Civil War Tourism as City Revitalization: Helena, Arkansas

Civil War Tourism as City Revitalization: Helena, Arkansas

But our guide also expressed great optimism for the future of Helena and a blooming revitalization of the area, including work planned for that Main Street area to renovate some of the empty buildings into new stores and hotels. A key part of this revitalization, I could tell by the end of the day, was the use of historic tourism and highlighting the history (particularly the Civil War history) of the area.

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Historic Site Review: Frogmore Cotton Plantation, Natchez, MS

Historic Site Review: Frogmore Cotton Plantation, Natchez, MS

In the midst of conversation and debate about how to best interpret slavery at historic sites, I recently visited Frogmore Plantation in Natchez, Mississippi. When my family signed up to take a tour of this working cotton plantation as part of our Mississippi River cruise, I was admittedly excited but with some trepidation. Viewing the experience through the historian’s lens, it could have been enlightening or terrible.

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Material Culture and the Confederate Monument Debate

Material Culture and the Confederate Monument Debate

Thus we also need to remember that the monuments we build, the sites we preserve, and the places we name are never just about history.  They are and have always been about who we imagine ourselves to be in the present and what we want to be, as a community, in the future.

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The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The South Needs to Commemorate Its Southern Unionists

The historical amnesia of the South regarding its black and white Union soldiers should be rectified. By choosing to selectively remember and honor Confederate soldiers while simultaneously ignoring the many Southerners who fought for the Union, Southerners send clear message that loyalty to region, protection of white supremacy, and veneration of the Confederacy are the only legacies of the Civil War worth remembering. If Confederate monuments continue to be torn down, new ones should go up, celebrating those Southerners--black and white--who remained loyal to the Union and brought about “a new birth of freedom.”

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"Come and Go with Us": Legacies of Union, Freedom, and Civil War at Yorktown

"Come and Go with Us": Legacies of Union, Freedom, and Civil War at Yorktown

Yet with their retreat, and the subsequent Union occupation of Yorktown for the rest of the war, the success of this siege had far more deep implications for the legacies of Yorktown and the Revolution.

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Reporting from USITT: Curating 101

Reporting from USITT: Curating 101

Even if you do not work for a big museum, there are opportunities to put together exhibits at colleges, libraries, local sites, or special events. These steps will vary depending of your specific exhibit, but hopefully this framework will help inspire more creative exhibits!

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Confederate Iconography, The Next Steps: On Shared Authority, Historical Stewardship, and the Role of the Public Historian

Confederate Iconography, The Next Steps: On Shared Authority, Historical Stewardship, and the Role of the Public Historian

As the debate over the purpose and future of Confederate monuments and iconography in public culture continues, discussions concerning the role of the public historian in these debates have similarly intensified.  Central to these debates has been the question of the proper role of the public historian in community-based, emotionally and politically charged discussions about historical memory and contemporary society...it is hardly inappropriate or overstepping for public historians to make suggestions to communities as to what to do with their public memorial landscapes, nor is it at all intrusive and imposing to try to help communities learn about the educational value of their historic monuments and memorials or about the complexities of historical memory.  Additionally, pointing out to communities who are in the midst of debates about the future of memorial landscapes all that is gained AND lost if such landscapes were to be destroyed or removed is hardly “historian-centric” or merely “historians doing historian things.”  Is this not the very nature of our jobs as public historians?

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