Hamilton’s Impact on Culture — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information.

By Autumn McNutt

Hamilton has swept the world by surprise with new its innovative story and delight to audiences around the world. It is a 16 Tony award winning Broadway show hitting the record for the most nominations in the history of Broadway theatre. It has improved the way hip-hop and rap can thrive at the box office, which provides evidence that the history of Broadway sounds are changing into more contemporary music.

The show is not exclusively a hip-hop musical but rather a mash-up of pop, rock and, and jazz that adds to the songbook of American theatre. Hamilton has significantly increased genuine diversity on Broadway, hitting the record of 40 nominations dedicated to actors of color. Throughout history, most Broadway performances feature either a majority of white cast or one that revolves around a single, particular group. However, Hamilton has filled its roles with a plethora of races and ethnicities, many of who have been afforded equal opportunities as their non-white cast members. It is clear that the influence of music and emphasis of diversity has created a unique cast.

The show has attracted both political figures and entertainers such as Beyoncé, Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Madonna, and more, and has become one of the only musicals to win a Pulitzer Prize. In terms of social media and pop culture, it has raised the bar for Broadway show’s social media and the artist of color’s presence through the Internet.

The show is a social and political commentary on the complexities that followed Alexander Hamilton and his childhood as an orphan in the Caribbean, through his successful career as an outstanding member in the government, and to his tragic death by a friend and enemy Aaron Burr. It is applicable for teens and young adults that find history, music, and drama fascinating in its combination. It can exemplify how history has repeated itself in today’s society. Though the concept of our Founding Fathers seems so far away, it still resonates with social constructed behaviors of men and women’s rights. Watching the show can allow one to realize how undeniable it is that we have developed significantly as a society.

Overall it is apparent that Hamilton was one of use, and his story involves the same struggles that can be individually relatable in today’s society. The impact of “Hamilton” can be altering of ones former perception of reliability in terms of historical figure representation today.. The show provides audiences with a new way of thinking that is closely related to race, culture, oppression, political change, and hierarchical influence. When I watched the show in New York City, I was truly stunned. It is visual and emotionally beautiful and truly embodies all of these topics that I have discussed. The women’s roles are powerful as well as the men, and the dynamic between the characters show a truthful representation of history and its impact on the year 1776. However, despite this being a show about historical figures, it is really a social commentary on the problems with our society, and how things can be changed and interpreted in a different lens.

Works Cited:

How ‘Hamilton’ changed my perspective on history

via Hamilton’s Impact on Culture — CCU Public History Fall 2018

The Untold Story of John W. Bolts (1861 – 1921) — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information.

by N. Valerie McLaurin

Who is John W. Bolts? If you’ve never heard of him, you’re in the same boat I was in when I first came to Coastal Carolina University. It was my first semester as a graduate student in the MALS program and I was doing an internship at the in-house student publishing lab, the Athenaeum Press, while they were wrapping up one of their amazing projects titled At Low Tide: Voices of Sandy Island.

If you’re not familiar, Sandy Island is an inland island surrounded by rivers and only accessible by boat in Georgetown, South Carolina on the Gullah Geechee Corridor. It was the home of rice plantations during slavery and the descendants of those enslaved people still have a community on the island to this day. The booklet contained a history of the island, where I first encountered the name John Bolts: “”…in both 1898 and 1900, former Sandy Islander school teacher John Bolts was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He would be the last African American in the South Carolina House of Representatives for the next seventy years.”

That last phrase got me particularly interested in Bolts’ life because I didn’t realize there was such an absurdly long gap in time between black men holding office in the South Carolina House of Representatives – John Bolts was elected for his final term in 1900 and it would take generations for that to happen again. For this reason, and other academic motivations involving grant writing research at the Athenaeum Press, I wanted to find out more about his life.

bolts 2
Image source: Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, 1901

When I did a literature review his name barely came up in Southern history scholarship. When it did come up, it was often a reference to an acclaimed book by George Brown Tindall from 1952, who wrote one sentence about Bolts describing him as: “an obscure figure who… did nothing during his term of office to cause any friction between the whites and blacks.” When I looked at the footnote for that reference, I realized Tindall was using an interview with one of Bolts’ white colleagues and it seemed to me that was likely a biased account. Also, Bolts’ life shouldn’t be remembered through the lens of a white colleague, but instead deserves rigorous primary research of its own.

I ended up writing my Master’s capstone thesis about my own investigation into the life of John W. Bolts. I can describe very briefly some of his accomplishments, but suffice to say, he was certainly a civil rights activist of his time and fighting against incredible odds serving as the only black member of the House and under the rule of open white supremacist, South Carolina Governor, and longtime Senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman.

Bolts was elected at a time when Jim Crow laws were beginning to grip the state in the form of forced segregation and black voter disenfranchisement. He served during a time of severe racial backlash to the successes of black political life during the Reconstruction period.

Despite all these odds, Bolts cared about things like education and labor rights and by going through the House Journals and newspapers I found records of his activism. He fought for public school funding and better labor contracts. When another representative proposed a bill that would give pensions to Confederate soldiers, he proposed an amendment arguing that the enslaved workers of Confederate soldiers should also be granted war pensions.

Many newspapers gave accounts of a lively debate on the House floor where he argued for the rights of black Georgetown fishermen that were under attack due to a proposed bill that would have limited their freedoms. His debate skills and witty retorts so flustered one of his white colleagues that the man yelled a racial slur at him and told him to sit down, but Bolts didn’t, and when the bill was voted he had persuaded his colleagues and they voted with him.

In his last term, Bolts cast the sole dissenting vote against Tillman for U.S. Senator – he was the only one to do so against his white colleagues – 107 to 1. It was surely an act of symbolic defiance.

I am still conducting my research, and there are many theoretical questions I would like to explore. For example, as South Carolinians, who do we memorialize and why? Why was a statue of Tillman, who incited racial violence and oversaw South Carolina’s highest rate of lynching while Governor, erected after his death on the SC Statehouse grounds and why does it stand there to this day?

Who else has been seemingly erased from our past, just like John W. Bolts? And how can we explain the long gap between Bolts’ last term in the house and the next black men elected in 1972? There are certainly many untold stories similar to that of John Bolts still out there waiting to be uncovered.

Sources:

Athenaeum Press. At Low Tide. Conway, SC: Coastal Carolina University, 2016.

Bryant, Lawrence C. Negro Lawmakers in the South Carolina Legislature 1868-1902. South Carolina State College, Orangeburg, SC, 1968.

Journal of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina. Columbia, SC: Charles A. Calvo, 1899 – 1902.

Tindall, George Brown. South Carolina Negroes 1877 – 1900. University of South Carolina Press: Columbia, 1952.

via The Untold Story of John W. Bolts (1861 – 1921) — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Is the Doctor a Public Historian? — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information.

By Kayla Griffin

For over 50 years, the Doctor has been gracing our television screens teaching us all about space and time travel, but what about history? You can always see the Doctor fighting aliens on another planet and even earth. But there are few episodes where he takes you back in time and gives you a proper history lesson.

When my father first told me to watch his favorite childhood show, I was skeptical because of how old it was. I’m pretty sure I watched it out of order because during the first episode I was very confused about what they were talking about and how they got into an ancient Mayan civilization. After rewatching the first ten minutes three times, I turned it off and forgot about Doctor Who for almost a year before one of my friends got me into the show again. The more episodes I watched the more historical references I saw. Whether it was dates, places, or even historical figures. Because how can you travel back in time and not talk about history. But, is the Doctor a public historian? Does he fit the criteria and make it onto the list?

One of the first episodes of Doctor Who that I watched and actually got into was when Winston Churchill was getting new weapons to fight the Nazi’s in World War II. The episode had the Doctor and one of his many companions, Amy Pond, help Winston Churchill and many military officials try to win the second World War. These new weapons were Daleks, aliens that have been trying for decades to kill the Doctor and eliminate the earth. Throughout the episode, I experienced what it was like to see what the war from the eyes of London generals.

My personal favorite episode that deals with aliens and history is when the Doctor and Amy travel to Amsterdam, Netherlands to visit Vincent Van Gogh. This episode shows Van Gogh painting Wheatfield with Crows and The Church at Auvers, we also get a glimpse of many of his other paintings as they are still drying. I saw how the townspeople treated Van Gogh and how they treated his marvelous paintings. An alien began killing the townspeople. They all immediately started pointing fingers at Van Gogh, because they actually believed he was a terrible person. The alien eating people obviously didn’t happen (but it could have) but it showed the hatred that these people had for Van Gogh.

To define a public historian: it is a person that is out on the field teaching history to people. Granted, the Doctor only has a few people with him at a time, the show’s audience is getting a first-hand tour. Yes, there are multiples movies that people can watch and get to experience but for the people that only watch sci-fi, this show definitely reaches an audience that most historical movies cannot reach. So, when the Doctor fights aliens and takes us on a journey to see history from a first-person point-of-view, not only is he saving the day, he’s being the perfect public historian.

via Is the Doctor a Public Historian? — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2 and Public History — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information.

By Lyle Ciardi

History is one subject that most people hit the snooze button on when it comes up in conversation. But the fact that history is boring is starting to change based on recent trends in video games. Digital developers are starting to see how implementing history in a game design has become a selling point for many franchises. Even this past summer Epic Games included historic figures such as Vikings and Samurais in the popular battle royal game Fortnite.

Obviously World War II has been popular with developers such as Treyarch and EA who put out titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield. Within the games the player can unlock outfits and weapons that pertain to the time period as well as the side of the war they are playing for (i.e. Allies/Axis powers). Developers are continuing to release World War II themed gamed as the entertainment community patiently awaits the release of Battlefield V at the end of this month.

In more recent news the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 has peaked interest in a time period that is not often recognized in popular culture let alone video games. The game itself takes place during 1899 at the turn of the century. It sets the scene on the heels of the “wild west,” and the end of the frontier era of Westward expansion. It is during this time that towns began to sprout up that are centered around industrial factories and used electricity. It is also during this time where locomotives are the primary means of long distance transport and the developers embedded the importance of railways into the games makeup. The story mode in Red Dead Redemption 2 follows outlaw Arthur Morgan and his gang of outlaws through a Western landscape where industrialization is beginning to phase out the age of the “cowboy.” The game itself is imbedded with historical facts dealing with the American Civil War, Indian rights, prohibition as well as women’s suffrage. Rockstar Games developed a landscape this is completely interactive.

Obviously, the setting of the Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place on a fictitious landscape that is modeled off the American frontier, which does not make the games historic accuracy completely credible. Yet on the other hand, the developers at Rockstar Games created a landscape to showcase elements of this period of time and packaged them in a way that is appealing to a wide variety of gamers. In the first weekend that Red Dead Redemption 2 was released, it set a record with over $725 million dollars in sales making it the largest entertainment release of all time.

With the shear size of Red Dead Redemption 2’s release, it is a safe assumption that history is still something that has a great amount of curbside appeal when it is packaged and presented in an appealing manner.  Overall, when looking at the bigger picture video games hold a valuable importance to the field of history and in a way they serve as a means of historical interaction that only heighten the interest of the players and make history a part of popular culture.

via Red Dead Redemption 2 and Public History — CCU Public History Fall 2018

Valley Forge: An American Treasure Worth Saving — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information.

By Gert Hynes

In September 2017, a hurricane evacuation from South Carolina took me to family in Pennsylvania. While there, in an attempt to use our time wisely, we visited Valley Forge National Park, which was a first for me. I was shocked and amazed at the size of this American treasure, and embarrassed that as a former “northerner” I’d never been there.  It covers nearly 3,500 acres and is a short 12 miles outside of Philadelphia.

As we explored the grounds, it was easy to understand why Washington chose this place for his headquarters.  It sits high upon a mountain overlooking the valley below – an excellent spot for surveillance of enemy maneuvers.  Approaching this amazing building, you get a sense of admiration, not only for the architectural integrity of the structure itself, but for the wisdom of the “Father of Our Country.”  Visitors are free to examine the rooms inside which include an office with a drop-leaf table where business was conducted, circa 1740, a simple but elegant bedroom for George and Martha Washington, complete with a mahogany and maple bed, circa 1770’s, and a second bedroom that served as an additional office or room for guests if needed.

Outside, visitors can wander into primitive soldier’s cabins, explore the nearly 30 miles of hiking trails or enjoy the manicured lawns.  We took advantage of a warm sunny afternoon with a picnic lunch.  Leashed pets are welcome, and my dog Henley enjoyed her time there as well.  The park has many educational opportunities in the form of an interactive walking tour with a Park Ranger, trolley tours, and tales of bravery, spies, and heroism given by professional and amateur “storytellers.”

In 1993, a monument to the “Patriots of African Descent” was erected at Valley Forge National Park in recognition for the African soldiers who fought with Washington at Valley Forge in 1777.  This “monumental” monument was sponsored by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Valley Forge Alumnae Chapter.

The park is also home to numerous wildlife species, including deer, foxes, Eastern cottontails, and even coyotes.  Birdwatchers have identified over 225 species of birds, including the bald eagle, osprey, and peregrine falcons.  The creeks abound with trout, bass, and catfish, and the meadows and forests attract not only butterflies, but a multitude of other insect species.

It all seems wonderful, however, nothing in this world is perfect, and amid the history and educational opportunities, problems also prevail.  In the late 1960’s a manufacturing company disposed of asbestos waste into sections of the Schuylkill River and quarries that became part of Valley Forge State Park.  After years of site clean-up, in March 2018 the National Park Service inspected the area and found it poses no risk to the ecology or humans, and tree replacement and site work was scheduled to be completed in late 2018. https://www.nps.gov/vafo/learn/management/asbestos.htm

Bridge and road construction projects have closed several park trails, one through 2020.  Mt. Joy, a “social” trail has developed a major problem involving erosion and damage to earthworks constructed by the Continental Army. Continuous hiking and steep hills have left much of the area vegetation unable to grow and soil is being washed away. Some sections of the trail intersect re-forested areas and allow invasive plants to eliminate natural rebirth of native plants. https://www.nps.gov/vafo/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

Climate change has also put this historical site at risk.  Recent intense storms have sharpened awareness of the damage flooding, wind-broken trees, and erosion can cause. https://www.nps.gov/vafo/getinvolved/climate-change.htm

I think we should take a hard look at the past to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes with our future.  The time is now to face the truths about climate change, pollution, and development, and the effects of abuse they’ve instilled in our country.  These are sacred lands that our forefathers laid their lives on the line to protect – it’s ou turn to recognize our obligations to deal with the salvation of our heritage.

Photo information: George Washington’s Headquarters at Valley Forge (1777-1778)

https://www.nps.gov/vafo/learn/historyculture/upload/Washington-s-Headquarters-Book.pdf

via Valley Forge: An American Treasure Worth Saving — CCU Public History Fall 2018

The Incredible Legacy of Historical Ancient Women: Where are they in film? — CCU Public History Fall 2018

This is part of a series of re-posts of student blogs from Coastal Carolina University’s Intro to Public History course in Fall 2018. Please visit the class website, https://ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com, for more information.

By Lindsey Perritt

A question that I have currently asked myself is where is the representation of women from the ancient history in modern day films? We see films like Gladiator, Alexander the Great, and Troy. The issue I encounter is the missing representation of powerful women that ruled and bravely campaigned for their kingdoms.

As an historian in training I have researched many incredible subjects of interest. My focus in history is women in ancient Egypt, and my favorite area of study is the life and legacy of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. My minor is women and gender studies (WGST) and I have learned so much in the last two years about powerful and influential women.

The women I search for in films are women that defied all the rules of the patriarchal system of their ancestors. Sure we have films like Elizabeth I or the new Mary Queen of Scotts (which personally I’m dying to see) but I feel that these films are produced simply because of the Tudor legacy that Henry VIII left behind. The scheming, the passion and of course the bloody executions have always intrigued the public and historians alike, myself included.

Women in films are always dependent on the male figures in their life, or have a romantic connection to a dashing male lead. What I am hoping for is a film that shows the biography of women such as Hatshepsut or Neferusobek, women who ruled powerful empires. Representation of women who set the foundation for a lasting legacy that historians, archeologists, and scholars alike scramble to understand and teach. Where are the proposals for a film of a woman who ruled a powerful empire? Where can the public discover such historical figures outside the classroom?

Whenever I discuss my major with the general public who inquiry what I study I say Hatshepsut’s name and I receive bewildered expressions. “Who?” they repeat and laugh, and I then proceed to rant and rave about an incredible, powerful woman in history. Public history has many intersectional aspects, and though films can be skewed or flawed, the impact is everlasting. Whenever I attend my ancient Rome classes, the Gladiator movie is constantly brought up and discussed. Whenever I speak of ancient Egypt I hear the consistently mentioned name of Tutankhamun. A whole three-day movie event premiered the television series for Tutankhamun, but he was merely a young man whose rule is only remembered by his intact tomb, not his actions or surviving building structures.

All I ask is for the acknowledgement of more women from the ancient world and to be remembered in a more public way.

via The Incredible Legacy of Historical Ancient Women: Where are they in film? — CCU Public History Fall 2018

AcWriMo2018 Results and Updates

DqTKz0pX0AIy4Q2.jpg-largeAt the end of October I set up (rather ambitious) goals to take part in AcWriMo2018 (Academic Writing Month). I was inspired by Katy Peplin, PhD who organized a bunch of us with the hashtag, slack channels, writing retreats, and more wonderful (FREE) resources. Check out her website at katiepeplin.com, or on twitter at @KatyPeplinCoach and @ThrivePhD for all kinds of great advice, coaching, support, and encouragement from grad school through to writing that manuscript. If it wasn’t for seeing her tweets and info about AcWriMo, I don’t think I would have done near as much as I did. That, combined with the support and checking in of friends and colleagues, digitally and through twitter, got me through the month with almost all of my goals completed!

Here are my goals, as stated November 1:

12 blogs- 6000 words
1 professional blog – 1000 words
Research notes – 250 words, 5 days a week (can roll over) – 5000 words
Book proposal – ? – submit by 30th
Statement for conference – 500 words
Co-authored article (maybe) – 5000 words – email with potential co-author on an outline/timeline for this
Total Words: Over 17,000

Here is what I completed:

10 blogs – 6433 words
1 professional blog – 806 words – Available here: https://www.mummystories.com/single-post/KatieStringerClary 
Research notes – 5321 words –  I am surprised I met this; and didn’t think I did until I just added them all up
Book proposal – 3493 – SUBMITTED TO SERIES EDITOR!!!!
Statement for conference: Instructions didn’t come through, but I did submit to 2 other conferences, and have another in the works!
Co-authored article – have some plans in the works, but no words to show for it really;
Bonuses: see details below – appx – 2500 words
Total: Over 18,533 words

Honestly, getting up to write this this morning I didn’t think I’d met all of my goals, and I still felt pretty good about myself. Now that I know I’ve done it (even if not in exactly the way I had planned) – how exciting!

601995_3f6bc50a97f74403b3104f3650174d54~mv2The big thing was the book proposal, and I’m so thankful to all of you who looked over it and made incredible comments and just let me bounce ideas off of you and think out-loud via text. More to come on that in the future.  I know blogs don’t really “count” for anything, but I made them a goal to get myself just writing words and typing things out and getting them out of my head; and it worked! They were also a great way to feel like I was accomplishing something when other projects were stalled. The submitted blog was originally going to be something completely different until I woke up one morning thinking about the incredible Mummy Stories project by Angela Stienne. It was so fun to research Neskhons, the mummy who started me down all these various paths, and I hope he manages to make his way into my book.  Research notes were the hardest part of the process, since I’m working through my outline and manuscript at the same time. I still read some great articles and got ideas out into a doc, so that is what is most important.

sourceThe Bonuses I got done worked out to be: 2 abstracts for presentations at a Death Conference, abstract for a chapter proposal submitted, proposal to museums conference submitted, kept caught up on grading, discussions and putting out feelers for an edited volume with an amazing group of women, making progress on a collective of death studies individuals working towards radicalized death studies, got Zotero all set up for the new project, posted all of my student blogs (check them out at www.ccupublichistory18.wordpress.com), and just generally keeping up with the holidays and end of the semester.

giphy-2So final thoughts on this: no way would I have gotten as much done as I did without community and support from friends and colleagues (shout out to Twitter, for real). Having people just text and say, “are you writing today? let’s do a pom,” or listening, or sharing stupid gifs made a word of distance. Second, actually writing out these goals  (and rewards, which I haven’t gotten around to yet – tragedy!) and making a planDUH. I tell my students this all the time, and finally got around to practicing it, and lo and behold it actually works. Third: keeping a chart and spreadsheet to calculate that these goals are happening, other things I did, reflecting on the practice. Like I said above, who knew I actually met these goals! My spreadsheet did, and now I do, too.

Now: to keep up the momentum and keep setting and sticking to my goals. Get it!

 

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Motor City Mayhem

This is the fourteenth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This is the second blog by student Dylan Livingston about museums in Detroit. 

By Dylan Livingston During this past summer, I traveled to Detroit, Michigan to visit my father and take a look into what he was working on for his job. Over the past year, my father was hired as the CEO of the Michigan State science center. One of my dad’s main objectives was to educate […]

via Motor City Mayhem — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: National History Day

This is the thirteenth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This is the second blog by student Tori Peck about National History Day. 

By Tori Peck What is National History Day? It is an event that is independently sponsored by organizations that will hold local and state competitions where elementary, middle school and secondary school students present historical research done on a predetermined topic. Around 3,000 students attend the final competition and they come from all around the […]

via National History Day — Journey into Public History

Fall 2017 Student Blog: Archaeology and Public History

This is the twelfth in a series of Tuesday re-blogs of my student work from our HIST395 course. Please enjoy these blogs written by Coastal Carolina University students.

This blog is by student Bryan Maldonado about Archaeology and Public History.

By Bryan Maldonado DIRT: Archaeology, Artifacts, Bones, and Organizations Archaeology is the study of ancient and recent human remains or material like artifacts in order to get more information about the past culture and the way of life. Artifacts are more than just a rare or ancient object they also tell archaeologist a story or […]

via DIRT: Archaeology, Artifacts, Bones, and Organizations — Journey into Public History