Tag Archive

TPH 38.1

It’s not “just a musical”

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TPH_38_1_Covers low rez-1In the four months since my review of Hamilton: An American Musical was first published in The Public Historian, my ideas have been met with a wide variety of reactions.

This blog published four responses to the piece, including one by Annette Gordon-Reed, who wrote that my review was an expression of “our duty to use what we know of history and culture to comment” on artistic explorations of the past. Read More

Digital community engagement across the divides

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"A Conversation," by Khalid Albaih. Posted on Flikr, CC BY 2.0 license.

Image credit: A Conversation, Khalid Albaih

In 2008, the Journal of American History published a conversation among several historians regarding the future of digital history. William G. Thomas III  said, “We might imagine a more proximate collaboration in which historians team up with [community] groups.  Read More

Finding the intersection of technology and public history

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Photo credit: The Tire Zoo, on Flickr

Photo credit: The Tire Zoo

Digital technology has enabled public historians, cultural heritage professionals, and history students to collaborate with diverse audiences and explore history’s role in civic engagement in ways previously unimagined. The partnership between the Virtual City Project and the Restoration Group described by Andrew Hurley in “Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide” demonstrates the exciting possibilities as well as challenges advanced digital tools provide, especially in the face of limited budgets, long software development cycles, and varying levels of digital access. Read More

Hamilton: The Musical: Blacks and the founding fathers

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Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and the ensemble of Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Daveed Diggs as Thomas Jefferson and the ensemble of Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

This past August, I went with a group of historians to see the much acclaimed, and now Grammy-winning, musical, Hamilton. Our timing was just right. The ticket prices were reasonable (for the Great White Way), costing nowhere near the astronomical sums people pay now. Read More

Meeting our audiences where they are in the digital age

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Image from the 98 Acres in Albany digital project. By 1960, about 15 percent of Albany's South Mall take area’s 7,000 residents were African American. James C. Strawn was a janitor, musician, and barber who moved into the area soon after WW II. Mr. Strawn told a Knickerbocker News reporter that he hoped that “tearing down these 50- and 60-year-old buildings might make for some decent places in which to live.” Courtesy New York State Archives.

Image from the 98 Acres in Albany digital project.
By 1960, about 15 percent of the South Mall take area’s 7,000 residents were African American. James C. Strawn was a janitor, musician, and off-the-books barber who moved into the South Mall take area soon after World War II.

Read More

History and performance: Hamilton: An American Musical

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As Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, actress Phillipa Soo (left) dances alongside Schuyler’s sisters Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsberry, center) and Peggy ( Jasmine Cephas Jones, right). Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

As Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, actress Phillipa Soo (left) dances alongside Schuyler’s sisters Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsberry, center) and Peggy (Jasmine Cephas Jones, right). Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Public historians have spent a good deal of time looking at how history is performed in museums and living history sites, in reenactments, and on film and television. Read More

Audience analysis and the role of the digital in community engagement

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Map from the Bernal Heights Year of the Bay project on Historypin.

Map from the Bernal Heights Year of the Bay project on Historypin. Photo credit: Historypin

As a public historian working on the collaborative digital platform Historypin, I second Andrew Hurley’s assertion, in his article “Chasing the Frontiers of Digital Technology: Public History Meets the Digital Divide,” that introducing more traditional methods of engagement can, and most often is required to, enhance the efficacy of the digital tools within a public history project. Read More

A color-blind Stockholm syndrome

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"George Washington as Framer at Mount Vernon," 1851, part of a series on George Washington by Junius Brutus Stearns. Located at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

“George Washington as Farmer at Mount Vernon,” 1851, part of a series on George Washington by Junius Brutus Stearns. Located at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The American narrative, like any cultural narrative, consists of stories that structure and assign meaning to the nation’s origin, history, and existence. Read More

Who tells your story?

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President Obama greets the cast and crew of "Hamilton" after seeing the musical with his daughters, July 2105. Credit: Executive Office of the President of the United States.

President Obama greets the cast and crew of “Hamilton” after seeing the musical with his daughters, July 2015.  Photo credit: Executive Office of the President of the United States

Lyra Monteiro is certainly right, when she notes in her review of Hamilton: An American Musical, that mainstream American culture has a lamentable tendency to embrace and retell certain stories about American history, including that of the founders, with greater frequency and enthusiasm than the many other stories that require more difficult reckonings with the past. Read More