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Controversial Monuments

This libguide serves to provide an introduction to the topic of the removal of historical monuments including its historical context, public perception and resources available through UMD and other outside organizations.


Welcome! This guide serves as a supplemental resource for the 2023-2024 First Year Book, Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments by Erin L. Thompson. This guide will examine the ongoing debate of statue removal and destruction across the United States, including its history, public opinion, and additional contributing factors to the conversation. Resources provided include books, articles, videos, podcasts, and images.

To learn more about UMD's First Year Book program and the events for Smashing Statues, click here.

(Image Description: Monument of John B. Castleman in Louisville, Ky., removed on June 8. 2020.)

Pat McDonogh / The Courier Journal via Reuter

Smashing Statues

Erin L. Thompson is the author of the 2022 book, Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America's Public Monuments. She is an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a specialization in art crimes. Her first book, Possession: The Curious History of Private Collectors from Antiquity to the Present, explored the criminal underbelly of art looting and its underlying reasonings. Additionally, Thompson has written articles including Art from GuantánamoHobby Lobby's Antiquities TroubleIf we return Nazi-looted art, the same goes for empire-looted and Why People Collect Art.

(Image Description: Photo of Erin L. Thompson)