Center for Restorative History

Together We Make History.
We Make History Inclusive.
We Make History Collaborative.
We Make History a Practical Tool for Justice.

Dear Makers of History,

How have you learned about the history of the United States? From teachers and textbooks in the classroom? Maybe from statues in public parks or a museum in your hometown? But, you may have also learned about U.S. history from the stories shared around your kitchen table, the music you listen to, and the protests that echo through our streets and in the news.

“There is no single story of American history. … American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”

—James Baldwin

Who makes history? Who decides which stories to tell? Through the Center for Restorative History (CRH) at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, we spotlight the people and stories that have been excluded from our national narrative using the principles of restorative justice. We do this by partnering with communities across the country that continue to resist these exclusions. Together, with their diverse voices, we make history and imagine a more just and inclusive future.

We invite you to join us as we dive into our collective past and explore its full complexity.

In Solidarity,

The CRH Team

What Is Restorative History?

As a center, we believe that telling marginalized histories alone is not enough.

Restorative History is a theory, a method, and a practice. It leverages the past to understand the root causes of historical harms and turns to community-based knowledge to define the best path forward.

Restorative History asks and acts on a set of questions about our shared past:

Graphic describing the set of questions that the Center for Restorative History asks and acts on, including: Who has been harmed? What are their needs? What are our obligations to meet those needs? What are the root causes of harm, past and present?

With this framework, CRH projects reimagine museum practices—from collections and research to exhibits and community collaboration.