National Council on Public History Putting History to Work in the World 2016-07-26T18:09:40Z http://ncph.org/feed/atom/ WordPress Hillel Arnold and Laura Miller <![CDATA[Shared inquiry in the archives]]> http://ncph.org/?p=19425 2016-07-25T20:29:58Z 2016-07-26T12:30:58Z Archival boxes in the vaults of the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Photo credit: Rachel Wimpee.

Archival boxes in the vaults of the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Photo credit: Rachel Wimpee.

The staff of the Rockefeller Archive Center recently organized a reading group that meets once a month to discuss a set of readings related to archival and historical practice. Read More

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Archival boxes in the vaults of the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Photo credit: Rachel Wimpee.

Archival boxes in the vaults of the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Photo credit: Rachel Wimpee.

The staff of the Rockefeller Archive Center recently organized a reading group that meets once a month to discuss a set of readings related to archival and historical practice. The RAC is a repository of historical materials and a research center dedicated to the study of philanthropy and civil society. We have both a large archival staff (including reference, collections management, processing, digital programs, and donor relations teams) and a much smaller Research and Education department (comprised of five historians). The reading group provides an opportunity for the entire staff to come together to take a methodological look at the work that we do, building a shared understanding of each other’s expertise through critical reading and conversation.

In the April meeting of our reading group, the Research and Education department led a discussion about public history. The readings–Ronald Grele’s “Whose Public? Whose History? What is the Goal of a Public Historian?” (1981), Katharine T. Corbett and Howard S. Miller’s  “A Shared Inquiry into Shared Inquiry” (2006), and Robert Weible’s “Defining Public History: Is It Possible?  Is It Necessary?” (2008)–prompted a lively and very productive discussion about common threads in the development of the archival and public history professions, shared challenges about the value of our labor, and shared questions about power and social justice in our work. In short, it raised fruitful lines of inquiry about the intersection of public history and archival practice.

During our discussion, several themes emerged which highlighted shared professional concerns of archivists and public historians. Participants noted that the development of public history as a discipline paralleled a growing interest in outreach and engagement in archival practice. This is particularly true in the area of archival acquisitions; archivists, taking their cue from public historians, endeavor to collect more collaboratively, contemporaneously, and with an eye to underlying questions of societal power and representation in established historical narratives. These professional trends appear to have a common ancestor in the practice of oral history, and perhaps a common descendant in community-oriented history projects, including community archives.

Partly as a result of this focus on “shared authority” and engagement, we noted that archivists and public historians both have to negotiate the tension between surrendering control over processes while also maintaining a professional identity. We’re all looking, it seems, for that crucial expertise or special intangible that our profession brings to the world as a way of valuing our labor, while also actively trying to value other sets of expertise and labor that work toward the same ends.

Ultimately, our conversation raised more questions than it answered. Are public historians by definition archivists, or, conversely, are archivists public historians? What lessons can we learn from each other about ways to see, in Corbett and Miller’s words, “who has legitimate power, who is willing to share it, and under what conditions”? Does our common sensitivity to power and its uneven distribution across society provide some possible common points of leverage for both archivists and public historians? Can a shared inquiry, across professions, of the ways in which we share authority help us both to focus and refine our respective identities?

While we don’t have all the answers, the reading group offered a space for RAC staff to engage across professional boundaries and better understand both our own work and the work of our colleagues. Despite our many shared interests and concerns, public historians and archivists are often siloed into distinct camps in both our professional organizations and in our workplaces, which often prevents greater collaboration and dialogue (a point lamented in the 2014 joint Twitter chat between the NCPH New Professional and Graduate Student Committee and the SAA Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable). This siloing is also evident at the RAC: the archival staff works to preserve, process, and make our collections accessible to our researchers, while the Research and Education department focuses on communicating the history of philanthropy to our donor institutions, student groups, and the public. Setting aside an hour a month to focus on the why and the how of our roles has helped us to build common ground. A methodologically focused discussion has reinforced the notion that we all have expertise but also have something to learn, and has helped to build appreciation of one another as colleagues and allied professionals.

~ Hillel Arnold is the head of Digital Programs at the Rockefeller Archive Center, where he leads a team that provides technical leadership and expertise to the organization. He holds an MA in history from New York University and an MLIS from Long Island University’s Palmer School.

~ Laura Miller is a historian at the Rockefeller Archive Center. She received her Ph.D. in twentieth-century American history and M.A. in public history from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Vera Parham <![CDATA[Archives, technology, and the global outlook of public history]]> http://ncph.org/?p=18907 2016-07-20T15:59:09Z 2016-07-21T12:30:51Z Ruuins of Ebla, a city in Syria, where one of the first archives of clay tablets was found, dating back to the third millennium BCE. Image courtesy Mappo.

Ruins of Ebla, a city in Syria, where one of the first archives of clay tablets was found, dating back to the third millennium BCE. Photo credit: Mappo

As most of us in the field of archival studies know, defining the archival profession is like trying to hit a moving target. Read More

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Ruuins of Ebla, a city in Syria, where one of the first archives of clay tablets was found, dating back to the third millennium BCE. Image courtesy Mappo.

Ruins of Ebla, a city in Syria, where one of the first archives of clay tablets was found, dating back to the third millennium BCE. Photo credit: Mappo

As most of us in the field of archival studies know, defining the archival profession is like trying to hit a moving target. The form and meaning of the profession have changed steadily and dramatically, as have the challenges and educational preparation. As technology has advanced the field, the work of archivists, as well as their training, has taken on a more technical turn. Yet while mastery of the new technology is very important, keeping a focus on the philosophical underpinning of archiving should not be overlooked.

There are many reasons archival education programs and the profession have become increasingly complex, such as the natural result of the introduction of technology, changes in how professionals identify themselves, and an increase in documents and collections. The growth of archives represents a fundamental shift in the economy. Paper archives were created thanks to the development of cheap production methods. The growth in paper prompted a need to find a way to preserve those artifacts in archives. As archivist Brien Brothman reminds us, by the time the Society of American Archivists was founded in 1936, this growth in documents and archives “was becoming unmanageable.”[1]

Shelves of archival materials. Photo credit: Archivo-FSP

Since 1936, our production of documentation has only increased. We create and consume and share more data than ever before, which means more and more archives and archivists. From 1936 to the present, though, the job description has remained the same: to house and protect items of historical significance and direct individuals to those items. The way we share and transmit those items may undergo revolution after revolution, but the fundamental use and purpose of this preservation will not.  After all, we are simply finding new ways of creating useful documents. A document is not just a document, however, but is also a cultural artifact with multiple meanings in it. Cultures and nations use records to prove their past, their present and even their right to exist. So a lack of records, sloppy record keeping, or lack of access affects us much more than we can imagine!

New technologies have changed our access to information, as well as how we research and write. With the advent of computers and, even more importantly, the Internet, new worlds of access began to open up for both researchers and archivists. These new worlds represented both opportunities and challenges. Databases were created that could search through thousands and thousands of records in seconds. Digital catalogs could be created to provide information on collections. Eventually, digitization advanced to the point where documents could be scanned or photographed and stored, with associated metadata to enhance search capabilities.

Banner for the Society of American Archivists' 2014 conference.

Web banner for the Society of American Archivists’ 2014 annual meeting.

The challenges for the archivists grow in direct proportion to the development of technology. No longer is it enough to simply know how to appraise, arrange, and describe collections. They must also master the technology to make this information available to people around the globe.

Archivists control access to the preservation and dissemination of records–or the destruction of our collective past.  This means that archivists need to have not only a firm moral compass, but a strong foundation in history and historiography. While not all archivists are historians, all archivists must have an understanding of history and the changing nature of artifacts, sources, documents and historical interpretation.

Our world today is expanding at a rapid rate. Technology allows us to know what is happening in the blink of an eye. History is a fluid process and our understanding of the past is individual and constantly changing. The study and function of archives illustrate these constant changes in perspective. That is why studying and understanding what we decide to protect as important, and what we decide to throw away, is key. A background in history will make for better decisions in accessioning collections. To accomplish this, we must advocate for more cross-disciplinary awareness and for archivists to have a strong background and training in history, not just the library sciences.

[1] Brien Brothman, “The Society of American Archivists at Seventy-Five: Contexts of Continuity and Crisis, A Personal Reflection,” The American Archivist 74, Fall/Winter (2011): 387-427.

 

~Vera Parham is an associate professor of public history at American Military University. Her work focuses on Native American history as well as the need for cultural awareness and sensitivity in archives and collections.

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Cathy Stanton <![CDATA[Does the National Park Service have a culture problem?]]> http://ncph.org/?p=19470 2016-07-18T22:42:42Z 2016-07-19T12:30:23Z Rafting concessions on the Colorado (above) and other rivers have been at issue in some allegations of unethical behavior within the National Park Service in recent years Photo credit: Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

Rafting concessions on the Colorado (above) and other rivers have been at issue in some allegations of unethical behavior within the National Park Service in recent years Photo credit: Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

When I studied public historians within a large U.S. Read More

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Rafting concessions on the Colorado (above) and other rivers have been at issue in some allegations of unethical behavior within the National Park Service in recent years Photo credit: Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

Rafting concessions on the Colorado (above) and other rivers have been at issue in some allegations of unethical behavior within the National Park Service in recent years Photo credit: Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

When I studied public historians within a large U.S. national park for my dissertation research 12 years ago, I was left with some questions that I’ve been pondering ever since and that have kept coming to the surface in various ways in more recent years. One of those–tricky to research but clearly important in understanding how the National Park Service functions–is the particular culture of the agency and how that shapes the NPS as both a workplace and an interpreter of the nation’s past.

I’m an anthropologist by training, so throwing around the term “culture” as we now do (“a culture of innovation” or “a culture of accountability”) always makes me want to say, “Wait–not every patterned human behavior is a ‘culture’!” But I do think it’s fair to say that the NPS has the kind of organizational culture that old-time anthropologists would have termed “tribal”: close-knit, protective of its boundaries, maintained in a fairly stable form over many generations. Given the Park Service’s roots in land management, its place within a federal government that has historically reflected the unequal racial power balance of the rest of the country, and its quasi-military structure, the culture that has been reproduced over time has tended to be white, male-dominated, and hierarchical.

Like other federal agencies and cultural institutions, the Park Service has grappled with this legacy in recent decades. Much has changed, but much also remains entrenched and troubling. Twelve years ago, it seemed to me that the very bureaucratic and insular nature of the NPS itself had something to do with what I saw as a reluctance to come to grips with vexed questions in the present, especially those involving the Park Service itself. I saw a tendency to muffle the possibility of dissent, leading to a good deal of self-censorship by those with a lasting stake in the agency.

Mobility among upper-level managers also played a role. Climbing the NPS career ladder requires moving around geographically, and key decision-makers at parks often seemed deeply invested in cultivating networks among the relatively small pool of administrators at regional and national levels. (Speaking about the long-lasting effects of those networks of influence, several NPS employees told me, “This is a small agency with a very long memory.”) Add to that a truly mind-numbing amount of paperwork plus decades of deep funding cuts, and it’s no wonder the agency as a whole has seemed to have a hard time with serious self-reflection.

This is true of many–perhaps all–large institutions and bureaucracies, of course. But over the past few years, a troubling record of ethical controversies suggests that the culture of this particular federal agency may warrant more public attention and rethinking.

One recent case involves current NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis, who authored a centennial book about the Park Service without following the official clearance process. Supporters argue that this is a relatively minor ethical lapse (Jarvis wrote the book on his own time and is donating all royalties to the National Park Foundation). But critics point out a longer pattern of questionable decisions. Some have seen a conflict of interest in Jarvis’s oversight at western parks where his brother has been a paid lobbyist for commercial rafting companies that do business with the parks. In particular, Jarvis’s approval of the promotion of a Grand Canyon superintendent despite questions over the man’s 2002 well-above-market-value sale of his house to one of these concessionaires added fuel to the controversy.

Canaveral National Seashore has seen four ethics investigations since 2012 over allegations of sexual harassment. Photo credit: Todd Van Hoosear.

Canaveral National Seashore has seen four ethics investigations since 2012 over allegations of sexual harassment. Photo credit: Todd Van Hoosear.

At the heart of the issue is that tight-knit, cohesive, intensely loyal network of mostly-white, mostly-male executives and the “circle the wagons” response to external threats. Whistle-blowers and journalists have noted the gendered dimension of this aspect of the Park Service’s legacy (for example, in sexual harassment incidents at the Grand Canyon, as reported extensively by Huffington Post and Washington Post, similar claims at Canaveral National Seashore, or the case of a superintendent who was moved to a post in Washington–essentially promoted–after he was discovered to have thousands of pornographic images on his office computer). Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently referred to such reported cases as very likely “just the tip of the iceberg.”

Claims of retaliation–often backed up by courts and Inspector Generals’ reports–have also been troublingly widespread. At the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, a controversy over the park allowing tree-cutting by a wealthy neighbor resulted in a whistleblowing ranger’s dismissal (he later won his case and self-published a book about the experience). Those who do come forward (for example, a pair of seasonal rangers who were not rehired after reporting on a conflict of interest in a superintendent’s business dealings or a park biologist who reported on contracting violations, or even a law enforcement chief who was fired for talking to the press about the impact of budget cuts on her department’s work) are reportedly greatly outnumbered by people who are too intimidated to speak out.

Not surprisingly, staff morale has suffered in this climate. According to a survey conducted last year, the Park Service has fallen to the bottom quarter of all federal agencies in employee satisfaction, a stark contrast to the public’s still-favorable view. Public perception of the NPS as the “good guys” may ironically be one reason that news reporting on the problems hasn’t seemed to gain traction. And more collegial critiques of the Park Service, like my own dissertation or the 2011 Organization of American Historians report “Imperiled Promise: The State of History in the National Park Service,” have tended to stop short of asking the really hard questions about how institutional culture may be getting in the way of the good work that so many historians and others within the agency truly want to do.

But saying nothing carries its own risks. What would make it possible to have a more open discussion of how these problems may affect the ability of people within the NPS to do their jobs ethically and well? I don’t have answers to that question any more than I did 12 years ago, but its persistence makes me think it’s worth opening the topic again here.

~ Cathy Stanton is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Tufts University and an active public historian. She serves as Digital Media Editor for the National Council on Public History; this post reflects only her own experiences and views and does not represent the organization in any way.

For further reading (many of these sources are also linked in the post above):

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editors <![CDATA[Around the field July 18, 2016]]> http://ncph.org/?p=19566 2016-07-18T22:38:28Z 2016-07-18T22:37:53Z newspaper-in-fieldFrom around the field this week: Conferences on war/peace transitions, Guatemalan genocide and resistance, migration heritage, more; residency funding for digital stewardship work; post-disaster collections salvage course; one-day workshop for teachers at historic site in Virginia.

CONFERENCES and CALLS

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newspaper-in-fieldFrom around the field this week: Conferences on war/peace transitions, Guatemalan genocide and resistance, migration heritage, more; residency funding for digital stewardship work; post-disaster collections salvage course; one-day workshop for teachers at historic site in Virginia.

CONFERENCES and CALLS

FUNDING and AWARDS

  • National Digital Stewardship Residency – five one-year, full-time, paid residencies to develop, apply, and advance digital stewardship knowledge and skills in real-world settings (DEADLINE: July 20, 2016)

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

To submit an item to this weekly listing, email us at historyatwork[at]ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

 

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David Rotenstein <![CDATA[Farm Road: Rural gentrification and the erasure of history]]> http://ncph.org/?p=19354 2016-07-13T12:51:03Z 2016-07-13T12:30:25Z Farm Road, May 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

Farm Road, May 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

In its infancy, gentrification was a word used to describe changes in urban neighborhoods. Now, gentrification has been documented in suburbs and rural areas around the world. It is even sweeping through Washington, DC’s suburban counties, where farmlands are being converted into housing and mixed-use developments. Read More

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Farm Road, May 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

Farm Road, May 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

In its infancy, gentrification was a word used to describe changes in urban neighborhoods. Now, gentrification has been documented in suburbs and rural areas around the world. It is even sweeping through Washington, DC’s suburban counties, where farmlands are being converted into housing and mixed-use developments. The “Farm Road” case in Maryland’s Montgomery County is a troubling example of rural gentrification and historical erasure.

Montgomery County is an affluent Washington suburb with about a million residents. Its southern portion reflects proximity to the District of Columbia: densely developed residential suburbs and commercial sprawl. The upcounty area includes a substantial agricultural reserve and many large former farms ripe for development as demands for housing increase. This demand has created a substantial gap in the low value of the property as agricultural versus a potential greater value if it were to be developed. This “rent gap” is the economic engine underlying gentrification.

Dellabrooke subdivision. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

Dellabrooke subdivision. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

The Farm Road case involves a historically African American community created by freed slaves who bought land and cultivated farms near Sandy Spring, about 30 miles north of the U.S. Capitol. In the early 1990s a developer began subdividing properties between two county roads, Brooke Road on the south and Gold Mine Road on the north. Cutting through the eastern portion of these tracts was a roadway connecting the African American farms. The developer then constructed large new homes in the lots in a residential subdivision called “Dellabrooke.”

The developer’s plats failed to show the rough right-of-way that had been illustrated in real estate atlases and topographical maps published since the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Deeds recorded in county land records contain plats that show the road and the “Farm Road” name is memorialized in the metes and bounds describing the tracts where it forms a boundary.

Rural Gentrification and Erasure

Since the word “gentrification” was coined in the early 1960s it has taken on meanings beyond what British geographer Ruth Glass originally intended: the replacement of working-class housing and people by more expensive housing and middle-class newcomers. Today, there’s “commercial gentrification,” “student gentrification,” “industrial gentrification,” and many others. Each denotes the conversion of space and the displacement of people in response to local economic conditions and facilitated by public policies like zoning.

Rural gentrification involves the transformation of former agricultural areas and other greenfields into new developments and the “subsequent displacement of working-class rural residents as a result of rising local land and housing process,” wrote geographer Eliza Darling in 2005. Local government’s changing zoning laws and land use classifications to encourage development and the production of new housing oftentimes facilitate it.

Erasure is a metaphor historians and anthropologists use to describe the replacement of one historical narrative by another. Like gentrification, erasure involves displacement. It is a complicated process that combines “forgetting” with historical revisionism to privilege a particular group promoting the new narrative. There are few cases where the act of erasing is visible and is a key part of the erasure or displacement. Farm Road is one.

The Farm Road, Contesting Erasure

“Farm Road” isn’t an official name for the narrow rutted route; rather, it’s a vernacular place name that evolved from local usage and it was a way for surveyors to label a landscape feature in maps. The 10-foot-wide road was an artifact that developed over more than a century of agricultural land use. In legal terms, it was an easement: property belonging to a third party that others have a right to use.

Historic maps illustrating the Farm Road corridor (blue arrows mark termini). The map on the left is from the 1908 U.S.G.S. Rockville quadrangle and the map on the right is from the 1916 Real Estate Atlas of the Part of Montgomery County Adjacent to the District of Columbia. Image credit: Public domain.

Historic maps illustrating the Farm Road corridor (blue arrows mark termini). The map on the left is from the 1908 USGS Rockville, Maryland quadrangle and the map on the right is from the “1916 Real Estate Atlas of the Part of Montgomery County Adjacent to the District of Columbia.” Image credit: Public domain.

 

Because “Farm Road” had never been a dedicated public right-of-way and no legal easement instruments had ever been filed, Farm Road didn’t legally “exist.” When residents of the new Dellabrooke subdivision blocked access to Farm Road by placing a chain across the road, longtime residents in the parcels lining Farm Road filed complaints with county agencies.

Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission “Address Book.” Addresses crossed out in the right portion of the map are along the “Farm Road.”

Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission “Address Book.” Addresses crossed out in the right portion of the map are along the “Farm Road.” Photo credit: David Rotenstein

When residents and local activists reviewed the Montgomery County Planning Department’s master “address book”–large bound survey plats where street addresses are recorded–they found that the addresses denoting their properties had been crossed out with red Xs. According to county officials, not only didn’t the Farm Road exist, but neither did the residents’ addresses since they didn’t front on a legal road. This meant that property sales, future subdivisions, and other transactions would be complicated because in the eyes of county regulators, the properties didn’t exist.

Finding no relief from Montgomery County officials, residents then began what has become nearly two decades of litigation. They filed lawsuits in federal and Maryland state courts “seeking millions of dollars and alleging fraud, deceit, conspiracy, race-based discrimination and violation of their right to due process,” a local newspaper reported in 2008.

The Farm Road case exposed systemic procedural problems in the county’s planning department. New rules were created for reviewing and approving new subdivision plats. The case was one of several that emerged between 2001 and 2010 in which planners had approved development plans that did not appear to conform to state and county law. Investigations were undertaken and the fallout included the resignation of the planning board chairman and an agency restructuring.

As Montgomery County was addressing the fallout from deficiencies in its planning department, Farm Road residents were litigating their case in the courts. The federal case was dismissed because the court found that the complainants had failed to “exhaust state remedies.”

After being rebuffed in federal court, the residents brought their case to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.  A county judge dismissed the case in 2011 and they appealed to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and finally to Maryland’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals [PDF].  According to the complaint reviewed by the courts, “Petitioners in this case allege that [county officials] were involved with [the developers] in a scheme to erase Farm Road.” The state’s highest court ruled in January 2015 that the Farm Road residents’ complaint would not survive a motion to dismiss by the defendants and the case was closed.

The Farm Road case offers historians a unique window into the intersection of gentrification and the production and erasure of history. Over the past century, much of rural Montgomery County has been transformed into middle-class and elite suburbs for the nation’s capital. The process of producing space for progressively more affluent users has changed the county’s physical landscape, displaced residents, and, as far as Farm Road is concerned, resulted in the violent erasure of a cultural landscape and its traditional use.

~ David Rotenstein is a consulting historian based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He researches and writes on historic preservation, industrial history, and gentrification.

 

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editors <![CDATA[Project Showcase: Forty Blocks: The East Garfield Park Oral History Project]]> http://ncph.org/?p=18761 2016-07-10T18:11:48Z 2016-07-11T12:30:14Z Film Crew photo

Breakthrough’s Film Crew students and adult mentors, along with staff from the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History. Photo Credit: Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum (CHM) and Breakthrough, a community-based organization that provides social services on Chicago’s West Side, have launched Forty Blocks: The East Garfield Park Oral History Project. Read More

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Film Crew photo

Breakthrough’s Film Crew students and adult mentors, along with staff from the Studs Terkel Center for Oral History. Photo Credit: Chicago History Museum

The Chicago History Museum (CHM) and Breakthrough, a community-based organization that provides social services on Chicago’s West Side, have launched Forty Blocks: The East Garfield Park Oral History Project. Focused on the 1970s to the present, this collaborative effort examines daily life in East Garfield Park, an African American neighborhood that has been marginalized in contemporary Chicago and neglected in the recent historical record.

Forty Blocks first took life when staff at CHM’s Studs Terkel Center for Oral History noticed that post-1968 documentary material on East Garfield Park was very sparse. Following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April of that year, large portions of the neighborhood were levelled during spontaneous demonstrations of anger. When the unrest ended, so did the outside world’s interest in East Garfield Park.

In late 2015, the oral history center linked up with Breakthrough’s Film Crew, a group of middle- and high school students learning documentary filmmaking techniques. In February and March of this year, project staff held a series of training sessions with the Film Crew. Students learned about East Garfield Park’s history by studying documents from CHM’s archives, touring parts of the West Side, and conducting practice interviews. In their oral history training, the Film Crew learned interview techniques, how to explain the project and its goals, and active listening skills.

Months of planning led up to March 26, when the oral history center staff, the Film Crew, interns, and other volunteers interviewed twenty-three narrators over the course of six hours. The conversations centered on what it was like to live in East Garfield Park, what made the community unique, and the hopes, dreams, and concerns residents had for the future of the neighborhood.

On July 12, 2016, the Film Crew’s documentary about East Garfield Park’s history will premiere in CHM’s Robert R. McCormick Theater. Later this year, full transcriptions and audio of these interviews will be accessible on the museum’s website. Nearly every week you can find updates, including oral history excerpts, on Forty Blocks’ Kickstarter.

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Cathy Stanton <![CDATA[Around the field July 5, 2016]]> http://ncph.org/?p=19282 2016-07-06T00:18:44Z 2016-07-06T00:18:12Z newspaper-in-fieldFrom around the field this week: Preserving audiovisual heritage and supporting public humanities projects at the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities; online and f2f workshops on collection ethics, oral history, and domestic furnishings; conference in Warsaw on museums, publics, and contested histories

 CONFERENCES and CALLS

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newspaper-in-fieldFrom around the field this week: Preserving audiovisual heritage and supporting public humanities projects at the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities; online and f2f workshops on collection ethics, oral history, and domestic furnishings; conference in Warsaw on museums, publics, and contested histories

 CONFERENCES and CALLS

FUNDING and AWARDS

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

PUBLICATIONS

To submit an item to this weekly listing, email us at historyatwork[at]ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

 

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editors <![CDATA[Around the field June 21, 2016]]> http://ncph.org/?p=19104 2016-06-22T00:10:27Z 2016-06-22T00:10:02Z newspaper-in-fieldFrom around the field this week: Summer unconference on teaching with primary sources; new short-term travel awards to National Museum of American History for research on disability, gender/sexuality/LGBTQ, race; help with crowd-funding for cultural institutions.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CONFERENCES and CALLS

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newspaper-in-fieldFrom around the field this week: Summer unconference on teaching with primary sources; new short-term travel awards to National Museum of American History for research on disability, gender/sexuality/LGBTQ, race; help with crowd-funding for cultural institutions.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CONFERENCES and CALLS

FUNDING and AWARDS

  • Travel Research in Equity Collections (TREC) program – New 10-day travel award to use National Museum of American History’s collections related to disability, gender/sexuality/LGBTQ, race (DEADLINE: July 15, 2016)
  • Society of Architectural Historians is accepting nominations for its 2017 Publication Awards (DEADLINE: Aug. 1, 2016)
  • “Crowdfunding for Preservation”: Northeast Document Conservation Center announces new initiative to help cultural institutions with fundraising for conservation, digitization, and audio preservation projects
  • National Humanities Center invites applications for academic-year or one-semester residencies in North Carolina (DEADLINE: Oct. 18, 2016)

To submit an item to this weekly listing, email us at historyatwork[at]ncph.org. Please make sure to include a URL where readers can find more information about your posting.

 

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Meghan Hillman <![CDATA[2017 NCPH Annual Meeting topic proposals]]> http://ncph.org?p=19008&preview_id=19008 2016-06-19T23:52:52Z 2016-06-20T12:30:00Z What better way to illustrate the idea of the "middle" than the classic Oreo sandwich cookie? Image courtesy Kelly Bailey via Wikimedia Commons

What better way to illustrate the idea of the “middle” than the classic Oreo sandwich cookie? Photo credit: Kelly Bailey

It’s that time again! Summer at the National Council on Public History means that the Program Committee has started the process of selecting content for our 2017 annual meeting. Read More

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What better way to illustrate the idea of the "middle" than the classic Oreo sandwich cookie? Image courtesy Kelly Bailey via Wikimedia Commons

What better way to illustrate the idea of the “middle” than the classic Oreo sandwich cookie? Photo credit: Kelly Bailey

It’s that time again! Summer at the National Council on Public History means that the Program Committee has started the process of selecting content for our 2017 annual meeting. Two months ago we opened up our Call for Proposals for next year’s meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the theme “The Middle: Where did we come from? Where are we going?”

This year, for the third year running, NCPH offered an optional early topic proposal deadline. Those who chose to submit a topic proposal by June 1 can now look forward to getting feedback from the NCPH community before the final proposal deadline on July 15. In the last couple of years we’ve found that the topic proposal deadline has helped connect people who are interested in similar ideas and themes early in the process, while there’s enough time to collaborate and make changes.

As NCPH’s numbers have grown, spots on the program have become increasingly competitive. Last year’s Joint NCPH/SHFG Program Committee accepted about 50% of the nearly 200 final proposals we received. By comparison, we received 40 early topic proposals. 70% of the 24 that were resubmitted as final proposals in July were accepted, and several others joined another successful proposal. While correlation does not necessarily equal causation, we like to think this means the topic proposal option is doing its job!

This year the Program Committee is hoping to hear from new voices and to see the conference theme, “The Middle,” explored from innovative angles. While the committee will continue to accept individual paper submissions, we hope that presenters will be encouraged instead to pursue exciting collaborations and consider more engaging formats. The topic proposal is an extra step that helps like-minded people join forces and submit strong, cohesive final proposals that reflect a diversity of experiences and perspectives. We think that is especially important in a field like public history.

I didn’t submit a topic proposal – what’s this got to do with me?

The topic proposal process works best if you, the NCPH community, tell topic proposal submitters what you want to see next year in Indianapolis. This is a great way to help shape the Program from its earliest stages. Visit the Topic Proposal page  to view the 33 topic proposals we received this year (you can click on “View Proposals” in the left-hand sidebar to open the full list). You’ll see that each proposal includes a working title, abstract, description of the kind of assistance the proposer is looking for, and the proposer’s contact information. Proposals are tagged with related key words to help you find the ones that are most relevant to your interests and expertise.

If you have a direct offer of assistance, sensitive criticism, or wish to share contact information for other people the proposer might reach out to, please contact the proposer directly via email. If you have general ideas or feedback to share, leave a comment at the end of the individual proposal’s page. We ask that you submit your feedback by Sunday, July 3.

After receiving feedback, the original proposer can choose to flesh out the proposal and submit the completed version using the full session or workshop proposal form online by July 15. All full proposals will be reviewed by the NCPH Program Committee, and proposers will be notified by September 15 if they have been accepted onto the Program for Indianapolis.

Advice for commenters and proposers

As you explore the topic proposals, you’ll see that proposers are interested in a wide variety of topics—from historic preservation in the Midwest and oral history as a form of service-learning to building more inclusive public history graduate programs. The proposers represent the range of people engaged in public history, including practitioners, students, and faculty, including many who are new to the field or to our conference.

Commenters and proposers should keep the following in mind:

  • Try to respond to what the proposers are looking for. Some are looking for help focusing their topics while others are looking for advice or co-presenters.
  • We hope that proposers and commenters will think about the best way to convey information and provoke engagement. Keep in mind NCPH’s advice to conference presenters to avoid “panels of talking heads and over-reliance on PowerPoint presentations.”
  • We are looking for sessions that raise new questions, highlight problematic issues, place projects in a larger context, and–as our 2017 theme, “The Middle: Where did we come from? Where are we going?” suggests–take stock of the field. Try to avoid the “show and tell” approach and don’t be afraid to discuss the implications of your work (success and failures) for public history.
  • Remember that the Program Committee ultimately will only be able to accept a limited number of sessions, so collaboration is the key to get as much diversity in the program as possible.

Peter Liebhold, 2017 Annual Meeting Co-Chair
John Sprinkle, 2017 Annual Meeting Co-Chair
Meghan Hillman, NCPH Program Assistant

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editors <![CDATA[Ask a consulting historian: Lynn Kronzek]]> http://ncph.org/?p=18883 2016-06-16T19:36:47Z 2016-06-17T12:30:12Z Lynn Kronzek. Photo credit: Lynn Kronzek

Lynn Kronzek. Photo credit: Lynn Kronzek

Lynn C. Kronzek is a public historian and writer with over 30 years of executive experience directing her consulting practice, as well as successful nonprofit agencies and programs.  She is an award-winning author of two books and numerous articles and reports, and for seven years she also taught graduate courses in regional development and community relations. Read More

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Lynn Kronzek. Photo credit: Lynn Kronzek

Lynn Kronzek. Photo credit: Lynn Kronzek

Lynn C. Kronzek is a public historian and writer with over 30 years of executive experience directing her consulting practice, as well as successful nonprofit agencies and programs.  She is an award-winning author of two books and numerous articles and reports, and for seven years she also taught graduate courses in regional development and community relations.

Describe how you first become interested in history, your education and training.

History was my favorite subject since I knew how to spell the word, and it still consumes my after-hours “recreational” reading time. I’m a history nerd with a capital “HN”! My post-secondary education occurred from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s, with time off for exploration.

It was a transitional period in so many ways, all of which affected my career choices. The NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) became law during 1970, but had not yet made its way into the academy when I started as a freshman, several years later, at the University of Michigan. The only definite career path a history major could pursue was teaching, beginning with some education credits all the way to a PhD. Though I loved history, Ann Arbor also perpetuated the activist spirit of the 1960s. I could always return for a PhD–once I mellowed, perhaps in twenty years, I reasoned.

Enormous economic changes wracked the industrial eastern and midwestern U.S. I definitely was concerned about the job market, so I double-majored in history and journalism. I loved to write and correctly figured that journalism would add some solid skills to my portfolio and provide a less crowded, more “exotic” vehicle for history. It was perhaps my most sensible career decision.

After graduation, I joined VISTA (yesterday’s Americorps) where I was the PR person for a nonprofit consortium. I came to appreciate the sector’s commitment and earnestness, but realized that professional management skills sometimes lagged. Public Administration was the closest academic discipline, and I received a fellowship from George Washington University, allowing me to obtain a MPA (Master of Public Administration) degree. I’ve always been a woman in the crossroads of disparate fields! Public administration, public history.

When did you start consulting?

I left an associate-level nonprofit director’s job more than twenty-five years ago, with the employer as my inaugural client. At the same time, I began work on my first book, another contractual commitment. If you’re self-directed–and enjoy playing both the infield and outfield simultaneously–being an independent consultant may be your calling.

Do you specialize in a particular field of public history?

Both of my parents came to the U.S. with their families as child immigrants. Ethnic and immigrant history are my specialties, though I’m equally steeped in Los Angeles and its neighborhoods.

Describe an average day at work.

There is absolutely no average day! I can be out in the field researching or meeting with different client organizations, following-up on projects from my desk via email or by phone, writing or coordinating the submission of grant proposals, polishing an article or report.

Describe your typical clients.  

I’ve now engaged in virtually every type of public history project, from environmental/cultural resources studies to books, articles, exhibits/displays, and expert witness testimony. There is a hierarchy to these operations. Government agencies or large nonprofits initially realize the need for a project or program, and large “prime” contractors may oversee them. Technical practitioners–archaeologists, architects/historic preservationists, publishers, and others–reach out to me or my firm when they’re looking for substantive expertise. But remember the public administration component? The larger part of my consulting practice continues to be development: working with nonprofit and government organizations to create innovative public programs and secure the funding necessary for their implementation, sustainability, and growth. In this capacity, I deal with chief executive officers, comptrollers, and program staff. My management and historical consultation don’t intersect.

How do you handle the business aspects of your consulting work? For example, billing, taxes, insurance.

I’m a consultant in private practice, also known as an independent contractor. Many of my expenses, certainly liability and auto insurance, are deducted from my income. The same holds true for any subcontractors/partners I hire. During annual visits with our accountant, I estimate what my net income (after such expenses) will be and, accordingly, determine quarterly tax payments. If I over- or under-estimate, I can compensate during the next quarter. I bill monthly because it’s easier when you have an established client base, though a twice-monthly schedule assures better cash flow (especially helpful for new businesses).

How do you seek new work? 

Sometimes it’s serendipity. I think you just need to be active on all fronts, doing what you love. For example, I discovered on a tour of Jewish Los Angeles that the sponsoring historical society accepted book proposals. We were relatively new to L.A. and had just moved from its longest surviving Jewish community into our beloved “condo by the sea.”  I submitted a proposal to write about the “old” neighborhood. The ensuing book did far better than any of us expected. An archaeologist read about it in the Los Angeles Times and asked me if I would work with her on a cultural resources impact mitigation report for the Chinatown section of Metro Rail. We collaborated periodically for the better part of about fifteen years and are still friends.

Experiences morph into new projects and relationships. The problem lately has become that my practice is small yet so diversified that it’s difficult to develop a focused marketing plan.

Describe some of the projects you’ve recently worked on.

A few months ago, I wrote an article for an EBSCO database on history. Although it was a relatively short piece, I felt privileged, and quite humbled. I also recently completed my first assignment as a curator. A multimillion-dollar renovation to a historic landmark stirred the realization that the site exhibit was more than twenty-five years old; the organization had likewise grown, new leadership emerged, local demographics changed. I was engaged for that project by a museum fabrication and design firm. The chance to grow professionally, through varied assignments, continues to excite and inspire me!

~ This post is part of our “Ask a Consulting Historian” series, brought to you by the NCPH Consultants Committee. Follow the Consultants Committee on Twitter at @NCPHconsultants. You can find more “Ask a Practitioner” posts here.

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