Online Writing Roundup, Fall 2017

I’ve been busy! Fall semester has proven to be extremely productive, both with my department’s spatial art history projects and with these short pieces I’ve written for various online outlets:

I’m happy to have had the opportunity to write these pieces, since each is a reflection of my disparate but interrelated interests. The first draws on my past research on Connecticut to argue that we need a reexamination of the colony’s relationship with slavery. The second connects the Battle of Atlanta app I helped create in graduate school with the potential of ATL Maps as a digital platform. Last but not least, my response to Lucas Coyne’s Destory History granted me an opportunity to discuss the intersection of games and historical memory. I hope you enjoy them!

 

Visual Resources Librarian

I’m very happy to share that today was my first day as the Visual Resources Librarian in the Art History Department at Emory University. The position is largely split between data curation and project management and I will be supporting some phenomenal projects going forward. This will include contributing to existing projects like Samothrace, Mapping Senufo, and Views of Rome, as well as establishing new and exciting digital art history projects.

As the Visual Resources Librarian, I’ll be able to more fully commit myself to digital scholarship, which I have realized is my real academic passion over the last few years. It is also a bit of a homecoming, as I get to return to Emory University and Atlanta. I will miss my friends and colleagues at The University of Alabama, but I’m very excited for this new chapter in my career.

Greetings from Alabama: A Pictorial History in Vintage Postcards

I am happy to announce that my book is finally available! Greetings from Alabama: A Pictorial History in Vintage Postcards, was released by NewSouth Books at the end of October. Nancy DuPree, my co-author and curator of the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection, and I worked for roughly a year and a half on the book. The postcards come from the Wade Hall Postcard Collection, which includes slightly under 2,000 prints from the first half of the twentieth century.

1588383202Nancy and I first selected 900 postcards from this collection based on their significance to the social, cultural, and economic history of Alabama. We then worked with NewSouth Books to choose approximately 400 postcards that would represent the entire state. Nancy and I proceeded to research each of these postcards and wrote captions that reflect how and why Alabamians represented themselves through these locations. The postcards capture the state as it embraced tourism, industrialization, and leisure.

Although he did not live to see its publication, we honored Wade Hall by listing him as an author. Dr. Hall was a fervent supporter of Special Collections at The University of Alabama and always wanted the postcards to be published. He understood that postcards capture sites at a specific moment in time and reveal what people found important within their community.

I am proud of my work on this project and I hope that people will have a chance to check it out. If you’d like to know more, Alabama Living interviewed Nancy and I about the project here: http://alabamaliving.coop/article/new-book-chronicles-alabamas-past-through-vintage-postcards/

Teaching Special Collections with TeachArchives.org

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of welcoming one of Dr. Hilary Green’s class into the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection. While I have worked with Dr. Green in the past for a class on African American History, this one is titled “Civil War Still Lives!: Race, Memory, and Politics of Reunion.” The course focuses on Civil War memory and specifically asks students to examine the legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction at The University of Alabama.

I was particularly excited to work with Dr. Green’s class for two reasons. The first is that the A.S. Williams III Americana Collection is rich in sources regarding the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. We have an extensive collection of regimental histories, biographies and memoirs, published speeches, and photographs from the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the turn of the twentieth century. These sources provide valuable insight into which aspects of the Civil War would be remembered and promoted and which would be silenced in the pursuit of national reunification. Given our collection’s concentration on the Civil War, I was happy to expose Dr. Green’s class to this material and explain its historical importance.

Secondly, the instruction session allowed me to implement some of the advice I had learned from attending the American Historical Association conference in January. I attended a panel where Julie Golia, the Director of Public History at the Brooklyn Historical Society, explained the project that gave rise to TeachArchives.org. The Brooklyn Historical Society received a three-year grant in 2011 that allowed them to bring in 1,110 students from Long Island University Brooklyn, New York City College of Technology, and Saint Francis College and teach them to analyze original documents. The BHS sought to improve understanding of special collections research and effectively demystify the process of conducting primary source research. TeachArchives.org is the culmination of this project and provides invaluable guidance for teaching methods and instruction.

After attending the session, I decided that I would bring some of the strategies discussed on TeachArchives.org into my own instruction and outreach. For Dr. Green’s class, I expanded my explanation of the rules and regulations of a special collections library, explained the challenges that different materials like newspapers and photographs present, and provided a thorough list of examples of what can be used within the Williams Collection and UA’s Division of Special Collections as a whole. Instead of simply lecturing, I sat with the students and let the conversation flow to questions and concerns that they had. Overall, the session was much more relaxed than in previous classes and it seemed as though the students felt more prepared for their research. In the future I’ll continue to pull from TeachArchives.org as we expand our outreach and encourage students to visit and conduct research within our collections.

Alabama Heritage Magazine

I am happy to announce that I had recently had a piece published in Alabama Heritage Magazine! The piece, “Cartes de Visite in the American South,” describes Likenesses Within the Reach of All and explores some of the Alabama photographers whose work appears in the project. It’s my first piece to appear in print (I’ve usually written pieces that appear online) so I’m very excited. If you or your institution has a copy, be sure to take a look at the Summer 2015 issue!