Back in 2012 GSL issue 17 I published an article called "The Perils of Popularization" that took a critical look at the intersection of history and entertainment. It was inspired by how some in the history world questioned the propriety of things like "ghost tours" by historic sites, cemeteries, etc. Is it just good fun? Does it "cheapen" history? Is it a smart way to raise money as well as awareness, or is it just selling out?
In that piece, I presented arguments from a range of people in the NJ history world and beyond, both pro and con.
As we approach the Halloween season, many museums and groups are planning such ghoulish gatherings, so I thought it might be interesting to revisit these questions and give GSL's readers an opportunity to weigh in again.
So let's hear from you! What are your thoughts? What experiences have you or your organization had, either good or bad?
Post by Randall Gabrielan on Oct 5, 2019 14:22:10 GMT -5
Needy historical organizations sponsor them because they bring in money and attract new audiences. However, I doubt any become history supporters or participants because of the ghost experience. Personally, I cannot respect anyone who believes in ghosts.
Post by mrlocalhistory on Oct 7, 2019 8:05:10 GMT -5
I think it's a GREAT idea - History is history and it usually comes with some form originating with real history - I write stories about history in our area of the Somerset Hills and people love it - www.mrlocalhistory.org/horrortales/
Post by Billy Neumann on Oct 7, 2019 14:02:47 GMT -5
Possible Considerations for Paranormal Entertainment at Historic Sites?
Paranormal "entertainments" are only beneficial to a historic sites as far as they are additional, extraordinary or special occasions to the normal educational programs of the historic site and providing that: □ they, at most, represent +80 Fact / -20 Fictional (ghost stories) and the "fictions" are stated as so; □ they are stated as suppositions or stories and that the stories do not distort facts regarding the site and its history but context them accurately and without bias; □ that the entertainments are not replacing factual education in resources for presentation and research; □ that the entertainment is paid for and the revenue is applied to factual discover and ongoing historical and factual programs; □ that the entertainment is paid for and the revenue is applied to factual discover and ongoing historical and factual programs; □ that there is a disclaimer as to believe or disbelief on the part of the historic or cultural organization hosting the entertainments; □ that audiences are allowed to ask questions and remark on the entertainments and relevance to the factual historic or cultural context; □ that there is little if no embellishments (costumed reenactments, headless guys, displayed nooses, creepy lighting / music or table rattling)unless revealed as fictional representations
All my considered opinions....I would add that this goes for internally run, originated programs and external fundraisers for outside organizations using the site as an "entertainment location" such as a Paranormal TV Show or the VFW.
Post by Erik L. Burro on Oct 9, 2019 6:07:49 GMT -5
Personally, I am not a fan of such tours, but I see no reason for being against them. It really boils down to how it is conducted and the way the HISTORY is being presented. It does offer an opportunity to reveal local stories about people and places that might not never come up otherwise. As I ponder the question, it seem there are at least two approaches. The first is to select the Horrific, goulash and creepy stories about a town’s past. Murder, strange cult behavior, missing bodies, bizarre accidents, etc Admittedly, they are really popular but not my own preference, particularly, if it’s being done by a community’s historic site or institution. The other type would be visiting a graveyard or old, or maybe even an abandoned building and telling real stories, about the past that have a fantastical spin to them, even heroic, with an outcome outcome that was not necessarily deadly. There are plenty of stories that might never be told, if a “haunted tour“ was used not used as a means to that end. Both types require good story telling, but I favor an “experience” that passes on something worth knowing.
Post by kenroginski on Oct 31, 2019 12:30:45 GMT -5
It is a fact that combining history with ghosts draws a huge crowd of people to a site. In my own business of historic home preservation I have found that the majority of historic home lovers also love history and are believers in an after-life. Since one of the main goals of a public historic site is to raise money I feel that closed-mindedness to the possibility of the unknown should not be discounted. Hosting a ghost tour can also be used to expose others to feel more connected to history. Personally I believe in God and spirits of the dead, and as was stated earlier, I nave no respect for those who do not believe in the possibility of what is unknown and judge the beliefs of others.