Typical historical research is not sweaty business. In fact, as I began this, I was shivering in the reading room of the Barbados National Archives—an airy, light-filled space inside a 19th-century leper hospital with gorgeous pine floors stained the color of Barbadian mahogany. In contrast to days spent in the archives, fieldwork can come with heat, humidity, and lots of dirt depending on the site. Visiting a manicured historical site that has to conform to visitor expectations about accessibility, for example, is generally less hot, humid, or dirty, whereas pulling off the road to climb around a derelict building can evoke one’s inner Indiana Jones.
By Justene G. Hill
Over the past few years, several movies and television shows have delved into the history of slavery in the United States. From the dramatic (12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained) to the comedic (Key & Peele), slavery has been re-introduced as a theme in American popular culture. In January 2015, NBC announced that it would air an eight-hour miniseries called Freedom Run, based on Betty DeRamus’ 2005 book Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad.
In the October 2015 issue of Perspectives on History, I wrote on historically informed performance of medieval, Renaissance, and baroque music. Musicians at the Folger and Newberry Consorts spoke to me about how history informed their music, and in turn how music could help transport listeners to a different time.
At the National Council on Public History annual meeting in Baltimore last month, I once again found myself at the intersection of music and history at a workshop called “Banjos in the Museum: Music as Public History.” Organized by the Stevenson University public history program, this workshop featured archivist and musicologist Greg Adams and instrumentalists Ken and Brad Kolodner.
The premise of Hamilton: An American Musical sounds a bit like a desperate high school history teacher’s last-ditch effort to engage apathetic teens: a hip-hop musical telling the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of the less iconic founding fathers.
Five years ago, as I began writing an environmental history of Staten Island, one of my advisors who grew up in New York during the 1980s paused at the end of our hour-long conversation. “But Pat,” he said, considering his words carefully, “what does all this history tell us about the Wu?”
As Shatha Almutawa reports in the September issue of Perspectives on History, a humble French farmer’s 1830s discovery of a trove of Roman silver artifacts has been carefully restored by conservators at the Getty Villa. Here, art conservator Susan Lansing Maish takes us behind the scenes of efforts to restore and interpret this priceless treasure.
A 16th-century Mughal miniature will likely be sold for 8,000–10,000 British pounds at Christie’s Islamic art auction on October 8. In a phone interview, Andrew Butler-Wheelhouse, specialist in Islamic and Indian art at Christie’s King Street, described this unique miniature