The Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research has revised its popular self-guided tour of Louisville’s civil rights history. The revamped tour includes new stops, a brochure with a pull-out walking map of downtown Louisville sites, and QR codes that can be read with a smartphone. By scanning QR codes, users can obtain additional historical information about particular sites.
The tour’s 22 stops include Freedom Park at the University of Louisville, the area of 4th Street in downtown Louisville where mass protests for open accommodations took place in 1961, Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Wade family home in Shively, which was dynamited in 1954 after being purchased by an African American family.
In addition to the revised tour, two other options for exploring Louisville’s civil rights history are available. An exhibit in the Louisville International Airport introduces the subject to visitors. It occupies the Pegasus Gallery through March 31.
A podcast entitled “Civil Rights History Tour” is available at http://www.gotolouisville.com/explore-louisville/multimedia/videos/lookin-louisville/civil-rights-history-tour/index.aspx. It features Dr. Cate Fosl, Director of the Anne Braden Institute, talking about stops on the tour and civil rights activity in Louisville.
The map for the self-directed tour is available online at http://anne-braden.org/civil-rights-driving-tour-map/. Hard copies can be picked up at the Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research on the second floor of Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville (room 258). Copies can also be obtained partner organizations, all of whom helped make the revised tour possible: the Muhammad Ali Center at 144 North 6th Street, the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage at 1701 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard, and the Louisville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau at 301 South Fourth Street.
The exhibit and podcast both feature tributes to Dr. Blaine Hudson, the long-serving dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the U of L. Dr. Hudson passed away last month after a long illness. A leading historian of African American history, Dr. Hudson played was instrumental in founding the Anne Braden Institute. The revised tour continues his interest in the African American freedom struggle in the Ohio River Valley.
Loaded Revolutionary War-era Cannon Found In Central Park.
“Digital history” is fast becoming a specialty unto itself. As historians increasingly rely on the internet for research, presenting information, and engaging audience, public historians are grappling with questions about the most effective options for its use. Although the U of L does not yet offer a specialized course in digital history, students are already exploring the field. One example are the final projects that students in Professor Daniel Vivian’s Introduction to Public History (HIST 597) produced during the fall 2012 semester. For the first time, students had the option of creating an online exhibit as a final project. (The alternative was a 20-page paper.) Using Omeka, a free, open-source software program developed by the Roy Rozenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, students created exhibits on topics of their choosing. The results are posted below.
We invite you to explore these exhibits and consider how they reflect traditional museums and historical methods. We also ask you think about the possibilities that the internet offers for presenting historical information. Commentators such as William Cronon, the distinguished environmental historian, have noted that the internet is changing the practice of history in ways not seen since the invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century. Online exhibits are part of this revolution. How to produce rich and challenging exhibits are questions that the generation of historians currently entering the field are likely to face for their entire careers.
As you’re browsing, please bear the following in mind. First, these are not necessarily polished pieces of work. They were completed during the fall semester, and most were finished during the typical rush that occurs as finals week approaches. Hence, typos, a few poor word choices, and other problems are to be expected. Some are close to being ready for prime time; others could use another round or two of revision. Second, some students intend to continue developing their exhibits. Zac Distel, for example, is just starting work on his thesis, a study of the State Department’s Art in Embassies program during the Cold War. As his work progresses, he intends to add new information to the exhibit. The same is true for Kim Kelly’s project. Hence, if you click back on this page several months from now, you’re likely to see a few changes.
Students who produced exhibits found the assignment challenging, engaging, and rewarding. From the professor’s standpoint, it sought to introduce several problems. One is the difficulty of developing an “open” narrative. Like any museum exhibit, an online exhibit presents narrative choices that differ from, and yet bear close similarities to, a written essay. Getting students to consider the nuances involved was an important goal. Second, curating an online exhibit requires many of the same decisions involved in creating a traditional, “three-dimensional” exhibit. What images will be used? Which objects? How much text is too much? These are all part of the process. Finally, simply introducing students to Omeka was valuable. This program is rapidly gaining favor among historical societies, historic sites, and museums. Its flexibility and content-management abilities make it a sound choice for many institutions. Moreover, it is certainly capable of producing good online exhibits. Familiarity with the software is an asset in today’s job market. The youngest people hired at any institution tend to be the most tech-savvy, and historical institutions tend to be especially reliant on new hires for such skills. For this reason, familiarizing students with Omeka and its capabilities was an important goal.
We hope you enjoy browsing these exhibits. They represent an important milestone for the students who produced them and the U of L Public History program.
Nicole Cissell. “The Underground Railroad in the Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio Borderland.”
Savannah Darr. “The Last Historic Residence in Downtown Louisville.”
Zac Distel. “Art of Democracy.”
Matt Holdzkom. “Circus Parade Wagons.”
Kim Kelley. “Nurse, Missionary, WWI Red Cross Nurse: Grace McBride.”
Whitney Todd. “Kentucky Women and the Lost Cause.” http://kentuckywomenlostcause.omeka.net/
Travis Wall. “Fort Donelson, Yesterday and Today.” http://ftdonelsonyesterdayandtoday.omeka.net/
Marissa Williams. “The Family Packrat: What Can You Learn From All That Stuff?”
Great news about an important new collection: http://louisville.edu/uofltoday/campus-news/former-poet-laureate-lee-pennington-gives-papers-to-special-collections
It’s been a while since we’ve posted here, which says plenty about how busy the fall semester has been. Fortunately, a new exhibit at the Frazier History Museum is reason enough to break the drought. Curated by Critical and Curatorial Studies M.A. candidate Wesley Spencer, it explores the history of Bittners, a Louisville-based design firm. For more information, read on.
“Top Drawer: 150 Years of Bittners”
A new exhibit at the Fazier History Museum explores craftsmanship and design through the work of Bittner’s, a Louisville design firm. “Top Drawer: 150 Years of Bittners,” opens November 17 and runs through January 1.
The 4,000 square foot exhibition includes exquisite American, English and Continental furniture inspired by great monarchs and makers, as well as the story of how the political, cultural and social forces of these periods have inspired the aesthetic of our homes.
“Top Drawer” features furniture from the Empire, Regency, Biedermeier and Victorian periods and a variety of makers and styles– including Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton and even pieces as recent as Mid-Century Modern. The exhibition aims to explain the national significance of Bittners, a Louisville-based design firm, while giving visitors an understanding of how interior design is affected by the larger historical and societal context in which it is created.
The exhibition details the Bittners timeline, which begins in 1854 when German immigrant Gustav Bittner founded a custom cabinet shop. Since then, Bittners has become not only a Louisville tradition, but nationally-renowned as well. “Top Drawer” seeks to engender an appreciation of the firm that still handcrafts furniture with the same techniques and materials that were used 300 years ago.
Museum guests will have the opportunity to examine fine antiques from around the world, as well as master-crafted pieces produced by the Bittners custom shop, including beds, desks, secretaries, chairs, sideboards, high boys and tables. Visitors may examine pieces on loan from the private collections of many notable Louisvillians, including the late Owsley Brown Frazier, Laura Frazier, Catherine Joy, Jonathan and Tracy Blue, Milton Cooper and Mary Nash, as well as from Cave Hill Cemetery.
“Top Drawer” is included in regular museum admission, which is $10.50 for adults (15-59), $9.50 for military, $8.50 for seniors, $6 for children (5-14) and free for children 4 and under. For an additional fee, guests may also see “Diana: A Celebration,” a 7,500 square feet, Museum operating hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended hours on Wednesday until 8 p.m. For more information, visit FrazierMuseum.org.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM
The Frazier History Museum, located on Louisville’s “Museum Row,” has the distinction of being the only place in the world outside Great Britain to permanently house and display Royal Armouries artifacts. This world-class museum provides a journey through more than 1,000 years of world and American history with ever-changing and interactive exhibits, daily performances by costumed interpreters and engaging special events and programs.
Great news for everyone working on local history topics!
This promises to be a great event. Please attend if you can!
The first National Register of Historic Places nomination produced by the Public History program has just been officially listed. During the spring 2011 semester, public history certificate student Annelise Gray began studying Jefferson Jacob School, a Rosenwald school building in Propsect, Kentucky. Annelise’s work grew out of History 621, Introduction to Historic Preservation. She prepared the major components of a National Register nomination for the class and continued working on the project in the following months. She subsequently submitted the nomination to the Kentucky Heritage Council. Just this week, Annelise received word that the property was officially listed on August 6. Congratulations, Annelise! This is a major accomplishment for her, and a great step for the public history program.
Jefferson Jacob School is a Rosenwald School building in Prospect, Kentucky. Rosenwald schools were built across the South during the era of segregation. Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears Roebuck and Company, established the Julius Rosendwald Foundation in 1917. One of the causes he supported was schooling for African Americans in the South. The Rosenwald Fund provided funds for construction; local communities donated land and labor and matched the Fund’s contributions. Ultimately, the program built more than 5,000 schools in fifteen states.
In recent years, Rosenwald schools have become a focus of preservation efforts across the South. As these buildings have suffered from neglect and vandalism, communities have responded by raising funds and finding new uses. The Jefferson Jacob School has been little-used for some time. With its new status as a National Register-listed property, we hope that it will receive the attention it deserves.