In March 2013 I took part in a remarkable conference organized by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College that brought together academics, preservationists, consultants, historical interpreters, museum professionals, living historians, students, K-12 teachers, and new media specialists. I took part in a panel discussion and moderated one on the interpretation of United States Colored Troops at historic sites. It was an intense couple of days that pointed both to the possibilities of future collaboration and places where there remains a deep divide and even misunderstanding among certain groups.
Initial plans included a volume of essays based on the conference presentations, but that proved to be difficult to organize for a number of reasons so a smaller collection was eventually announced for publication in the journal, Civil War History. Nice to finally get my hands on a copy.
I was asked to join National Park Service Rangers, Emmanuel Dabney and Beth Parnicza, on an essay that explores recent shifts in park service interpretation of USCTs, what worked and what still needs attention. I have no doubt that Emmanuel and Beth will agree that this wasn’t the easiest essay to write, but I am certainly pleased with the final product. My name comes last in this article for good reason. While I helped to frame the overall argument, the essay highlights the experiences and analysis of Emmanuel and Beth. I think they did a superb job.
Thanks to James J. Broomall, Peter S. Carmichael, and Jill Ogline Titus for the invitation to take part in this project. This volume features some incredibly talented historians, all of who are at the top of their game.
Although each of the articles looks interesting, it’s disappointing that there appears to be little thought given to methodological innovation, especially how digitized newspapers and census records could be used to characterize and quantify cultural change. An economic historian recently told me about how he uses the census to track individuals through the Great Depression; it would be very interesting to see similarly powerful tools applied to topics such as veterans’ experiences, the plantation economy, changing attitudes about the home and women’s participation in public life, the lives of previously enslaved people, migration patterns, etc.
I hear you, but there was no way that the scope of the conference could be represented in one journal issue.
Ah, yes. Do you recall if what I mentioned was addressed elsewhere in the conference, then?
Off hand I can’t recall, but I do remember the subject coming up on various panels. I even referenced it briefly on one of my panels.
Good! I’ll have to watch for it.
Just to clarify, you won’t find it reflected in the journal essay. I took part in another panel at the conference in which it came up.
Just read it this morning. Very good job. Thanks to all three of the authors.
Thanks, Pat. I am looking forward to reading the other essays.