Academia Or the People?(Reaction paper 7)

Making public history can be extremely difficult, especially when writing public history. The reason being, it’s different from academic writing that most college students and professors are used to. For example, George Orwell says in Thomas Cauvin book that you should “never use a long word when a shorter one will do.” Page 117. Public history is less formal in writing style so you don’t have to write big words no one knows about. Also you are not confined to writing a particular style like you do in a book. Publishers might want you to use their writing style. In Public History you don’t worry about that. One of the most difficult task a public historian must do is grab the interest of public readers. What are some the best ways public historians can do that?

Going a little further back in the book readings on page 115 Cauvin says “…, History magazines have also been a major aspect in public history writing.” I think historical magazines is a good starting place back in the 1940’s. However, magazines are generally not free and require you to pay a subscription fee. Even if the historical magazine is free you would still need to set up an account of some kind. Most people wouldn’t do it because it’s a hassle to sign up, regardless of the little time it would take. This is why La, Seattle, New York and other Times online newspapers are awesome because it’s free and they normally report something interesting or seriously important articles like current road conditions.

Sometimes historical fictional novels can be more appealing than a highly regarded history book because it tells the story better by using emotions of the characters in it. George Beck says on page 119 that historical fiction bring up a lot of questions. Would the popularity of historical fiction novels benefit academic writing or threatened academic history? In a way, it benefits academic books because people who read historical fiction may want to read what the true history of their favorite character is. In retrospect, it can hinder academic books because historical fiction is easier and more entertaining to read, taking away the audience. Yet, its difficult to identify historical accuracy of what is being said in a historical fiction novel without proper bibliographies and foot or end notes.

Lastly one of the best ways to portray public history is using pictures and video clips. Page 121 talks about graphic novels and how should they be used in context to academic history? I think they are great with showing how some of people in the past felt about certain situations. For example, there was a civil war graphic novel promotion at my university. The pictures showed a lot more emotion than an academic book ever could. Another item which would get the public interested a lot is using historical accurate memes. The one uploaded is a painting of Henry Knox in his military uniform during the American revolution.

 

henry_knox-meme

Originally from Wikipedia

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Railroad Power! (Reaction Paper 6)

Most historians know that railroads play a huge role in American society at the turn of the 20 century. Railroads help the economy, establish globalization, and start towns. Railroads also bring people, which allows them to search for the American Dream. Today we will be exploring the opportunities that railroads bring to the city of Cheney and eventually Spokane.

The first ever transnational railroad that went across a gigantic portion of the United States from Duluth, Minnesota right through Cheney, Washington. It was not always named Cheney. It was first named Willow springs and underwent various names changes until the people decided on naming the town after Benjamin P. Cheney. Benjamin P. Cheney was a big contributor in creation of this small little town, but there were other contributors that played even bigger a role in funding the Northern Pacific Railroad. Henry Villard funding a large portion of this railroad and even got the federal government on board to give him a loan. However, building railroads often displaced Indians that were already living in nearby areas. This lead to the battle of four lakes with “Yakama, Spokane, Palouse, and Coeur d’Alene tribes.” For the most part the United States Federal Government put these tribes on reservations.

Even though Indian tribes and bands were displaced by federal government there is still some good that came out of it. The railroad gave potential to not only towns, but also to universities. Eastern Washington University (EWU) was one of the first universities to be built in Washington State 1882. “Benjamin P. Cheney gave the town $10,000 to start the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy.” This later became (EWU). The railroad also gave up 8 acres of land. History.link.org is missing a contributing factor of the Moril Land Grant Act, which gave schools federal land to build on. That’s why the college must fellow federal regulations closer than other colleges that are not Moril Land Grant schools.

The last thing that the railroad brought over was famous architects. Some were trained like Harold C. Whitehouse and Ernest Price at Cornell College. Others such as Kirtland Cutter still did amazing work without a degree in engineering or architecture. Instead his degree was in art which is can be an applicable field to house building. Some of the coolest buildings were created in all sorts of styles. St. John Cathedral was built by Whitehouse and Price in classic gothical revival style. It was mostly made out of stone blocks and stained glass, but it looks amazing. It looks a lot better to see the finish product than to see the voided or superseded blueprints of the cathedral. The circle in the middle reminds me of the Late Romanesque Revival style. Often times, architects use a mix of 2-4 different styles to create a completely unique home. Kirtland Cutter is also famous for his Davenport Hotel and Mansions like the Patsy Clark Mansion. The Davenport uses the Chicago business style and late Italian renaissance revival the Patsy Clark Mansion is difficult to identify, but I would say it’s Queen Ann, with small hints of mission revival and some others.

 

Your Drunk Go Home (Jail Records of Spokane 1898-1900)

For this post I had the pleasure of looking at 1 specific jail record. A Jail record describes when, why, a person is arrested and also by what officer arrested them. Around this time Drunkenness was relatively common for citizens of Spokane. My authentic photo copy page had Drunkenness on all 38 arrests. The arrests consist of 36 male and 2 females. The majority of males were laborers. For example, Andrew Peterson, a immigrant from Sweden, was arrested at 3 am because of drunkenness. He was the only laborer who had money ($4.25) on him.

However, there were some middle class workers as well such as engineers and one writer. The writer C. L Keouf at age 28 was arrested for drunkenness at 8:00 pm and was charged, like everybody else 7 dollars for one night or two stay behind bars. Keouf was the only person on this jail record who could read and write. Its interesting to see that he got arrested at 8:00 pm. Totally different from today’s curfew.

Collections At Large (Reaction Paper 5)

In this world, people are often attracted to nostalgia from the good ol’ days. This nostalgia attraction created a want for keeping old items such as diaries, newspapers, photos, emails, and more. Eventually, people kept on collecting more and more items that led to full on collections that filled entire buildings. Upon filling buildings worth of materials discovered a problem. How would one regulate such large collections?

Well there ended being a controversy between American Historical Society and the National Archives according to Thomas Cauvin on page 29.This caused split in 1936 creating when archivist left the national archives and created the Society of American Archivists (SAA).  This split also caused a split in a different area. The split between what skills are more useful in a collection? A historian’s skill set or record management skills? The ideal is to have both historical knowledge of your collection and record management background to organize collections efficiently. Something like a B.A in history and a masters in library science would fit nicely. (SAA) Provides training courses in persevering and organizing collections. Recommend checking them out their two different certification programs.

In persevering and organizing collections it’s important to identify what collections should go where. There are various kinds of institutions such religious, government, university, and museum archives. Instead of identify what institutions carry collections like SAA does, it’s more important to note what kind of collection such as, photos, manuscripts, Ephemeras, and special collections. An example of special collection is something like the libby collection at the Museum of Arts and Culture.

Even though the SAA describe work environment, they don’t do a good job and one of their links is not working. They do not list any sort of examples of the previous institutions. I have seen two different archives the Washington State Archives and the Museum of Arts and Culture and they appear almost identical to an untrained eye. Most collections are stored in a temperature control room (60-65celsus approximate) with white shelves that are 10 feet tall. There could be anywhere of 30-100 of these shelves in an archive building. The safety hazards are paper cuts, lifting things over 50 lbs (rare occurrence), climbing ladders and staring at a computer for too long. So work environment is pretty good, especially when you compare it to a harvesting job cleaning combines.

This kind of harvesting should be reserved for people like Sandy Berger. New York Times reported that Berger illegally took manuscripts without permission of the archivist. Berger assumed that he had authority to take them under his government position. He then had to pay 50,000 dollar fine along with returning the documents. Don’t take documents without asking.You can read more about this on the this pdf called berger

Digitize Me History (Reaction Paper 4)

Digital history is a relatively new field that requires a person to learn sets of new skills that have not been available. Using internet sources and other online newspaper archives can give historians reference points to identify their collections. Yet, how can  historians use radio stations, Global Information Systems (GIS), movies and online databases effectively?

One place that organizes sources well is google. Dan Cohen’s critic of google books portrays the same feelings I have about google books. He first statement google is great for history because it”allow us to read millions of books in our pajamas.” Google has done even more for us by allowing us to access newspapers, google docs, Youtube, and gmail. Mose of these digital sources are free except for google books. For some reason google does not want to make their books free. The only free function google gives you is a preview of the  book you want to read. So why not make google books free? The reason is google might not have the funding to make everything free. There are “many examples used by Google’s detractors to show a lack of quality in their library project.” Dan includes that a scanned hand of Plato lacks quality. He explains the lack of quality is because there is so much information there is not time to prefect.

Speaking of lack of quality, radio stations and movies often need improvement. Thomas Cauvin dives into this questions on how we historians  can improve scholarly works. On page 164 he says “for those who are willing to produce radio programs should also study studio, audio and sound archives.” This will improve how radio programs persevere important interviews. Cauvin also mentions that movies are often wrong when it comes to the history. “Historians never played a part in the movie, only as a critic.” 167. Historians are natural critics, but instead of being critics all the time, they should help film makers capture the emotions of history because “People learn through emotion and challenges of a historical film.” 167.

Another technology that challenges historians is how to use (GIS). GIS is a vital tool when historians want to look at specialized areas of particular topics on a map. This GIS map consist of all the pony express routes on the western side of the united states. It also gives various start and finish dates of each pony express. Effective when you want to discover what pony express was the first one the west side, when did pony express became popular and when they died out. This GIS map was a bit laggy, but that’s because of how much information there is on the map.

It is important to have tons of information, but you have to display them in a appealing matter, otherwise you are not attracting anybody. My favorite out the three chosen sites given by Dr. Cebula is Valley Of Shadows for that reason. When you enter the archive it brings you to 3 buildings layouts separated by years oldest to newest. Valley of Shadows is an archive of civil war material consist of newspapers, office records and dairies. Recommend that civil war buffs check this out.