Title

Fort Ross State Historic Park: A Case Study of the Successful Implementation of Public History Methods by a State Park and Museum

Graduation Date

5-2017

Document Type

Senior Thesis (Campus only Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Department or Program Chair

Jordan Lieser, Ph.D.

First Reader

Jordan Lieser, Ph.D.

Abstract

Fort Ross Historic State Park is an academically acclaimed and internationally recognized state park and museum, nestled on the coast of Jenner, California. The Russian American Company was sanctioned to establish a supplemental Russian settlements in California to supply Alaskan fur trading outposts with food and grain. Upon their arrival at Colony Ross, they employed the native inhabitants, the Kashaya Pomo, in a fairly symbiotic relationship. The historical context of Fort Ross. In 2010, the Renova Foundation, a Russian investment company, collaborated with California to supplement funding that the State was unable to provide Fort Ross. This private investment ushered in an avenue for community involvement on a much grander scale than the pre-existing state academic atmosphere cultivated. In its modern capacity, the Fort Ross foundation integrates three aspects of communication of the past: research-based academic authority, the consumer demand and comprehension level of the public, and finally, economic sponsors. The Fort Ross heritage site provides history to its local and international public through a variety of modern media, community outreach programs, scholastic conferences, and their online websites. In order to trace the development of For Ross’s Public History over time, key figures were interviewed and archival research was performed which led to the understanding of Fort Ross as a focal point of national identity for Native Americans, Russian-Americans, and Russians. This research illustrates the tenacious commitment of the Renova Fort Ross Foundation, Fort Ross Conservancy and California State Park Cooperation Association to an authentic representation of the past, and all of the histories therein. As such, Fort Ross is an unrivaled example of the effective implementation of public history through a heritage site.

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