Posts Tagged ‘public history’
Mandi Magnuson-Hung, PubComm13 Committee Chair with Rutgers-Camden graduates preparing to give walking tours of Historic Cooper Street in Camden, New Jersey. (Photo: Charlene Mires)
On April 26, 2013, graduate students and professionals in the public humanities participated in the third annual Public History Community Forum—PubComm13. This year’s event was held at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey in the Cooper Street Library in Johnson Park. Participants toured historic Cooper Street before the lunchtime keynote address. A series of roundtable discussions and a large group Q&A closed the day.
After a brief introduction by Mandi Magnuson-Hung, Chair, PubComm planning committee, participants walked the streets of Historic Camden with six MA public history students from Rutgers-Camden. Over the course of the semester the students researched and wrote the tours, presenting them for the first time that day. The tours touched on a number of themes including architecture, industrialization and urbanization, Camden’s medical history, and youth and education.
For those unable to attend PubComm13 or interested in learning more about Camden, please visit the Cooper Street website http://cooperstreet.wordpress.com/
Dr. Howard Gillette, Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers-Camden. (Photo: Charlene Mires)
Dr. Howard Gillette, Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers-Camden and preeminent Camden scholar offered a thoughtful keynote on not only the history of Camden but its present as well. He spoke at length on the built environment of the city and how we might use the existing fabric of Camden to understand our historical context. He urged everyone to simply “take a walk,” noting that you can begin to imagine positive steps for the future of Camden by simply getting out in the city.
The majority of the day was spent engaged in “Pubic Humanities Speed Dating”—PHSD. For two hours twelve public humanities professionals and thirty-eight attendees met in a series of informal roundtables. Speakers represented the vastness of public history; consultants, archivists, public historians, site administrators and others fielded questions from students and professionals alike. No topic was off-limits, though most discussions kicked off with a brief introduction before exploring the public history issues and themes that mattered to participants.
Paulette Rhone (seated) and Sandy Levins (right) discussed the importance of volunteerism and the ins and outs of historic faux food at their table. (Photo: Charlene Mires)
This year’s speakers:
Howard Gillette, Professor Emeritus of History at Rutgers-Camden- Keynote
Tom Foley of Villanova University, Emilie Davis Diaries digital project
Jen Jannofsky of Rowan University and Whitall House
Sandy Levins, Historic Faux Food and Camden County Historical Society
Anita McKelvey, Authentic Philadelphia
Jim Mundy, Director of Education and Programming for the Abraham Lincoln Foundation at the Heritage Center of Union League, Philadelphia
Kris Myers, Director of Programs, Alice Pual Institute
Rosalind Remer and Paige Talbott, Remer & Talbott
Paulette Rhone, The Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery
Mary Rizzo, New Jersey Council for the Humanities
Leslie Watson, Camden Shipyard and Maritime Museum
Rebecca Yamin, historical archaeologist
Speakers unable to attend:
Flavia Alaya, Alaya Associates Cultural Resource Consulting
Mimi Iijima, Pennsylvania Humanities Council
Janet Sheridan, Cultural Heritage Consultant
Michael Tedeschi, Interactive Mechanics
A recurrent theme in the final Q&A was place. What do we know about where we are, how do we find out about where we are, and how do we engage with other people where we are? Historical archaeologist Rebecca Yamin stressed the role historical archaeology has in connecting people to their past and allowing them to have pride in that past. Sandy Levins, Programming and Publicity Director at the Camden County Historical Society and owner of Historic Faux Foods, echoed Dr. Gillette’s message, questioning what we know about the actual neighborhoods in Camden. Rather than focusing on stories in the media we should be striving to understand what the city means to the people “who struggle every day to make a life.”
Rutgers-Camden graduate student Mikaela Maria began her tour on the steps of the Cooper Street Library. (Photo: Charlene Mires)
Looking forward to PubComm14, participants requested more time for Public Humanities Speed Dating and more informal meet & greets throughout the year. Jen Janofsky of the Whitall House and Rowan University suggested adding a workshop component focused on resume building, choosing the right internship, job counseling and self presentation. Mary Rizzo, Associate Director of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities recommended casting an even broader net to bring in public historians who work in the federal and state arena, in public and private and for-profit and non-profit institutions.
If you have ideas for PubComm14 or would be willing to participate in PHSD or workshop please contact Mandi Magnuson-Hung at firstname.lastname@example.org
One of PubComm’s goals is fostering the diverse and growing public history community and providing opportunities for graduate students and emerging professionals in the region. Not only did graduate students from Rutgers-Camden design PubComm13’s walking tours, but the planning committee was made up of graduate students and emerging professionals as well.
PubComm13 was made possible by the support of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities at Rutgers-Camden, and the guidance of Dr. Charlene Mires.
The love of money, it is said, is the root of all evil. I think we can all agree, given the recent financial unpleasantness, the statement conveys a universal truth. As an executive director of a non-profit historical organization, I think about money more than I really care to, but it comes with the job. I know of no one in my position who would tell you she or he has all the fiduciary resources they need. But we work with what we have, find places to get funding for particular projects and delay, redesign or abandon when necessary.
When I read stories about the embezzlement of funds from AASLH or the mismanagement (to put it kindly) of funds at the Missouri History Museum, it is disheartening. Not because it happened. Human nature expresses itself in different ways and dishonesty is one of them. But because when it happens in our small world of historical non-profits, it hurts us all. We are challenged on a regular basis from many quarters by things unrelated to money. We are challenged to reach the public with our historical message, we are challenged to help the same public understand what we do (e.g. an exhibit isn’t just a display of a bunch of old stuff, we don’t know the answer to every random history query off the top of our heads, no you cannot borrow an object from our museum or archive to display in your home/business) and we are challenged to make a case for the value of our institution, our work, and our services to the community.
Preventing financial misdeeds is one reason why we have policies and procedures, codes of ethics, conflict of interest agreements, etc. But a bunch of polices do not enforce themselves and it is not until something goes wrong that the finger pointing starts. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the board of directors. The non-profit executive serves at the pleasure of the governing body which is the board. The executive is to provide the specialized professional expertise to run the organization within the best practices accepted by the field. The board is responsible for ensuring the fiduciary well-being of the organization and for supervising the executive. That means, along with making sure the organization has enough funds to operate, members of the board need to make sure there are checks on the power of the executive. For example, limits on discretionary spending and arranging for an audit by a certified individual or firm on a regular basis. Audits, when done right, do not just look into the financial records of a non-profit but also examine procedures for handling money and expenditures, and looks at the relationship between the board and the executive staff. One issue the AASLH auditors brought up before the embezzlement became known was their concern about the fact only one person in the organization had authority over funds.
From my point of view, when a board abdicates responsibility through apathy, inaction or disregard of policy, it creates an atmosphere conducive to misdeeds. I’ve seen more than one organization that, but for the high ethical standards of its executive and staff, could end up in a mess like the Missouri History Museum or worse. In another post, I’ll talk about what happens when the board oversteps its bounds, which can be just as bad.
The banks of the Delaware, below the battlefield grounds on which Fort Mercer once stood. Fort Mercer on the New Jersey side and Fort Mifflin on the Pennsylvania side were constructed in 1777 to defend Philadelphia during the American Revolutionary War.
Hiking regularly on the weekends, I am always impressed with how much the general public enjoys the outdoor experience. While each individual has his or her own reasons, the benefits are universal. There is the need to get back in touch with nature so as to spend quality time in the woods while enjoying some solitude. Then there are the health benefits as people seek to burn calories and stay in shape. Regardless of the goal or objective, then, it is clear that enjoying the great outdoors is enjoyed by many. Read more.
Proposed visitor center for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, designed by GWWO, Inc./Architects. Courtesy GWWO, Inc.
By Barbara Tagger
I was a conductor on the Underground Railroad for eight years, and I can say what most conductors can’t say – I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger (Harriet Tubman, 1896).
On March 25, 2013, President Barack Obama established by proclamation the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Tubman’s native Dorchester County, Maryland. Encompassing some 25,000 acres of federal, state, and private lands, including large segments of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the Tubman memorial honors the life and legacy of one of the United States’ most outstanding human rights advocates and freedom fighters best known for her role as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. It is the 399th unit of the National Park Service (NPS), one of thirty-six focusing on African American themes and one of three recognizing African American women. Read more.
Over the last few weeks I have been turning over in my mind and bouncing off colleagues the idea of admission fees, pro and con. Museum fees are hot button issue for many reasons. Few museums can claim fees are the sole or even the majority of their budget revenue; they are a part of the funding jambalaya that includes—or should include—membership or similar programs, endowment or investment funds, fundraising event proceeds, planned giving gifts, etc. How big a role fees play in funding varies depending on the size of the organization. Read more.
From H-New Jersey:
The Christie Administration announced that Paterson’s Hinchliffe Stadium has been named a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The stadium is already listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places.
Hinchliffe Stadium opened in 1932 and is one of only two surviving Negro Baseball League home fields in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Hinchliffe is an exceptional example of a Negro League baseball stadium in 20th-century segregated America. It served as home field for teams such as the New York Black Yankees and the New York Cubans. Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Leroy Satchel Paige and Paterson native Larry Doby all played at Hichliffe Stadium. Hinchliffe hosted the 1933 Colored Championship of the Nation.
Alternatively called “City” Stadium, Hinchliffe was built with public funds at the start of the Great Depression. The stadium also served as a venue for boxing, auto racing and professional football. In the early 1960s Paterson’ schools took ownership of Hinchliffe and enlarged the facility. Despite being in use into the 1990s, Hinchliffe fell into disrepair and was closed at the end of the 1996-97 school year.
Learn more about this historic stadium and the campaign to save Hinchliffe at the Friends of Hinchliffe website.
See a slideshow of Hinchliffe as it appears today at digitalballparks.com.
Watch a 2006 video on the historical significance of Hinchliffe created by Brian LoPinto who grew up in Paterson and is co-founder of the Friends of Hinchcliffe (2006).
I accompanied my husband on a business trip to New York City not long ago. It was a whirlwind, less than 24 hour excursion, but I hadn’t been in a while and I always find the Big Apple both intellectually and sensorially stimulating—yay for NYC! I noticed on the trip that every time (I’m not exaggerating) my husband mentioned he was a magazine editor the person he was talking to asked if the magazine was available online or as an app. The age range of the people asking him was between 18 and 55. This spoke volumes to me as a person whose job is also making information available to people. Read more.
From the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission:
On Monday, February 25, 5:30-7:45pm, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission is hosting an event to highlight its African American Heritage Tour project at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Exhibits will be open to attendees at 5:30pm. Florcy Morisset, Director of Programs, Richard Allen Museum, Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church will give opening remarks at 6:20pm followed by Amy Hillier, University of Pennsylvania who will present on “The Ward: Race and Class in Du Bois’ 7th Ward.” A panel discussion featuring Cassidy Boulan, DVRPC; Aissia Richardson, Uptown Entertainment and Development Corporation; and Melissa Jest, Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia will begin at 6:55.
To RSVP or for more information please contact Jane Meconi at 215.238.2871 or email@example.com.
The bar at the Schneiders’ saloon. Visible on the bar is the 19th century version of a growler. Children living at 97 Orchard St. might have come down the stairs on the left to present their empty growler to John Schneider. Once he filled it, a child began the careful climb back home.
Photograph by Keiko Niwa, courtesy Lower East Side Tenement Museum
By Mandi Magnuson-Hung
Since opening in 1992 in what was previously a tenement building at 97 Orchard Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum has interpreted the lives of the working-class immigrants who occupied the building during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Now, with it its first new permanent exhibit since 2008, Shop Life, the Tenement Museum is building on its past to move in new directions, opening up new stories and using new media to tell them. Read more.
The Cooper Street Library and the surrounding park was donated to the city of Camden by Eldridge R. Johnson. The Neo-Classical building was constructed from 1914 to 1930. It is currently owned by Rutgers University-Camden. [Photo by author]
The planning committee for the Public History Community Forum (PubComm) is pleased to announce that PubComm 13 will be held at the Cooper Street Library on the Rutgers-Camden campus on Friday, April 26, 2013. Participants are invited to join walking tours of historic Camden designed, researched, and led by Rutgers graduate students of public history. Tours will begin at 1:00pm and following lunch (provided), round table discussions from 3:30-4:45 pm in 15-20 minute segments. The group will reconvene for a brief Q&A before adjourning by 5:30pm. PubComm ’13 is free.
The Rutgers campus is just one stop in from Philadelphia on the PATCO line (City Hall) and easily accessible on New Jersey Transit?s River Line (Cooper Street/Rutgers). Guides to campus and the Cooper Street Library from PATCO and the River Line will be on hand to escort visitors as needed. A limited number of parking passes will be available as well. Registration is forthcoming.
PubComm13 is made possible through the generous support of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers Camden.
Pubcomm 2011– Building Public History Collaboration
Public History Community Forum ’12