Why Challenge History?

It’s hard to believe, but even in an educated nation like the United States, an alarming number of citizens have a poor understanding of American history. Many don’t believe the Civil War was fought over slavery, don’t know about women’s struggles to achieve the vote, or never learned how ruthlessly Native Americans were expelled from their land. Many fail to recognize or understand the lasting legacies of our history and how they relate to the struggles of today.

This is the motivation behind Challenging History: A St. Louis Collaborative. The members of our group – from local academic institutions, national parks, historic sites, and museums – are committed to challenging and correcting many of the incomplete and over-simplified histories we were taught in school, especially those related to the St. Louis area.

We acknowledge that giving voice to difficult episodes from our past can often challenge us and make us uncomfortable. We want to empower students, teachers, and the general public to question traditional narratives and search for the truth.

Mission Statement

Mission: The mission of the collaborative is to challenge traditional historical narratives to build more inclusive, place-based storytelling about St. Louis’ pasts.

Purpose: Partners will collaborate with historic sites, museums, parks, educational institutions, and the public to present historical content from multiple perspectives and encourage civic engagement to address current social and cultural challenges.

Collaborators: Educators, historians, community leaders and their associated organizations, agencies, and institutions.

Process: Partners will work individually and jointly on an ad hoc basis to offer place-based programs in a variety of formats. As a community of practice, the collaborative will share resources and expertise, including cross-promotion of programs and events.

Methods: Collaborators may offer the following:

  • Professional and pre-professional development opportunities for students, educators, and interpreters
  • Collaborative research projects
  • Virtual and on-site programs
  • Lesson plans, course materials, and resources
  • Other programs/events/activities that support the mission