Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Bárbara C. Cruz, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Janet Richards, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Stephen J. Thornton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin A. Yelvington, Ph.D.


Cemetery Education, African American history, Anthropology, Social Justice Education, Racialized Cultural Landscapes, Social Studies


In this qualitative exploratory study, I examine the influence of administrative curricular decision-makers’ beliefs and values towards race and ethnicity, heritage, and place on curricular aims for the inclusion of local difficult history associated with the erasure of a racialized cultural landscape, The Ridgewood Cemetery. I additionally examine the influence of contemporary issues on beliefs and values as administrative curricular decision-makers navigate ways to incorporate local cemetery history into secondary social studies curriculum. Through semi-structured interviews, document analysis, and research’s reflective journaling I shed light on ways beliefs, values, and contemporary issues influenced administrative curricular decision-making for local difficult history. I developed seven themes using reflexive thematic analysis: 1) personal experience; 2) engagement with time; 3) safety in standards; 4) being in place; 5) feeling history; 6) communication; 7) reality. By examining interactions between these themes, I was able to highlight participants’ desired curricular outcomes often conflicted with stated curricular goals. Participants created distance from their positionality in power structures through technical-rational administrative approaches to curricular decision-making to reconcile conflicting realities exposed by local difficult history, approached curricular decisions through narratives of progress to navigate differing truths, and relied on unmediated and mediated personal experiences to connect with local difficult history and reject contemporary influences. My concluding recommendations include 1) school districts confronted with local difficult history incorporate local community truths and place-based learning to disrupt power laden curricular decisions; 2) school districts provide administrative decision-maker space for reflexive analysis of beliefs when incorporating local difficult history; and 3) school districts explore diversity of truths associated with local difficult history through a dwelling approach.