Conference Poster. Photo credit: Arts Extension Service at UMass Amherst.
For most of my experience as a public-historian-in-training, I did not often think about the arts in any purposeful way. I played in an orchestra from elementary school through college, have a not-so-secret love for musicals (my roommates are probably tired of hearing me sing Disney songs in the shower!), and enjoy visiting art museums as much as the next person, but I would not consider myself an artist. After all, my formal training is in history. This all changed last year when I decided that I needed some practical management skills in order to feel confident about running a historical organization after graduation. To learn about financial management, strategic planning, development, and the like, I decided to pursue a certificate in arts management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to complement my public history degree. I felt like a bit of an outsider in the Arts Management Program. Everyone that I met at the Arts Extension Service (AES) organization on campus that runs the arts management program was lovely, but I did not necessarily feel like I was part of that world.
My perspective changed on September 26, when I attended the Arts Extension Service’s conference titled “Arts Policy on the Ground: The Impact of the National Endowment for the Arts.” First, we had a lot to celebrate. Not only is AES commemorating its 40th anniversary, but the National Arts Policy Archives and Library (NAPAAL), which will be part of the UMass Special Collections and University Archives, is opening this year as well. NAPAAL currently contains publications and research reports from the National Endowment for the Arts, records from the Arts Extension Service, and will soon also include papers from Americans for the Arts as well as the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Continue reading →
Vulcan statue, Birmingham, Alabama, built in 1904 to help brand the city and reflect the importance of its iron and steel industry. Photo credit: Flickr user Katie Bordner.
The History Relevance Campaign (HRC), for lack of a better name, is a grassroots movement made up of public historians who say it’s time to show why the study and practice of history develop life skills that contribute to a stronger citizenry and are crucial to our nation’s future. We can say it and write it all we want, but as every writer knows, it has a more powerful impact if we show it.
Certainly the topic of history’s value to society is not new. It has been discussed many times before. This particular effort was sparked in a conversation at the Seminar for Historical Administration (@SHA) last year. A small core of people then instigated an initial working group meeting of twelve people during American Alliance of Museum (AAM) Museums Advocacy Day last February which brought together representatives from the Smithsonian, American Historical Association (AHA), NCPH, National History Day, American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), and three state history organizations. A lively conversation ensued, and it continued at last year’s NCPH conference, AAM annual meeting, at National History Day’s national competition, and most recently at AASLH’s annual meeting, both at the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Forum and in general session. The HRC working group is trying to seize opportunities to gather history folks of all shapes and sizes to hold discussions that will eventually lead to an action plan. Let me provide a brief overview of what the group has done and what it is and isn’t. Continue reading →
A human rights workshop with university students at José Domingo Cañas (Photo: Yenny Aros). Read more about this site here.
I do not know how many of the learned people who follow this forum know that 40 years ago today the United States government—and to point political fingers at political figures: President Richard Nixon, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and CIA Director Richard Helms—actively and illegally supported a bloody military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government in Chile. A lot, I suppose and hope. But I feel compelled to write not only in order to gently remind History@Work’s audiences of the historical importance of this, but also to draw attention to the public history work that has happened to make it worthy of the international attention that it so rightly deserves—and receives. Continue reading →
Over the past decade a growing number of public historians have responded to debates about climate change and the need for sustainable communities by making sustainability a central focus of their professional work. These efforts were initially informal, but as Leah Glaser described in a post earlier this year, in recent years there has been a push to incorporate issues of sustainability into the mission and work of the National Council on Public History.
In response to the report produced by the Working Group on Sustainability that formed for the NCPH annual meeting in 2012, the board of the NCPH approved the formation of a Task Force on Environmental Sustainability and Public History. The members of the task force are currently engaged in drafting a white paper for the 2014 annual meeting in Monterey. As part of its work to determine how environmental sustainability might fit within NCPH’s mission, the task force has written a short survey to gauge the current state of affairs in the public history profession and public history education and to provide suggestions for future actions and possible follow-up projects. We invite you to complete the survey and to help us learn more about the current level of concern about issues of environmental sustainability. The survey should take about 10 minutes.
In 1975 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development designated a one-square-mile part of Decatur, Georgia an Urban Homesteading Demonstration Program neighborhood. The designation meant that the city’s housing authority could sell distressed properties in its inventory to qualified buyers for one dollar.
The 113 homes sold between 1975 and 1982 initiated successive waves of gentrification in the inner ring Atlanta suburb. By the turn of the 21st century, Decatur was home to hip restaurants and bars and the former urban homesteading neighborhood had become fertile territory for teardowns and mansionization.
After my wife and I moved to the neighborhood in 2011, I watched and filmed one of the former dollar homes being demolished. My subsequent research into housing history in South Decatur brought me into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory as a historian who specializes in architectural and industrial history: the contentious nexus of race, class, and privilege in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Continue reading →
The Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island was the first property listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by Juli)
The first Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places turned 90 this month. He is well-known professionally and personally among those who worked on behalf of historic preservation in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. William J. Murtagh is equally well-known to today’s generation of preservation teachers and students. He is the author of Keeping Time, the wonderfully readable overview of “the history and theory of preservation in America.” The book was first published in 1988 and is now in its third edition because of its enormous popularity in college courses on historic preservation, architectural history, and public history.
There is another significant birthday approaching: the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Enacted in 1966, NHPA will reach the five-decade mark in 2016, just three years from now. The act established the National Register of Historic Places, a funding mechanism to promote preservation, a process for reviewing the effects of federal actions on historic resources, and eventually a system of state historic preservation offices, among other provisions. It is widely considered one of the most important achievements of the founding generation of the modern preservation movement. Some see NHPA more generally as a watershed moment in American thinking about the role of place in history and space in memory. Continue reading →
As part of a 350.org demonstration of the effects of climate change, people in Mongolia point out a drought-diminished river. (Photo: 350.org)
Public historians have long engaged with environmental topics and environmental historians to explore the long-term material effects of the decisions, actions, and conceptions of people in the past. As we move toward the 2014 NCPH conference, with its theme of “Sustainable Public History,” this is a good moment to take stock of some of those disciplinary conversations and to think about how to move them forward in a time of accelerating environmental challenges and crises. Continue reading →
It’s graduation season, also known as commencement. What better time to commence reflecting on the roles we want to play as historical consultants! Tomorrow, Monday, June 3rd, will bring you our eighth monthly Consultants’ Corner Tweetchat. The chat will be held at 4:00 p.m. EST and the topic will be “consulting and advocacy.” We will discuss the roles consultants should or shouldn’t play as advocates for historic preservation, public access, multiple points of view and other key issues we encounter regularly in the field. We hope you can join us!
To participate in this and future TweetChats, you will need to sign up for a Twitter account by going to www.twitter.com. When it’s time for the chat, go to http://tweetchat.com/ and enter #phconchat as the chat hashtag. Alternatively, you can work with a special Twitter browser like TweetDeck. Let us know if you have any questions in advance of the chat, and we hope to see you there on Monday!
~ The Consultants’ Corner Editorial Team (@NCPHconsultants)
Poster from first May Day rally officially allowed by the Turkish government since 1977. The rally brought 200,000 people to Taksim Square in Istanbul. The poster uses the image from the rally held in 1977. Collection of the author.
As a trade union leader and a political activist, I had occasions to attend national and international events. Often, other attendees would bring posters from their respective organizations. I would usually take one of each because I was attracted to either the graphics or the issue or both. After a few years of this, and having obtained a critical mass, I decided to try to raise some modest funds for inexpensive frames and create a couple of exhibits. It seemed a shame to have these interesting posters sitting in my attic.
The project started off modestly as I had a demanding full-time job and other commitments. The number of framed posters began increasing, as did the number of exhibits.
Flash forward 15 years and 4,000 posters later, and I now find myself staging at least three exhibits a month. Continue reading →
From the opening reception of Migrating Archives, on current exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society. Courtesy of E.G. Crichton.
The second part of this art and public history conversation series features artist E.G. Crichton. In addition to being professor in the Art Department at UC Santa Cruz, Crichton is the first artist-in-residence for the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco. Her work, since she began her tenure there, has intentionally pulled the archives into public and personal forums. In her first major project, LINEAGE: Matchmaking in the Archive, Crichton positioned herself as matchmaker, connecting living persons with a specific archival collection at GLBTHS. The living participants then authored original work based on their match with and connection to the dead. Crichton recently opened her newest exhibition, Migrating Archives, on February 1, which tells stories of LGBT lives from archival collections around the world.In her responses, Crichton reflects upon her work at the GLBTHS (and the extent to which it can serve as a model for other institutions), on the matchmaking process, and on introducing forgotten histories into public memory. The full transcript of the interview can be found here.
The first post in this two-part series, linking to an interview with the Atlanta based art/idea collective John Q, can be found here.
~ Julia Brock is Director of Interpretation for the Department of Museums, Archives, and Rare Books and is curator at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education, Kennesaw State University (near Atlanta, Georgia). She received her Ph.D. in Public History from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2012.