Thursday, March 31, 2011

Roundtable on Administrative Histories in the Federal Government

This roundtable (meeting on Friday at 1:30 in the Museum of Commerce Classroom, Village) will try to cross invisible borders between historians and federal agency leaders to develop strategies for successfully advocating for and implementing historical research as an essential tool for decision making. Administrative histories are one important avenue to accomplish this goal. These histories describe how a unit, such as a park or a department, was established and how it has been managed over time. They might focus upon one specific area of unit development, such as legislative changes, or these histories may take a broad view of how different components of the unit developed and changed over time, based on past management decisions.

Present and future managers and agency heads use administrative histories for context in understanding the past to make informed decisions for the future. Roundtable participants will explore the ways in which administrative histories succeed—and don’t—in being part of the tool kit for decision-makers. Panel members will also engage the audience in developing ways to enhance the usability of these histories and advertise their value. They hope to start the conversation early by posting these short pieces below. You are welcome to share some thoughts now, if you are so inclined, and join us in Pensacola.

Preliminary statements by the roundtable participants have been posted here on a separate page, and readers are encouraged to peruse these and to offer some pre-conference feedback that can become a part of the face to face discussions in Pensacola. Participants are:

Lincoln Bramwell, Chief Historian, US Forest Service
Seth C. Bruggeman, Temple University
Susan Ferentinos, Public History Manager, Organization of American Historians
Robert K. Sutton, Chief Historian, National Park Service
Joan M. Zenzen, Independent Historian

Comments can be posted below.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thursday night plenary on Civil War Sesquicentennial


The Thursday night plenary, April 7, 6 pm at the Crowne Plaza's Grand Ballroom, will be an important forum for public historians to address the beginning of the national Civil War Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary).  It comes early in the conference, but do your best to attend and participate.

The speakers represent a wide diversity of experiences, from Dwight Pitcaithley's tenure as NPS Historian (and his push for NPS to tell a broader story of the Civil War era) to Connie Lester's involvement as a journal editor in Florida and her own research on the southern writer Lucy Virginia French, who experienced the twin realities of homefront and emancipation in occupied Tennessee.  Between Dwight and Connie, we have two additional voices, Tim Smith, who has written extensively on the process of preservation at the battlefield parks of the Civil War's "western theater," and Mike Allen, who is addressing perhaps the hottest controversial of this year, at how NPS and locals work together to launch the 150th anniversary of the "First Shots" and Fort Sumter, which took place almost 150 years to the day of his remarks at the plenary.  I learned of Mike and became involved with his work six years ago, not through the Civil War but through discussions and workshops at South Carolina's Penn Center--one of the nation's most important Reconstruction/Civil Rights landscapes--to launch the process to create a Gullah Geeche National Heritage Corridor.  So, we offer traditional voices and new voices to the national discussion on the Civil War 150th and its meaning today.

This event is designed to generate discussion and response; as the moderator I hope to divide the time roughly equal between the panel and the audience.  Certainly as the co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the director of the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, I find myself in the middle of plans and events in the Upper South, although most NCPH members will recall me as the guy who developed the Rural African American Church Project in Tennessee, the "Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham" National Register multiple property nomination, the "U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study in Macon County, AL" National Register MPN, and the forthcoming "Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama" National Register MPN.  In Tennessee we try to link the war to Reconstruction and onto legacies, which can range to Civil War monuments, parks, and the 20th century Civil Rights Movement.  There is much to cover in all of the conference sessions dealing with the Civil War era, and public historians have much to add and offer.  If you have questions you would like to post for either the moderator or the speakers, please respond, or better yet, attend the plenary.

Free Ticket to Entrepreneurship Workshop

A registrant for the Entrepreneurship and the Practice of History workshop (Wed, Apr 6; 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm) has a ticket that she is not going to be able to use and would like to give it away. If you are interested, contact her at

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meet Stephanie Toothman at NCPH

The National Park Service's new Associate Director for Cultural Resources, Stephanie Toothman, will be our guest speaker during the Awards Breakfast and Business Meeting (Saturday, April 9, 8:00 am - 10:00 am).

Dr. Toothman is responsible for history, historic preservation, and cultural programs in 392 national parks and a host of community programs among federal, Tribal, state and local governments and nonprofits. For more about her background and appointment, click here.

The annual awards ceremony provides a look at some of the most innovative work and admirable accomplishments in the profession today. The NCPH Business Meeting, the awards event, and remarks by guest speaker Stephanie Toothman are open to all conference registrants, though a ticket is required for the breakfast meal. Attendees without tickets will be admitted after the meal has begun and are welcome to seats in the back or sides of the room.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The entrepreneurial public historian

NCPH conference participants in the past few years have asked for more professional development opportunities. There are four workshops scheduled for Pensacola. One of them is…

Entrepreneurship and the Practice of History
Wednesday, April 6, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Facilitators: Brian Martin, History Associates, Inc.; Michelle McClellan, University of Michigan; Darlene Roth, Public History Entrepreneur; and workshop facilitator, Phil Borden, Essergy Consulting.

Entrepreneurs are often held up as the iconic embodiment of the innovation, creativity, drive, and passion undergirding the American economy. Many businesses and professions view entrepreneurs as paving the pathways to the future. But what really defines entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship (its related practice in established organizations)? What skills are involved? How might the practice of entrepreneurship expand the range of opportunities available to professional historians and redefine the future of our profession? (Limit 25 participants. Tickets - $40)

Visit the conference page to register.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From Black Slaves to Blue Angels: Exploring NAS Pensacola

Explore the Pensacola Naval Air Station, which has served the U.S. military for over 175 years and is home to the Blue Angels squadron, on the "From Black Slaves to Blue Angels: Exploring NAS Pensacola" field trip on April 8. Special emphasis will be placed on the unique nature of the antebellum black labor force employed by the U.S. military and utilized to construct many of the Pensacola's most recognizable landmarks. Call (317) 274-2716 to add this trip to your registration. If you have not yet registered, simply add this event to your registration.

Monday, March 14, 2011

THATCamp registration deadline is March 15

Tomorrow is the last day to register for THATCamp NCPH, a full-day digital humanities "unconference" where participants can network, experiment, share ideas, invent something, learn new skills, and more.  Visit the conference registration page to claim one of the open spots for this fun event!

Conference countdown: Commemorating the 9/11 Anniversary, Ten Years Later

As we're approach the conference date, we want to highlight some of the many exciting sessions and events that will be part of our Pensacola meeting.

On Friday morning (8:30-10 a.m.), join Brent Glass, Director of the National Museum of American History, and Clifford Chanin, Director of Education at the National September 11 Museum, for a vigorous roundtable and audience discussion of the 9/11 anniversary.  From collections development to interpretation, community relations, political concerns, and questions about memorialization versus a more detached historical approach, this roundtable will explore the challenges of marking this anniversary.  Historians know that commemoration often has an unfinished quality (if it weren't significant and still being discussed and debated, we wouldn't bother to commemorate it), but this event looms so large in American contemporary memory that it's particularly complex and contentious--truly a case where the tools and experience of public historians have a great deal to offer. 

Visit the conference page on the NCPH website for more!

Civil Rights and Slavery - Mobile, AL

Join Marian Carpenter, collections manager at the National Civil Rights Museum, and staff from the University of Southern Alabama on April 6 for a tour of nearby Mobile, AL, and visit sites associated with the city's history of slavery and the Civil Rights movement. Lunch is included. Call (317) 274-2716 to add this trip to your conference registration. If you have not yet registered, simply select the event on your registration form.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Naval Live Oaks and Ft. Pickens Field Trip

Beautiful ocean vistas and a Civil War era fort, located on one of the oldest federally protected pieces of land in the country, await you on the Naval Live Oaks and Ft. Pickens field trip on Thursday, April 7. Lunch at Peg Leg Pete's is included. It's not too late to sign up! Call (317) 274-2716 to add this trip to your registration. If you have not yet registered, simply select this event on your registration form.

MTSU Reception at NCPH

Please join the Middle Tennessee State Unviersity Public History Program get-together at the NCPH meeting. Visit with current and former faculty, graduate students, and friends.

When: Thursday, April 7, 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Where: CAVU Lounge, Crowne Plaza Pensacola
Who: MTSU Public History Program and friends