A Photographic History of American Memory

The Memorial Project is a photographic history of American memorial practice since 1865. Using film photography to document monuments, artifacts, and spaces of collective and official public memory, the project aims to interrogate “how America remembers.” It is a voyage of discovery through narratives of the past, to significant events of national and community trauma, and to processes of healing and reconciliation.

The journey begins in New York City and northern New Jersey, where I encounter the physical embodiments of public memory in the absent shadows of the World Trade Center towers in my own backyard every day. From there, it progresses to the capitals, metropolises, and town squares of the United States. There are more than 27,000 entries in the National War Memorial Registry alone, so this conversation with the past, and with the many ways that we remember it, will be ongoing.

The Memorial Project offers readers and encounter with those memories in weekly profiles of memorial monuments of all sizes, featuring photographs and short descriptions of their background and meanings – both intended and unintended. The profiles are complemented with in-depth analytical essays on the history of American memorial practice.

– Matthew Friedman

About the Author

Photo by Molly J. Giblin

Matthew Friedman is a photographer, filmmaker, and writer in the New York City area. He teaches US and digital history at Rutgers University, Newark. His research focuses on 20th century American sound cultures and avant-garde music. In addition to his scholarly work, he has worked as a journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Montreal Gazette, The National Post, Wired News, and InternetWeek. He is a member of the National Press Photographers Association.


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