life.

  2. Becky Johnston February 24, 2011 at 10:11 am #

    I taken a few audio tours throughout my years and enjoyed the almost personalized guidence. They’re like having an interpreter right there with you, the drawback is that the communication is only one way. I’ve taken the audio tour at cahokia Mounds quite a few times. Walking the premarked paths while listening to the explanations of the mounds’ functions gives a better sense of the world of the mississippians at Cahaokia Mounds than just walking through the museum. For Monks Mound, there is even a cell phone tour.

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