It’s mid-June and the spring 2013 issue of History News just arrived. If you’re wondering why it’s late, it’s my fault.
Katherine Kane and Bob Beatty invited me to write an article that would highlight this year’s annual meeting theme: “Turning Points: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Change.” I was honored—and challenged. Heroic stories of ordinary Americans changing history would be inspirational but too easy. So I focused on us —the ordinary people who work in history organizations—to explore how we can provoke extraordinary change in our communities and audiences. Nice idea, but it went through a dozen revisions that trampled deadlines in the process. I hope it’s worth the wait. I’ll be posting excerpts from it along with the entire article starting next week (have to give the AASLH members first opportunity!).
But if you don’t find my article satisfying, there are plenty of alternatives in this issue: Continue reading →
Historic cabins are continually updated at Colorado Chautauqua
One of the hiking trails at Colorado Chautauqua.
Having worked on historic preservation issues at the city, county, state, and national levels, I continually encounter requests for demolition because the building isn’t safe or no longer useful. The property owner or developer often assumes it’s the first time I’ve heard that the building is old fashioned, run-down, or an eyesore, or that it’s cheaper to build a new building than bring an old building up to code. Although it can be an uncomfortable conversation, it’s an opportunity to advocate for local history and community heritage. I’ll mention that the situation is often better than it seems and encourage them to get a professional opinion from a preservation architect and consider how tax credits can make a project feasible. But increasingly, I’ve encountered situations where the property owner has consulted with a professional who’s confirmed the opinion that the building needs to be demolished. Although the professionals may have borderline credibility, such as an architect who’s never worked with historic buildings or a salesperson for a window manufacturer, they frequently have the ability to convince commissioners and staff of the veracity of their opinions, alas. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth the struggle and frustrations.
Last week, I stayed at Colorado Chautauqua, a National Historic Landmark in Boulder, Colorado, and was reminded that preserving historic places is a battle worth fighting. If you’re not familiar with Continue reading →
For today’s break, a beautifully produced yet simple 3:44 video by Adam Worth about the historic African American cemeteries in New Jersey, many of which are abandoned and slowly disappearing into nature. It discusses their historical significance as well as current preservation challenges.
In honor of Historic Preservation month, the videos in May will feature related topics, starting with “The Royal Castle: From Destruction to Reconstruction” by Novina Studio. This 2:28 animation traces the destruction of this historical monument by the Nazis in World War II to its reconstruction in 1974. Simple and dramatic, it provides a quick history of the site.
Modern visitors encounter historic visitors in Annapolis, Maryland, a clever way to connect people to the past. In their visitor center on the waterfront, the Historic Annapolis Foundation installed a wall of life-size images of famous and popular celebrities who have visited Annapolis during the past two hundred years. The main label reads:
Who are these people, and why are they here?
You may recognize a few of them, or perhaps all of them.
Each of these people is famous for one reason or another, and each spent time in Annapolis. Some were here in the recent past, while others many years ago. Some passed through the city on a whirlwind tour, and some called Annapolis home.
But what does George Washington have in common with Sarah Jessica Parker? The Marquis de Lafayette with Mark Twain? Amelia Earhart with Michelle Obama?
Their common bond is that each of them could return to Annapolis today and recognize downtown because of Historic Annapolis. Thanks to historic preservation, Annapolitans Continue reading →
On April 18, I enjoyed a sneak peak of the restoration underway at Clara Barton’s Civil War-era office and warehouse on 7th Street in downtown Washington, DC–where she worked and lived before founding the American Red Cross in 1881. The historic site opens to the public as a museum in fall 2014.
From the street, you’d never imagine that this was a nationally significant historic site. It’s a simple three-story brick building surrounded by restaurants, towering condos and offices, popular museums, and a major sports arena. Indeed, it was overlooked by those who were searching for it because it didn’t fit their image of a warehouse. Its historical significance was forgotten for most of the century until 1997, when a nightwatchman hired to keep vagrants out of the vacant building noticed a document jutting out from the ceiling. It turned out to be part of a cache of artifacts belonging to Clara Barton that had been stored in the Continue reading →
ERS app provides the same reliable content found in the original Wheel. The app outlines critical stages of disaster response and provides practical salvage tips for nine types of collections, from photographs to natural history specimens. ERS can help users protect precious collections and significant records, access reliable information instantly, and save damaged objects.
This 38:00 freshly produced documentary follows the transformation of an historic clothing factory in Lebanon, NH into an art center. Directed by Ken Turino of Historic New England and produced in collaboration with AVA Gallery and Community Access Television of Upper Valley, it features interviews, oral histories, and historic images.
This video by Thirteen introduces Weeksville, an African American community founded in the 19th century in Brooklyn. Today, it is an historic site that interprets the history, re-discovery, and preservation of this special neighborhood as a “multidimensional museum”.
This 2:24 excerpt from a self-guided multimedia tour of the landscape integrates the history of the people who lived and worked at Drayton Hall, an early 18th century plantation in South Carolina. This multimedia tour was produced in collaboration with the History Channel.