Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Self-employed Historian
Website URL
National parks, administrative history, public history, nature, environment, oral history
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Personal Info

About Me

Joan M. Zenzen is an independent public historian who has written histories about the management of and preservation challenges at national parks.  Her book Battling for Manassas:  The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park chronicles the efforts by developers and others to build everything from an interstate highway through the park to a regional shopping mall next to the park’s boundary.  According to former National Park Service chief historian Ed Bearss, in his foreword to her book, Zenzen’s analysis and descriptions are “insightful and invaluable. . . .  [She] does not ignore the people, long gone, who dreamed the dream.”  Zenzen completed a history of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, examining the vigorous efforts to preserve and interpret four Civil War battlefields encompassed by the park, stretched across 70 miles and five jurisdictions.  She has also written about American Revolutionary War battlefield parks Fort Stanwix and Minute Man.

Most recently, Zenzen has completed a history of Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota.  This history examines such controversial topics as snowmobiling in the park and land acquisition strategies.

Zenzen has conducted more 150 oral history interviews with government representatives, elected officials, preservationists, neighbors to national park units, business leaders, and people expressing disagreements with national park actions.

Recent Publications

Building a National Park:  A History of Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota (NPS, 2017)

At the Crossroads of Preservation and Development:  A History of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (NPS, 2011)

Fort Stanwix National Monument:  Reconstructing the Past and Partnering for the Future (SUNY Press, 2008)

Bridging the Past:  An Administrative History of Minute Man National Historical Park (NPS, 2010)

Battling for Manassas:  The Fifty-Year Preservation Struggle at Manassas National Battlefield Park (Penn State University Press, 1998)

Media Coverage
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
8, 9
Expertise by Topic
Art & Architectural History, Environment, Government, Public History