Over ten years ago Congress called on the National Park Service to investigate Revolutionary War sites and War of 1812 sites, evaluate their significance, and identify any threats to them. The resulting report, the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Historic Preservation Study, is now available online (download the full 144 page PDF here).
Within this report the National Park Service looks at 243 battlefields and 434 historic properties. Of those, 170 are considered threatened (often by development nearby).
Last month in a What We’re Reading post we linked to an article about the Poplar Grove plantation in Maryland where documents from as far back as the 1600s had been found in attics and other buildings. Researchers, with support from the Maryland State Archives and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College, have descended on Poplar Grove to sort through the papers and unearth the rich history they contain. And while there’s much to go through, they’re taking the time to share some of the most interesting finds on the Poplar Grove Project blog.
The Curriculum and Training Committee of the National Council on Public History (NCPH) has posted draft best practices recommendations for public history education on the NCPH web site, including recommended best practices for (please note these are all PDFs) MA programs in public history, graduate certificate programs, undergraduate public history programs, and public history internships.
The documents are intended to highlight the key elements of a quality public history program “while recognizing that each graduate or undergraduate program has its own goals, resources, and needs and will thus develop its own distinct personality.”
Members of the committee welcome comments on the draft documents via a link on the web site.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has declared May 2008 as the fourth annual National Preservation Month, and has created a number of programs in celebration. The theme of this National Preservation Month is “This Place Matters,” and people can help out by “celebrating the country’s diverse and irreplaceable heritage by participating in local events throughout the nation.” One aspect of the “This Place Matters” campaign is explained here on their blog. The National Trust is asking historians and other friends of preservation to tell the Trust about places that matter to them. The National Trust is collecting photographs and stories about important places on their web site, and is also posting short, reader-created documentaries about important places on their YouTube channel.
Jobs for history majors. Careers in history. Why study history? These are some of the most popular search phrases that bring people to the AHA’s web site. High school and undergraduate students question why they should go into history. Graduate students question what the job market will look like once they earn their PhDs. And many ask what one can do with a history degree outside of academia.
To help all of these groups find answers look to the AHA’s web site and the plethora of job and career related resources available there.
On Wednesday, March 12, the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) hosted a news conference to release its annual report on the ten most endangered Civil War battlefields.
The 2008 edition of History Under Siege: America’s Most Endangered Battlefields lists ten battlefield sites, including Antietam, Maryland; Perryville, Kentucky; and Cold Harbor, Virginia, that are threatened by housing development, highway construction, and the construction of cell phone towers and industrial facilities. Sites in areas that were once rural are under increasing pressure from suburban and exurban development.
Two new tools for creating online exhibits and walking tours offer exciting opportunities for presenting public history and developing creative class projects.
As briefly mentioned in a recent “What We’re Reading,” the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University has just launched the public beta version of Omeka, an open-source web publishing platform designed to help historical institutions develop interactive online exhibits. Developed in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society, Omeka was intended to help small museums establish a digital presence.
Doing Public History, a new web site and electronic journal, attempts to “promote public debate about the nature and role of history in Britain.” The site notes the relative lack of public discourse about the past in the U.K. when compared to the United States and Australia, where national debates about the role of the past are common. It calls for a sustained discussion about the relationship between the academic historian and the public.
Essays in the inaugural issue of the journal include a meditation on the role of historians in public life and advice on sharing historical research with the public through radio and television.