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Home Before The Leaves Fall

“Home Before the Leaves Fall: The Great War 1914-1918,” a collaborative commemoration of World War I by heritage and educational institutions through the City of Philadelphia, kicked off at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania on June 26. Peter John Williams, author of a pictorial history, Philadelphia The War Years delivered a talk that highlighted Philadelphia’s importance as the third largest city in the United States at the start of World War I and as a manufacturing powerhouse known as the “workshop of the world.” Nearly 60, 000 Philadelphia men and 2,000 Philadelphia women served in World War I and thousands more worked in factories and shipyards supporting the war effort. A large naval yard, munitions manufacturing, and an aviation training facility transformed Philadelphia during the years of the Great War into fully mobilized war time economy more commonly associated with the World War II home front.

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The Guns of August and The Dogs of War: Remembering and Forgetting America’s Great War

At the time no one knew to call it World War One. In the mid-1910s it was widely termed the ‘Great War’ and later the ‘War To End All Wars,’ an especially ironic name given the role contemporary historians have argued WWI played in precipitating WWII. In fact the History Channel recently aired a three-part series treating the period from the mid-1910s through the mid-1940s as single era of warfare. This way of remembering World War I, as but a small part of a larger history, is common throughout the United States, although in sharp contrast to much of the rest of the English-speaking world.

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Searching for a usable past in the Hudson Valley

I passed a wonderful late June week traveling the Hudson River Valley from the Vanderbilt estate in Hyde Park, New York, south along alternating banks of the Hudson to the Edward Hopper house and museum in Nyack. In addition to the 3rd generation Vanderbilts with their (inherited) railroad fortune, my husband and I explored the architectural and material legacy of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, financial speculator Jay Gould, West Point, the Loyalist and slaveholding Philips family, 3 generations of Rockefellers, artist/inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, the writer Washington Irving, and artists Edward and Josephine N. Hopper.

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5 steps to a successful digital history project

In a recent post for Public History Commons, Lara Kelland highlighted “the potential for the democratization of historical knowledge made possible by digital tools and the role of public historians in this process.” Like Kelland, I find the marriage of

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‘On The Way To Cape May’: Finding Hidden Histories on a Public Humanities Road Trip

Summertime tourists have been flocking to Cape May to beat the heat for nearly 250 years. Back then most visitors came by boat. Some travelled down the Delaware River from Wilmington, Philadelphia, and points North, while from across Chesapeake Bay came Baltimoreans, residents of Washington DC, and all points South (as well as their slaves). Today many visitors come down the Garden State Parkway (certainly the most direct way for the tourists traveling from New York, New England, and French Canada) but for those starting from Philadelphia or via the Delaware Memorial Bridge there is a better route that offers the opportunity to visit any of several public humanities sites along the way.

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History and Historic Preservation, huh! What are they good for?

“Please, tell me whether you think the world has changed at all since 1966,” asked Ned Kaufman at the June 5 New Jersey History and Historic Preservation conference in Monmouth County. Chuckles and giggles flowed from the audience. Agreed then that much has changed, he responded, why hasn’t our thinking in preservation also changed? Why are we still pursuing the same goals, working with the same tools, and recruiting the same supporters as we were in 1966?

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The Doctor is In

Over the past month or so a recurring topic has been floating in and out of my consideration so I’d thought I would share. It is the idea of museums as places, not just of learning and inspiration, but of rejuvenation and therapy. It started when a colleague returned from a trip to Europe full of excited stories about the new exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. Art is Therapy is not a typical exhibit where objects are selected for their relevance to a theme and displayed all together in a gallery. This show takes place throughout the museum, with commentary about the art and the space it inhabits posted adjacent to the objects which remain in their normal display areas. The underlying point of the show is to get people to go beyond looking at museum objects as special simply because they are made by a noted artist, or are particularly old or rare, but to appreciate them for how they make you feel regardless of provenance or pedigree.

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The Fickle Public

A week or so ago, a friend and museum colleague posted a link on Facebook to this article published in the Denver Business Journal. It is an opinion piece by David Sneed, CEO of Alpine Fencing. From viewing his company’s website—which offers a nice variety of fences for any of your neighborly needs—I think he would qualify as a typical “joe public” museum goer. This is someone we as museum professionals want hear from. How else will we be able to be relevant to a wider population? We must know what our patrons think, what they want and we should deliver, right?

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Could the public humanities become more valuable?

Building community has turned up as a priority in a wide variety of settings around the region lately, often with the humanities in the driver’s seat. Perhaps in the season when underground bulbs send up the flowers that remind us to appreciate the beauty in nature, it is reasonable to treat the humanities a bit like those flowers. Perhaps this is a chance to take a moment to give a sniff, let our spirits be lifted, and renew our hopes for our work in a troubled world.

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THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GREATER PHILADELPHIA

Based at MARCH, with numerous community partners, The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia is a civic project to increase understanding of one of America’s greatest cities. From abolition and the American Revolution to yellow fever and zoos (with cheesesteaks, rowhouses, and hundreds of other topics in between), the digital Encyclopedia and print volume will offer the most comprehensive, authoritative reference source ever created for the Philadelphia region.

CONFERENCE CALENDAR

Sep
5
Fri
all-day CFP: Art in Architecture/Archite... @ Deadline
CFP: Art in Architecture/Archite... @ Deadline
Sep 5 all-day
From H-DC: Latrobe Chapter of The Society of Architectural Historians 11th Biennial Symposium of the Historic Development of Metropolitan Washington, DC, March 21-22, 2015 Exploring Art in Architecture, Architecture in Art The Latrobe Chapter welcomes proposals for papers that investigate
Sep
9
Tue
10:00 am Attack of the Podcasters: A Hand... @ New Castle Public Library
Attack of the Podcasters: A Hand... @ New Castle Public Library
Sep 9 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
From Sustaining Places: Want to learn how to record and edit audio for your small museum or historic site? Podcasting, which is just one application of recording and editing audio, is an inexpensive and easy (really…trust us) way for you to get
Sep
10
Wed
all-day CFP: Legacies of Black Feminisms... @ Deadline
CFP: Legacies of Black Feminisms... @ Deadline
Sep 10 all-day
From H-AMSTY: What is the status of the black feminist tradition in the academy today? More urgently, how should we understand the black feminist tradition in relationship to queer and sexuality studies? How might we reconcile the animating influence of
Sep
17
Wed
8:30 am Symposium: Co-Creating Narrative... @ Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University, 805 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052
Symposium: Co-Creating Narrative... @ Jack Morton Auditorium, George Washington University, 805 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20052
Sep 17 @ 8:30 am – Sep 18 @ 5:00 pm
From the National Park Service: The National Park Service and The George Washington University Museum Studies Program have organized a two-day public symposium, Co-Creating Narratives in Public Spaces.  The event for NPS administrators and interpreters, academics, museum professionals, and other humanities professionals,
Sep
18
Thu
all-day Conference: James Logan and the ...
Conference: James Logan and the ...
Sep 18 – Sep 21 all-day
From H-Pennsylvania: The McNeil Center for Early American Studies, The Library Company of Philadelphia, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and Stenton Museum are hosting an international interdisciplinary conference in Philadelphia that reconsiders early Pennsylvania culture in an Atlantic World context. James Logan (1674-1751), Provincial Secretary to the

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