Allie Honican’s Digital Portfolio

Spokane Historical:

Hillyard Tour:

  1. Hillyard Schools
  2. Hillyard Murals
  3. Treaty Tree
  4. Agnes and Thomas Kehoe  
  5. James J. Hill
  6. Great Northern Railway  
  7. Mount Saint Michael
  8. Hillyard Library
  9. Willie Willey: Spokane’s Nature Boy   

Archives Projects:

Finding Aid:

Process Papers:

Inventories:

Treasures of the Archives:

Student Research Packets:

Out of the Archives Newsletter: Main

Document Exhibits:

Twitter: @wadigitarchives

  • Wrote 75 tweets
  • Gained 82 new followers since taking over the Twitter account in July of 2015

Reference:

  • Digital Archives – 380 reference requests fulfilled
  • Eastern Region Branch – 525 (135 agency and 390 public) reference requests fulfilled

Description:

Nostalgia Magazine:

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Neo-Confederates Are Not Quite so Neo

FarbsWould Hodge think these guys were just a bunch of Farbs?

How has the legacy of slavery and the Civil War endured in the American South? Tony Horwitz set out to find out his his book, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War. Horwitz went on a journey across the different states in the American South to find out what the Civil War meant to these different people and groups. His background in journalism aided him significantly, easily meeting different people and finding complex stories and individuals along the way.

While in the South Horowitz exclaimed, “everywhere, it seemed, I had to explore two pasts and two presents; one white, one black, separate and unreconcilable. The past had poisoned the present and the present, in turn, now poisoned remembrance of things past. So there needed to be a black Memorial Day and a white Veterans Day. A black city museum and a white one. A black history month and a white calendar of remembrance. The best that could be hoped for was a grudging toleration of each other’s historical memory. You Wear Your X, I’ll Wear Mine.” (208) Even after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and federally forced integration, many of the people of different races continued to segregate themselves, by choice. He also heard sentiments from African Americans like Irma Jackson urging “the audience to remember the [Civil Rights] martyrs and ‘the cause for which they fought’.” (362) But Horowitz “realized I’d heard all this before. Honor the young foot soldiers. Take a stand for our rights. The litany of heroic deeds and fallen martyrs. It was the same mournful refrain that ran through dozens of Confederate observances I’d attended.” (363) These very different groups were using the same rhetoric to elicit very different parts of history and ultimately to prove their position valad.

But why the Civil War? The United States has been involved in many wars, but the Civil War holds a very special place in American memory and culture. “While other war on American soil occurred largely along the frontier, the major clashes of the Civil War were mostly fought for control of rail junctions, crossroads, and river or sea ports: Manassas, Atlanta, Charleston, Chattanooga, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, and so on.” (240) The Civil War was fought across the east coast, though mostly in the South, and many people today are still confronted with this legacy. But that still does not explain why Southerners in particular have latched onto the Civil War as propaganda for today. After speaking with many people one man summed up the majority of white confederate defenders pretty clearly, “We’ve been forced into an extreme position. It reflects our frustration over being blamed for every danged thing. We’re tired of being put down and kicked around. We can point fingers, too.” (330) I think we can all agree the South caused the Civil War by seceding, but what exactly are white southerners still being “blamed for”? Why is this still so present?

This week I think I have more questions than answers. As someone who has only visited the American South only ever-so-briefly I can’t begin to understand or get in the minds of these people. Also, I wonder how much, if anything, has changed in the twenty years since this book was published. It still seems extremely relevant with the Donald Trump supporters we see on the nightly news touting similar ideas. Much of this comes from the legacy of failed Reconstruction in the 1870s and after the Civil Rights and counterculture movements of the 1960s. Ever since then there has been a unique feeling of conservative whites, who are part of the dominant culture, but see themselves as outsiders needing to fight for their place at the table. Well, if middle aged white men ever had a place at a table it has been in the United States, and they could stand to give up a chair once in awhile.

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Telling the Hi[story] of Slavery

Monticello

A Painting of Monticello that includes slaves, courtesy of the library of Congress.

Why are there responses to #BlackLivesMatter with #WhiteLivesMatter? Why has an even more modern Civil Rights movement popped up? Because, “what we understand today as racism is largely a legacy of the slavery that formally ended nearly a century and a half ago. The history of American slavery is a shameful tale of inhumanity and human exploitation and of the attempt to hide national hypocrisy behind tortured theories of racial inequality,” (Horton & Horton, x) and well, because many Americans have still not come to terms with this reality. Slavery was and is horrific, and we are all glad that the formal practice has come to an end. But few Americans have had to come to terms with promises unfulfilled, white Americans at least. It is significantly harder for brown people, and specifically black people who were subject to slavery for much of the United States’ history, to turn a blind eye to the causes and history of the modern movement.

Many groups sympathetic to the Confederate cause in the Civil War, but especially neo-Confederates and revisionists, still maintain that “liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South’s decision to fight the Second American Revolution.” (Sons of Confederate Veterans) If we can not even get people to agree on the proven fact that the South seceded from the Union to preserve their “peculiar institution” how are we supposed to move forward? Some neo-confederates even contend that slaves fought for the Confederacy in large numbers. They use this “fact” to support their beliefs that the Civil War was not fought to protect slavery and that blacks were interested in preserving the southern cause. And in the same breath, “even as they hotly deny that the South fought for slavery, however, promoters of the black Confederate thesis commonly strive to improve slavery’s reputation.” (Horton & Horton, 191) For example, Donald W Livingston wrote in 2010, “if freed blacks were not to enjoy social and political rights and were to live as pariahs, which would push them into vagabondage and crime, then arguably emancipation in some cases would do more harm than good. If so, then slavery as a way of managing what was perceived to be an alien African population until some better arrangement could be found.” He wrote this in 2010 people, 2010! You can read more of his quackery here: http://www.scv.org/pdf/Livingston.pdf. But luckily Bruce Levine clearly and effectively repudiates each and everyone of the false arguments put forth by these groups of individuals who believe that slaves signed up in droves to fight for the Confederacy. As he writes on page 199, “from April 1861 through March 1865 the black men who actually served as Confederate soldiers never exceeded a small handful. Claims that thousands (much less tens of thousands and more) served rest on the same kind of wishful thinking, gullibility, and misuse and abuse of historical sources that characterize neo-Confederate Civil War revisionism in general.” He takes neo-Confederates to task in his book, which this shorter article is based on, Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War.

As we read in Slavery and Public History it’s not all heads in the clouds, denial, and ignorance. Many sites and individuals are interested in hearing about slavery and its presence in American History. As we saw in the John Brown House, Monticello, and even Colonial Williamsburg, incorporating this history into their interpretation has generally been viewed positively. One would think the greatest difference would be between races, but, “the greatest differences in visitors’ views of whether or not it is important to talk about slavery at public sites and to discuss slavery as a part of American history were found among visitors in different age groups. Visitors sixty and older were less likely to see slavery as central, or even important, to America’s story.” (Horton & Horton, 148) Many of these sites have large budgets (Colonial Williamsburg), “but, I don’t think that the inclusion of more, different, and frequently disturbing and unpleasant history is something that always requires a large budget or a Rockefeller money.” (Historiann) More sites need to include this history, and it doesn’t cost money to ask your docents and volunteers to include information about slavery in their spiel. But there does have to be enforcement or at least a standard to ensure that some or all are not leaving out this valuable information. “It is important to disseminate the facts about these matters precisely because they are the facts — and because only an accurate understanding of history makes it possible to deal intelligently with the future.” (Horton & Horton, 211)

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Digital Do’s

blog-infographic

Everyone who is anyone is online! But I do not know which millennials they polled, does anyone really use Yahoo anymore?

What has the digital world done for history? It has revolutionized the way historians work.

Most of that work happens at a place called Google, this company has been way ahead of the curve at developing online projects that are particularly useful to historians like Google Books and the Google Newspaper Archive. Projects like those are good for other digital projects, but they are also good for old fashioned print projects as well. As Dan Cohen noted, “the existence of modern search technology should push us to improve historical research. It should tell us that our analog, necessarily partial methods have had hidden from us the potential of taking a more comprehensive view, aided by less capricious retrieval mechanisms which, despite what detractors might say, are often more objective than leafing rapidly through paper folios on a time-delimited jaunt to an archive.” Google is, of course, good for individual research and projects, but “the scale, expertise, and investments required in large (and smaller) digital history projects can also help develop historians into better team players.” (Galarza) The internet and digital history allow us to “do more, reach more people, store more data, give readers more varied sources; we can get more historical materials into classrooms, give students more access to formerly cloistered documents, hear from more perspectives.” (Cohen and Rosenzweig)

But how does all of this information get online? A significant portion is the digitization of analog records. Virtually all archival and history related fields have undertaken a scanning project of some scale. The scanner has become a standard piece of office equipment, but “if you are contemplating a digitization project, you need to consider those costs soberly and what they might mean for you or your organization.” (Cohen and Rosenzweig) Staff time is extremely valuable, typically stretched thin, and often the most significant expense. When scanning comes into play “Steve Puglia of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration calculates that only one-third of the costs in digitization projects stem from actual digital conversion; an equal third goes for cataloging and descriptive metadata and the final third is spent on administrative costs, overhead, and quality control.” (Cohen and Rosenzweig)

Once you get all of your documents scanned, then what? Well we have seen many examples this quarter of what different institutions have done with their digital collections. Some of the excellent ones include Valley of the Shadow, Washington State Digital Archives, Polar Bear Expedition, and September 11th Digital Archive. All of these have some amazing collections and contribute significantly to historians’ research abilities. These projects are difficult to complete as we read in Blevins’ blog post and Krause and Yakel’s article. How do you organize a physical archival collection on the internet when the possibilities are only limited by your budget? Not always well, as it turns out. Many of these websites “lack the kind of flexible, horizontal experience that has become a hallmark of today’s online user experience.” (Blevins) This does not make them useless but there can definitely be difficulties when navigating the digital world.

Historians are not simply on the receiving end of digital projects. Many contribute to digital history through blogs like Dr. Cebula, Historiann, and Dan Cohen. These blogs are informative, interesting and inspiring for young historians who need to push the envelope in regards to digital projects to increase the quality of what’s out there online (see: Get the History Right). The increase in technology and the decrease in price means that we have a variety of ways we can contribute to digital history. Podcasts, vlogs, YouTube channels, and the list goes on. We truly are only limited by our imagination, and historians need to be proactive before “we fail to embrace the new opportunities to reach a public that is hungry for history, and others fill the vacuum.” (Dr. Cebula)

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National Parks, National Dilemmas

Pulpit_Terraces,_Yellowstone_National_Park,_Wyoming,_1898

“Photochrom print of the Pulpit Terraces from above, Yellowstone National Park” Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Whitman County, Whitman College, Whitman Hotel, and a variety of elementary and middle schools across the state. All named for whom? Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, who came west to convert Native Americans to protestantism in the 1830s but gained few followers. They embraced American settlers moving west, and as Narcissa wrote in a letter “the Indians are roused a good deal at seeing so many emigrants.” (HistoryLink) A measles outbreak exacerbated the problems and “the Whitman’s mission was at the center of these tragic changes. In 1847, a group of Cayuse attacked the mission, hoping to remove the source of their devastation. Fourteen people died including Marcus and Narcissa.” (NPS Whitman Mission) This historic site was designated a unit of the National Park Service in 1936 “to focus on the continuing relevance of the history and impacts of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman’s religious mission to the Cayuse Nation in the early nineteenth century.”(NPS Whitman Mission) They have not shied away from the Native Americans involved in the attack or framed them as simple aggressors, nor Marcus and Narcissa as passive actors. Many historians embrace this as the Seattle Times notes, “today, many modern historians view the tangle of cultural conflicts, misunderstandings, naivete and arrogance as an American tragedy – a tragedy that would be repeated with the westward expansion.” Presenting the complexities of history should be standard at every park maintained by the National Park Service, but they face some serious issues within the organization.

Created by a quick stroke of Ulysses S Grant’s pen in 1872, the nation’s first National Park, Yellowstone, was born. A little more than forty years later “congress established the National Park Service in August 1916, resigning all fifteen national parks and twenty-two of the national monuments to the new agency. ‘to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life [sic] and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.’” (Meringolo 52) But in order to carry out their broad mission history has often fallen to the wayside.

The National Park Service faces the same issues as most other large government bureaucracy: unnecessary divisions of staff, lack of funding, aging workforce, decaying infrastructure, etc. But the Park Service’s problems are even more fundamental than most, “Cultural resources at 91% of the surveyed parks were ‘in serious trouble,’ in either ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ condition, and ‘being maintained in a condition well below the level that the National Park Service itself has deemed appropriate’.” (NPS 72) The very parks and historic sites the National Park Service was created to protect are literally crumbling under their management.

How could this happen? Well, a recession quickly followed by an ineffective legislative branch of the federal government are key factors. But even within the National Park Service itself there is a larger issue, “History in the NPS has been underresourced for decades. Chronic underfunding and understaffing have severely undermined the agency’s ability to meet basic responsibilities, let alone take on new and bolder initiatives, nurture and sustain public engagement, foster a culture of research and discovery, and facilitate connectivity and professional growth among NPS staff.” (NPS 80) The NPS also maintains a strong division between cultural resource management and interpretation even though “smaller parks often have combined interpretation and cultural resources management divisions or by necessity foster regular communication among all park staff— an arrangement many survey respondents found more logical and functional.” (NPS 56) History must be made a priority within the National Park Service. Their mission, the American public, and the future depends on it.

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Complicated Histories

Sand CreekAfter much debate, negotiation, and contention the site is open to the public.

Public history involves many members of the public, and compromises must be made to satisfy those on each side. As Ari Kelman’s book Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek displays, public history can be even more complicated than compromises. This beautifully written book examines the memorialization of the Sand Creek Massacre throughout history and the modern movement to preserve the site as a national historic site. Kelman’s writing makes the reader feel like they are actually experiencing this along with the other cast of characters. You get to know many of the individuals in the book and his imagery paints a picture in which you can actually see what the different events and scenery look like. For example, at Sand Creek, “Spring through the coming of autumn, colors explode. Verdant buffalo and grama grasses, interspersed with orange, red, and purple wildflowers, blanket the sandy earth, and an amazing azure sky stretches to the distant horizon.” (1).

Many different groups were involved with Sand Creek including: Native Americans, land owners, National Park Service personnel, historians, and local residents. Most had different motivations and goals and coming to a consensus proved almost impossible. As we have seen throughout the quarter, through a variety of examples, cooperation between groups can be both a positive and negative. But the Sand Creek site seems as though there were more obstacles than usual: the site was in private ownership, most groups could and would not agree on where the massacre actually took place, and almost all sources surrounding the event were conflicting.

The push to memorialize the site started in the very early 1990s but hit some significant roadblocks along the way. National events like 9/11 stalled their progress, “with federal authorities encouraging Americans to view the world through a black-and-white lens-us versus them-an event like Sand Creek, which raised questions about the consequences of American imperialism and the actions of the U.S. Army, prompted renewed controversy.” (190) Another local, but still very contentious issue was the building of a casino on Native American land close to Denver. The public immediately jumped on the project stating that it “rested on the dubious proposition that the horrors of Sand Creek could be swept away for the affected tribes by waves of corporate profits.” (234) Most Native Americans did not want Sand Creek associated with a casino in any way, and a significant land transfer of the historic site was held up because of the casino shenanigans.

In the afterward it seems as though all sides have their stories legitimized. Through some significant research of a former criminal investigator, it was determined the creek had moved a significant amount over the past one hundred and fifty years. This meant that no side was wrong, but those who looked to the creek for reference on where the massacre took place were dependent on a moving target.

One of the major reasons for the drawn out nature of discussions about Sand Creek was the Native Americans’ inherent distrust of the American government. Wronged more times than should be possible and in just about every way, the Native community still harbors significant distrust, and even sometimes disdain. In Vine Deloria Jr’s chapter “Anthropologists and Other Friends” he provides an excellent example why Native Americans inherently distrust the U.S. government through the Oglala Sioux’s experience on their reservation. “Their population has grown faster than their means of support. The government allowed white farmers to come into the eastern part of the reservation and create a county, with the best farm lands owned or operated by whites. The reservation was allotted and when ownership became too complicated, control of the land passed out of Indian hands. The government displaced a number of families during the last world war by taking a part of the reservation for use as a bombing range to train crews for combat. Only in 1968 was the land returned to tribal and individual use. (90) This systematic disregard for basic human rights has inflicted deep wounds, wounds that may never be fully healed.

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Preserving the Past

Spokane,_Washington_1914

In this photograph of Spokane in 1914 you can see what is now called the Jensen-Byrd warehouse just to southwest of the tall smokestack toward the middle of the image.

Historic Preservation is much more than rehabbing old homes to look pretty again. Preserving the built environment sometimes takes an army and almost as many resources. In Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities Andrew Hurley discusses different projects he has been involved with and how those projects played out. Beyond Preservation provides readers with a brief history of the preservation movement beginning with the late nineteenth century and emphasizing post-WWII. After the war “between 1947 and 1967, 383,000 dwelling units surrendered to the wrecking ball and more than 600,000 residents were displaced from their homes. African Americans constituted 80 percent of these refugees.” (10) The National Highway Act divided up cities and generally poor neighborhoods were targeted for demolition as they did not have the means to fight back to preserve their homes and neighborhoods.

By the 1960s with the passage of the Historic Preservation Act the federal government and many state and local governments gave significant tax breaks and incentives for preserving historic buildings instead of bulldozing them to build new structures. But this “entrepreneurial version of historic preservation that flourished after 1966 placed a greater emphasis on the economic potential of aging buildings and landmarks than on their ability to foster a shared sense of belonging.” (19) In short, people were in it for the money. But as communities saw these old dilapidated buildings adaptively reused many saw the potential in bringing whole neighborhoods back from the dead. After tax brakes waned in the 1980s and there was less economic incentive to big developers historic preservation became a more community oriented enterprise.

Hurley provides a variety of examples of different communities engaging in their history in order to make their future more bright. Communities have a variety of reasons why they want to highlight their history whether for tourism, economic development, local pride, or community engagement to name a few. But many in communities are wary of preservation as “in time, entire populations turned over, with affluent newcomers having in essence evicted the poorer residents, both renters and owners.” (26) With preservation typically comes increased property values pricing out lower income and racially diverse peoples, gentrifying neighborhoods that never were homogenous. In tackling a variety of projects around St. Louis including the Old North St. Louis, Lewis Place, Forest Park, and various historic sites Hurley argues for a more inclusive look at history. Public historians involved with these projects need to be sensitive to community needs, but also engage with the public, environmentalists, archaeologists, and oral histories.

There are obstacles for academic historians to get involved in community projects including academic emphasis on the keeping the bureaucracy of a university running tenure and promotion, and emphasis on publishing. “Through these outlets, scholars communicate primarily with their peers.  Heavily referenced and couched in abstruse theoretical frameworks, much of this work remains inaccessible to lay audiences and thus does little to help urban communities expand their self-knowledge.” (150) Hurley points out universities are warming slowly to having their faculty engaged with the community as many have seen the benefits of university engagement with the surrounding population.

One example of historic preservation in Spokane, Washington provides a few examples of the complexity of historic preservation. in 2001, Washington State University acquired property in the downtown area to create what is now known as the Riverpoint Campus of WSU and EWU. On this property was an old warehouse known by is large ghost sign, Jenson-Byrd. This brick warehouse was built in the early twentieth century, but WSU deemed this property unnecessary and preferred to “demolish the old building and replace it with a five-story student apartment complex with 425 beds in two- and four-bedroom units with shared bathrooms and shared common areas.” (SR Dec. 14, 2011) Luckily a group of citizens thought this was irresponsible to tear down a huge historic building for student apartments when it could be adaptively reused or altered for a similar price. To make a long story short WSU did end up engaging with a community they initially upset and decided to keep the building and are currently in the planning phase of the remodel.

Preservation is hard and complicated. Even people with the same goal have differing opinions on how to accomplish that goal. But as Hurley points out “democratizing the interpretation of urban landscapes in the pursuit of consensus requires patience, diplomacy, and willingness among all participants to compromise.” (174) With these words in mind it can, and should, be done.

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