Resources for Historical Dialogue

As the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026 gets closer, organizations across the United States—including corporations, universities, and nonprofits like the American Academy of Arts & Sciences— have begun to reflect on how we understand and present American history. The resources below have been developed to promote historical discussions that deal with both the “gory” and the “glory” of the nation’s past.

The work of historical dialogue is tied to Telling Our Nation’s Story, one of 31 recommendations in Our Common Purpose, the final report from the American Academy’s Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship. This recommendation encourages honest, inclusive conversations that help develop new narratives that incorporate all aspects of our history and find common hopes for the future of our country.

Tools for Inclusive Histories:

  • The American Association for State and Local History’s Semiquincentennial Field Guide provides guiding themes that historical professionals can use to prepare for 2026. These themes are designed to help advance a common narrative about the American past that acknowledges its tensions and promises.
  • Historic Decisions: Looking Deliberatively at the Past. These materials from The Kettering Foundation support critical deliberations about historical problems. They provide educators with tools to use in the classroom to foster critical thinking about historical topics.
  • More in Common’s Defusing the History War: Finding Common Ground in Teaching America’s National Story. These research findings illustrate how Americans are not as divided over their history and national identity as one might believe. There is a lot of common ground across the partisan divide about acknowledging historical failures and celebrating American achievements.

Tools for Memorialization and Historical Reckoning:

  • The History of Racist Violence in the United States. List of articles, resources, and teaching materials collected by the American Historical Association that provide background of various issues related to race and reckoning.
  • Report of The Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation to the President of Georgetown University (2016). You can read more about Georgetown’s working group, the university's history, and its ongoing reckoning efforts here.
  • Website of the President’s Commission on Slavery and the University, University of Virginia: Consortium of higher education institutions engaged in the work of historical reckoning. Also of note is “Memorialization and Mission at UVA,” a 2020 report from a working group charged with rethinking the names of buildings on UVA grounds.