Interpreting Reconstruction at Historic Sites


Not much going on this week. I am finishing up my presentations for CWI, which kicks off this coming Friday.

Here is one of the sessions from a recent symposium on Reconstruction that took place at the Columbia Museum of Art in April. This panel discussion on the ongoing push to find a suitable historic site to interpret Reconstruction was moderated by Eric Foner and includes Greg Downs and Kate Masur, who are both working with the National Park Service on this project. It is well worth watching.

I want to send this one out to my fellow blogger in “Old Virginia,” who has found a not so clever way of making the point that American slavery wasn’t so bad. Yes, slavery apologists are alive and well. This is the same individual who maintains that Stonewall Jackson was the “black man’s friend.” πŸ™‚

Commentary like this serves as a reminder of why the history of American slavery and race is so important for us to understand.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

6 comments… add one
  • Yulanda Burgess Jun 14, 2016 @ 8:43

    FYI: Camp Nelson Heritage Park in conjunction with the USCT Living History Association is having an event that focuses on Reconstruction on September 9-11, 2016. The activities will include the discharge of the USCTs, reenlistment, and Freedmen Bureau activities (ie portrayals of registering of families, reuniting families, wedding ceremonies). It will mostly be first and third person interpretation. The groups who portray “Buffalo Soldiers” are anticipated to attend so the public will hopefully have a sense that those Reconstruction era black regiments have solid Civil War roots in the USCTs. Additionally, there is a slate of lectures but I don’t have the topics yet. I think Camp Nelson is presenting a unique opportunity. I am personally unaware of any site doing historical interpretative portrayals like this for 2016. In my opinion, it appears that most sites and living history or reenactment groups have reset their clocks instead of approaching Reconstruction. For many, Civil War focused activities ended last year. I am happy to be corrected and would be interested if someone else is aware of similar events.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 14, 2016 @ 8:45

      In my opinion, it appears that most sites and living history or reenactment groups have reset their clocks instead of approaching Reconstruction.

      I haven’t given much thought at all to this, but I suspect you are correct.

  • Ken Hoffman Jun 14, 2016 @ 6:05

    “I am such a damn Yankee…”

    That’s just northern stubbornness, but it can be overcome. After 47 years in the North and now 12 in the South I occasionally hear myself saying “y’all.” Who knows, in another 12 years I might start eating grits… (Just joking, there is no chance of that happening) πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the video, Kevin, that’s a good spark for making the ride up for this weekend’s conference.

  • Karen Wieckert Jun 14, 2016 @ 4:19

    I have taken your advice and am listening to the program. I wanted to know something about the place under discussion. I opened another tab in my browser and typed in “Buford South Carolina.” I am such a damn Yankee…

    • Kevin Levin Jun 14, 2016 @ 4:20

      It’s Beaufort, South Carolina. πŸ™‚

      • Karen Wieckert Jun 14, 2016 @ 6:59

        Yep. That’s what I realized because even Google knew what it was, bless its heart.

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