Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Leisa Meyer


Promoting Tourism, Selling a Nation: The Politics of Representing National Identity in the United States 1930-1960, focuses on tourism and public culture in the United States, examining how institutions and public sites interpret their history, and the impact these representations have on community and national identity. The project centers on the United States Travel Bureau, the first federal agency tasked with promoting U.S. tourism on a national scale. Through its publicity campaigns, the Bureau attempted to distill the diversity of communities and traditions in the United States into a cohesive vision of American identity and heritage---one it promoted both at home and abroad---as the United States became a major player in world affairs and redefined its place in an international context. Balancing analysis of federal campaigns with case studies of two commemorative events, the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco and the 350th Anniversary of Jamestown, Virginia in 1957, the project explores this process of cultural representation, examining how federal, state, and different groups at the local level vied to assert their visions, and the politics that shaped which voices were included and which left out.;Though a critical period in tourism history for the United States, the mid-twentieth century has largely fallen into a historiographical gap, between studies that focus on early developments from the nineteenth century into the 1920s, and those that examine the era of mass tourism beginning in the 1950s. New Deal projects and programs are most often treated in literature confined to the years of the Great Depression. By tracing the development and influence of national tourism promotion from the late New Deal through the early Cold War era, this project bridges that gap, and considers how elements of 1920s business culture and community advertising, New Deal government programs, and developments in historic preservation and the interpretation of heritage sites all combined to shape representations of national culture.



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