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.