Virtual Historic Site Impressions: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

December 16, 2021

Thank you to all of those who responded to the poll I released a few weeks ago. The site with the most votes was the Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. I plan to write about the other sites in the future and I released another poll to ask all of you which one you want to read about next. In the meantime, I will share with you all my experience visiting this Scottish castle.

    Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe and was used as a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and a fortress. Parts of it remain in military use while the rest of it is now a popular world-wide visitor attraction.

    When I made a virtual visit to the Edinburgh Castle, I was surprised to discover that it was more than one large castle; there were also a chapel, a whiskey shop, tea rooms, et. cetera.  Before I even entered the castle, I was already impressed with the architecture and the details that were on and inside. I decided to do a general walk around the castle with no specific plan and share some of the highlights from my visit.

         I made my virtual walk around the area and noticed a small chapel known as St. Margaret’s Chapel. St. Margaret Chapel was named for Queen Margaret who was later made a saint. When Queen Margaret died in 1093, the chapel was built in her honor by her son, King David I. It is Edinburgh’s oldest building. St Margaret’s Chapel still hosts weddings and christenings today. Close to the chapel is the Portcullis Gate.

St. Margaret’s Chapel (oldest building in the castle)

     Portcullis Gate was built almost 450 years ago in the wake of the devastating Lang Siege that took place in 1571 when supporters of Queen Mary held the castle against the rule of the regent the Earl of Lennox (who supported the then infant King James VI). The Gate was erected by the Regent Morton in 1574.  The building contains a long-vaulted trance, once furnished with two outer double doors, a portcullis and an inner double door that once sat alongside the iron gate to ward off intruders. The top floor, Argyle Tower, was added in the 1880s.

Portcullis Gate

        During my visit, I came across The Redcoat Café which offers a variety of things to eat and drink including but not limited to soups, roasts, toasted deli sandwiches, beer, wine, spirits, hot beverages, and soft drinks. I also went by the Tea Rooms located at the top of the castle in the Crown Square; they offer traditional afternoon tea as well as light lunch (soup, salad, sandwiches), cakes, hot cocoa, coffee, spirits, wine, beer, and ale. Next to St. Margaret’s Chapel is the Whisky Shop where visitors can purchase whisky that was created in collaboration with the award-winning Edinburgh Gin distillery. They have a huge range of whiskies including their exclusive Edinburgh Castle 10-year-old single malt, and sweet and savory treats including traditional shortbread, whisky fudge, and cakes.  In addition to exploring the castle on my own, I also visited Edinburgh Castle’s website to learn more about it.

The Redcoat Café

        Edinburgh Castle was built upon a rock for a military strategic advantage during the Iron Age, and their defenses evolved over hundreds of years. For instance, Mons Meg, one of the greatest medieval cannons ever made, was given to King James II in 1457. The Half Moon Battery, which was built in the aftermath of the Lang Siege of 1573, was armed for 200 years by bronze guns known as the Seven Sisters. Six more guns defend the Argyle Battery, with its open outlook to the north.

          In addition to serving as a military fort, Edinburgh Castle was also a royal residence. The Great Hall, that was completed in 1511 for King James IV, hosted grand banquets and state events. But the king had little time to enjoy his new addition. James IV died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, fighting English forces sent by his brother-in-law, King Henry VIII of England. According to their website, they pointed out that above the door to the Royal Palace are the gilded initials MAH – for Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. Mary gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566 who would become king of Scotland at 13 months old and united the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603. After the ‘Union of the Crowns’ of 1603, Edinburgh Castle was rarely visited by the reigning monarch, but from the 1650s it grew into a significant military base. Defenses were rebuilt and enhanced in response to the Jacobite Risings of 1689–1746. New gun batteries such as Dury’s Battery were constructed and new barracks such as the Queen Anne Building were added to house the many soldiers and officers. To learn more about Edinburgh Castle, I included a list of resources below.            

       Their website includes a number of resources to help people plan their visit, COVID restrictions, the history of the castle, et. cetera. I appreciate that they have a list of suggested itineraries based on interest and the amount of time one has to visit Edinburgh Castle. I would like to someday visit the castle in person as well, and in the meantime, I will make numerous virtual trips to keep exploring the many places within the castle.

The second poll to choose the next historic site is active. To decide which historic site you want to learn more about, click on the link here: https://wp.me/p8J8yQ-1xi

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

Links:

Edinburgh Castle website: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/

Edinburgh Castle Virtual Tour with Us blog post: https://blog.edinburghcastle.scot/virtual-tour-with-us/

Virtual Edinburgh Castle: https://www.google.com/maps/@55.9485358,-3.1984482,3a,75y,272.57h,110.04t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sK8bujNmtCtGOcDq8H1KZng!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

https://canmore.org.uk/site/52093/edinburgh-castle-portcullis-gate-and-argyle-tower

http://www.edinburgh-history.co.uk/lang-siege.html

Poll: What is the Second Historic Site You Would Like to Read About?

December 9, 2021

In the first poll, the one with the most votes was Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. My experience with the virtual visit will come out next week so stay tuned. In the meantime, please choose the next historic site you would want to learn more about.

What is Witchcraft? Taking a Closer Look at the History of Witchcraft

November 11, 2021

          Since we recently celebrated Halloween, I thought I would share a short introduction to the history of witchcraft. When we talk about witchcraft, the first things that come to mind are movies and T.V. shows that depict witchcraft, Halloween decorations and costumes, the Salem Witch Trials, et. cetera. It is important to acknowledge that witchcraft history can be found around the world not just in Europe and Colonial New England. Witchcraft looks different for each culture, and therefore not one definition describes what is witchcraft. There are many definitions of witchcraft and witches used by historians in the past and now. Ronald Hutton in his book The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present shared a number of definitions past historians have shared. For instance, Hutton stated that a witch is “…any person who uses magic (although those who employ it for beneficial purposes are often popularly distinguished as ‘good’ or ‘white’ witches); or as the practitioner of a particular kind of nature-based Pagan religion…”. He wrote this book as a contribution towards the understanding of the beliefs concerning witchcraft, and the resulting notorious trials of alleged witches, in early modern Europe. Hutton’s The Witch also described witchcraft history found outside of the United States and Europe. I will go into more depth about witchcraft history in future blog posts, and if there is something you would like to know more about, please let me know. In the meantime, I will introduce the history of witchcraft on Long Island.

While one of the most well-known witchcraft cases took place in Salem, Massachusetts, there have been witch trials in New York and even one that was decades before the Salem Witch Trials. In 1658, a woman named Elizabeth “Goody” Garlick in East Hampton, New York was accused of witchcraft but was spared the same fate accused people faced in Salem. After the East Hampton magistrates collected the evidence, they decided to refer the case to the higher courts in Hartford, Connecticut (Long Island was four years shy from becoming a part of the Connecticut colony at the time; it was not until 1664 when it became a part of New York colony). While witchcraft was a capital offense at the time, John Winthrop, Jr.’s court rendered a non-guilty verdict for Goody Garlick. John Winthrop, Jr., the son of the co-founder of the Massachusetts Bay colony, was made the Governor of the Hartford colony and was one of the few people that were skeptical of magic particularly common people having the capabilities to practice magic; part of his skepticism was inspired by his background as a scholar whose research pursued finding explanations for magical forces influencing the world around them. In addition to learning about witchcraft in New York, I also previously did some research on modern witchcraft history and the pagan origins of Halloween.

Some witches and pagans (or Neo-Pagans) celebrate Samhain (“saah-win”), an ancient Gaelic festival that marks the time of year when seasons change, and many believe the boundary between the world and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. Samhain is known to be Halloween’s earliest root.  Early celebrations of Samhain involved a lot of ritualistic ceremonies to connect to spirits including celebrating in costumes (using animal skins) as a disguise themselves against ghosts, special feasts, built bonfires and made lanterns by hollowing out gourds. To learn more about the history of Halloween, I wrote about Halloween’s origins in the post “The History of Halloween and How Museums Celebrate” and I have included it in the links section below.

I included more links about witchcraft on Long Island if you would like to read more about this part of history. If you want to read more blog posts about witchcraft history, please let me know.

Links:

The History of Halloween and How Museums Celebrate

Hutton, Ronald. The Witch: A History of Fear, From Ancient Times to the Present, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017.

https://history.hanover.edu/texts/nyhah.html

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/before-salem-there-was-the-not-so-wicked-witch-of-the-hamptons-95603019/

http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/LI/WitchesofLongIsland.html

https://bronx.news12.com/beyond-the-broomstick-witches-on-long-island-36714763

My Thoughts on a Coming Soon Museum: Museum of Broadway

October 7, 2021

        I found out a little while ago that a new museum is coming to New York City next year called the Museum of Broadway. Broadway World made an announcement stating the Museum of Broadway will open in the summer of 2022. It surprised me that there has not been a museum focused on the history of Broadway before now. During the past few years I have lived in New York, I attended some Broadway shows in these historic theaters and had wondered about the history of the theater as well as the history of Broadway in general. I am glad to hear that there will be a new museum dedicated to Broadway’s history. I have loved both history and musicals for as long as I can remember, and I would be interested to see what they do with the history of Broadway.

According to Broadway World, the interactive and immersive experience the Museum of Broadway, founded by entrepreneur and four-time Tony Award nominated producer Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti (founder of the award-winning experiential agency Rubik Marketing), offers guests a unique look at the rich history of Broadway, a sneak peek behind-the-scenes, and a change to personally engage with the “Game-Changing” shows that redefined Broadway forever. They also provided a brief description of what the experience would be like when it is open to the public. In their article, they stated that

At the heart of the experience, guests will travel through a visual history of Broadway from its birth to the present day highlighting theater’s pioneers, landmark moments of social change, and many of the most beloved plays and musicals of all time. Key points along the timeline will focus on the pivotal shows that transformed the landscape of Broadway, through immersive installations designed by leading contemporary visual artists and acclaimed Broadway designers. Fans will also go backstage to get a taste of “The Making of a Broadway Show,” with a special exhibit honoring the community of brilliantly talented professionals – both onstage and off – who bring Broadway plays and musicals to life every night.

It sounds like it would be a fun experience as well as an educational one. As a museum educational professional, I do wonder what their educational side of their museum operations would be like. When I visited their website, there was no mention of what they plan for school programs. I could see the programs focused on history and music including looking at the historical context of musicals.

I look forward to finding out more as it gets closer to opening day. What do you think of this new museum?

Links:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Museum-of-Broadway-Will-Open-in-Times-Square-in-Summer-2022-20210816

https://www.themuseumofbroadway.com/

Looking for your Next Podcast to Listen to? Check out this List of Podcasts on Museums and Public History

September 16, 2021

        In recent years, I started listening to more podcasts and I decided to share a list of podcasts about museums and public history on this website I have either been familiar with over the years as a museum professional, come across for this post, or have been shared with me to share on this website. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list, and that they are in no particular order. If there are ones that you do not see on this list and think they should be on this list, please contact me and let me know.

The following are podcasts discussing museums and what is going on in the museum field:

  1. Museopunks

Every month, Suse Anderson investigates the fascinating work and personalities in and around the museum sector. The hosts explore some of the sector’s most stimulating questions, institutions, and practices, with a focus on emergent, boundary-pushing work and ideas.

2. For Arts’ Sake

For Arts’ Sake podcast help people discover the difference museums can make to their lives by sharing real-life stories of leading museum professionals and professionals within the heritage sector across the UK.

3. Museums in Strange Places

Hannah Hethmon is the host of this podcast and in each episode they visit a different museum to discover its stories, discuss challenges and triumphs with fascinating museum professionals (and volunteers), and get to know each season’s country, state, or region through it museums.

4. Museum Confidential

Museum Confidential is a behind-the-scenes look at museums hosted by Jeff Martin. The show is a co-production of Philbrook Museum of Art and Public Radio Tulsa. There are new episodes every two weeks.

5. Museum People

Museum People is a NEMA-produced (New England Museum Association) podcast that celebrates individuals connected with the museum field by highlighting their work, passions, opinions, and personalities. In each episode, you’ll hear stories and viewpoints from a variety of museum people, from unsung workers to executive directors, volunteers to trustees, as they help change the world one visitor at a time.

6. Queering the Museum

Queering the Museum is an ongoing coordinated intervention into representations of LGBT/Q* people in museums. Their goal is for QTM to facilitate critical dialogues between community members and museum practitioners, addressing the role that museums play in forming social norms around gender and sexuality. They focus on museums due to their ability to shape and define the communities in which we live. QTM believes that museums have a responsibility to account for the role played in constructing normalized ideas of race, gender, and sexuality.

The following are podcasts discussing various topics in history and about public history:

  1. HistoryExtra

HistoryExtra, the official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed, has podcast episodes featuring interviews with notable historians on topics spanning ancient history through to recent British to American history. Episodes feature perspectives on everything from crusading knights to Tudor monarchs and the D-Day landings.

2. Malcolm Gladwell Revisionist History

Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.

3. American Revolution Podcast

American Revolution Podcast is a weekly podcast that explores the events of the American Revolution, from beginning to end. They also have a blog that posts pictures, maps, and links to more information for each week’s episode. The link to the blog can be found here: https://blog.amrevpodcast.com

4. Ben Franklin’s World

Hosted by Liz Covert, this podcast is for people who love history and want to know more about the early American past.

5. A History of the World in 100 Objects

In this podcast, the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programs that retell humanity’s history through the objects we have made.

6. BackStory

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly, and Joanne Freeman. They are based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. Each week BackStory takes a topic that people are talking about and explores it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversations with our listeners, BackStory makes history engaging and fun.

7. National Leprechaun Museum’s Talking Stories  

Talking Stories is a podcast of stories, folklore, mythology, and chat from the Storytellers at the National Leprechaun Museum, on the 1st and 15th of every month. The National Leprechaun Museum is the first ever attraction dedicated to Irish mythology, and it opens up a fun and magical world full of fascinating folklore, mythology, and enchanting stories.

Visit the Contacts page and let me know if there are other podcasts that I should check out that are not on this list.

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

How to Remember 9/11: List of Things Museums Are Doing to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary

September 9, 2021

It has been 20 years since the attack on the World Trade Center, and I am still wrapping my head around that fact because I remember where I was when it happened and learning about the many lives that were lost that day. I wrote about my experience in a separate previous post that can be found below.  To figure out how to commemorate the 20th anniversary, I did some research to pull together a list of what museums are doing and what they are encouraging visitors to do to plan their own commemoration. The following is the list from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Museum of the City of New York:

9/11 Memorial & Museum

  1. Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light is a commemorative public art installation that was first presented six months after 9/11 and then every year thereafter, from dusk to dawn, on the night of September 11. Over the years, it has become an iconic symbol that both honors those killed and celebrates the unbreakable spirit of New York.

2. 20th Anniversary Commemoration

In the annual commemoration ceremony, family members of 9/11 victims will gather on the Memorial plaza to read aloud the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

3. The Never Forget Fund

The Never Forget Fund was set up to support the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s efforts to ensure future generations never forget the lessons of 9/11.Twenty years after the attacks that changed our world forever, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum serves as a reminder that in the face of adversity and unfathomable loss of life, our capacity for hope and potential for resilience will see us through.

4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum Anniversary in the School Webinar

Teachers and other educators have the opportunity to incorporate the lessons about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center by participating in an early access to the webinar, and having students watch the webinar and interact with the museum educators through a live chat on a virtual platform to learn about the attacks. Pre- and Post-Webinar activities are available to download. Learn more by clicking on the page here: https://www.911memorial.org/learn/students-and-teachers/anniversary-schools-webinar

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum have also compiled a list of ways one can plan their own observance. Below are the elements the Museum suggests considering when planning a 9/11 anniversary observance, and more details are available on their website.

  1. Observe Moments of Silence

Observe a moment of silence on September 11 at any or all of the times marking key moments on 9/11. Every year, the moments below are observed as part of the official 9/11 anniversary commemoration ceremony held at the World Trade Center for victims’ families.

2. Community Commemoration Assets

To help fulfill its mission never to forget, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is happy to provide media assets for your September 11 commemoration ceremony or event. Whether organizing a remembrance ceremony for your town, your workplace, or your community, you can complete the form below to receive access to archival or present-day Memorial photographs.

3. Toll Bells

Toll bells on September 11 at 8:46 a.m. or at each of the times the attacks occurred that morning.

4. Read the Names of the Victims Aloud

The names of the men, women, and children killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks have been read aloud at the official 9/11 anniversary commemoration in New York City every year. This list of names inscribed on the 9/11 Memorial includes all those killed in the 9/11 attacks and the six individuals killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

5. Lower Flags in Remembrance

Lower flags to half-staff on the anniversary of 9/11. Flags may be lowered at 8:46 a.m. to mark the moment when Flight 11 struck the North Tower.

More information is available on the 20th anniversary page of the Museum’s website.

Museum of the City of New York

  1. Twenty Years Later: Remembering 9/11 Through Documentary Film

MCNY is offering an opportunity to watch the documentary about remembering 9/11 twenty years after it happened. Click on the link to learn more: https://www.mcny.org/event/twenty-years-later-remembering-911-through-documentary-film

Links:

Remembering 9/11: 18 years later

Plan Your Own Observance

9/11 Memorial & Museum Twenty Years Later

Virtual Museum Impressions: Fort Ticonderoga, New York

September 2, 2021

        As the summer is winding down, I decided to take another virtual trip and I chose to visit Fort Ticonderoga located in Ticonderoga, New York. Fort Ticonderoga exists today to preserve, educate and provoke active discussion about the past and its importance to present and future generations; and they work on fostering an on-going dialogue surrounding citizens, soldiers, and nations through America’s military heritage. It preserves 2,000 acres of historic landscape on Lake Champlain, and Carillon Battlefield, and has the largest series of untouched Revolutionary War era earthworks surviving in America.

The first thing I did was I joined the History Camp America tour of Fort Ticonderoga led by Stuart Lilie, the Vice President of Public History at Fort Ticonderoga. Since I was a participant in the virtual History Camp America conference, I had access to this tour and was able to revisit the tour if I chose to do so. Lilie started the tour by providing an introduction to the history of Fort Ticonderoga. According to Lilie, the word Ticonderoga comes from the Mohawk word that means a place between the waters. Fort Ticonderoga sits between Lake George and Lake Champlain; specifically, he was standing where Lake George drains north into the LaChute River and the waterfalls drop two hundred and twenty feet into Lake Champlain.

Fort Ticonderoga was originally known as Fort Carillon when the French used the fort as a defense against British invasion during the Seven Years War (it was also called the French and Indian War). It was renamed Fort Ticonderoga after the British blew it up and General Lampert renamed the ruins Fort Ticonderoga then began the reconstruction. During the American Revolution, Ethan Allen, and his band of Green Mountain Boys, accompanied by Benedict Arnold, who held a commission from Massachusetts, attacked the British stationed there and took over the Fort on May 10, 1775. The British later recaptured Fort Ticonderoga and later abandoned it after the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781. Fort Ticonderoga became a site for tours beginning in 1909.

        Lilie continued the virtual tour by showing viewers around Fort Ticonderoga to demonstrate what they do with visitors each day they are open. For instance, he had a discussion with reenactors about tailoring soldiers’ uniforms. He also had discussions with reenactors about shoemaking and gardening. Participants were also able to see some of the artifacts from the vast collection at Fort Ticonderoga. It was really cool to see inside the Thompson Pell Research Center where they hold their collections and view artifacts that they catalogued and stored most of their artifacts and documents to give us an idea of warfare at Fort Ticonderoga. Some artifacts include but are not limited to rare books which document the art of war and military science published in Europe and North America, textiles (i.e., camp flag of Loyalist-colonists on the side of the British-group), fine art, shovels, axes, ceramics from England, France, and China, wine bottle fragments, shoe buckles, over 2,000 decorative buttons, and pipe fragments. We also were able to see the Carion battlefield which the Fort Ticonderoga staff today preserve the long history of where the battles took place. Once I finished this virtual tour, I visited their Center of Digital History on their website.

At the Center of Digital History, I was able to see virtual exhibitions, their online collections database, and explored their YouTube channel which offers options for at home activities and an in-depth look into the collections and discussions. The virtual exhibitions include a sample of artifacts that are included in the in-person exhibitions and background information about the exhibits. Some of the virtual exhibitions include but are not limited to A Patriotic Service: Sarah Pell’s Enduring Legacy which focuses on Sarah Gibbs Thompson Pell who devoted her life to advancing the rights of women through historic preservation and political action; Object Lessons: Perspectives on Material Culture; Iron and Stone: Building Fort Carillon which focuses on the construction of Fort Carillon; and Ticonderoga, A Legacy. While I appreciated learning a little bit of Fort Ticonderoga history in each of the exhibitions, I would have liked to explore more of the exhibit in a virtual space.

         In addition to the virtual experience, Fort Ticonderoga offers programs, historic interpretation, boat cruises, tours, demonstrations, and exhibits throughout the year; they are open to the public May through October. I would like to at some point visit Fort Ticonderoga to see more of what they have to offer in person.

Have you been to Fort Ticonderoga before? If you have, please let me know what your experience was like.

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

Reminder: The poll is still active. If you have not answered the poll, check it out here: https://wp.me/p8J8yQ-1tk

Links:

https://www.fortticonderoga.org/

https://www.fortticonderoga.org/learn-and-explore/center-for-digital-history/

https://www.historycamp.org/

History Camp America: A Public Historian’s Experience during Virtual History Conference

July 29, 2021

History Camp America platform

        Earlier this month I attended History Camp America, which was their first national History Camp virtual conference. It is produced by The Pursuit of History, a non-profit organization that engages adults in conversation about history and connects them with historic sites in their communities, and across the country through innovative in-person and online programming. There were more than 45 sessions that included but were not limited to presentations, historic site tours, history walks, culinary history demonstrations, trivia, and yoga. According to their website, this conference is designed to be a casual conference for adults, teenagers and children that are students, teachers, professors, authors, bloggers, reenactors, interpreters, museum and historical society directors and board members, genealogists, and everyone else, regardless of profession or degree, who is interested in and wants to learn more about history.

         Like previous virtual conferences, they were hosted on platforms designed to run their conferences; History Camp used the event automation Pheedloop which made organizing conferences, meetings, and trade shows easy with event management software that powers everything from mobile apps, registration, touch-free check-in, and live streaming, to floor plans, sponsors, badge printing, and networking since 2015. I decided to attend History Camp this year after I discovered their website because I wanted to learn what a conference that is not hosted by a museum association would be like to experience. I also wanted to participate in something that appeals to my interested in history and that is different from professional development programs I have attended in the past.  It is also important for history and museum professionals in the field to see how people are currently studying history and how they are interpreting history since the history and museum field are discussing the 250th commemoration of American Independence and a part of the discussion about the commemoration is to work on helping the people learn how to do history, in other words how to do their own historical research of the communities they live in. The following are a sample of sessions I attended during History Camp America.

        One of the sessions I attended was Saunkskwa, Sachem, Minister: native kinship and settler church kinship in 17th and 18th-century New England led by Lori Rogers-Stokes, an independent scholar of 17th-century New England and the author of Records of Trial from Thomas Shepard’s Church in Cambridge, 1683-1649: Heroic Souls (published by Palgrave Macmillan). Rogers-Stokes shared her work in process research by discussing the political records and Congregational church records from 17th-century Massachusetts. Her presentation focused on sharing the similarities and differences she found on how the Algonquin people and English colonists defined and valued kinship; she revealed that, according to her research, the puritan church defined kinship in a similar way to indigenous kinship which led her to believe there was a potential connection that could have been a fruitful common ground for cooperation and respect but was unfortunately lost.  I thought the content was interesting and I chose to attend this session because I wanted to expand my knowledge on indigenous history; while the session focused on comparing the Algonquin people and English colonists views on kinship, it is an introduction to the Algonquin culture and history. I look forward to hearing about her completed work on this research.

         Once that session was complete, I moved on to a short spotlight session introducing The Daily Bellringer created by Jared Bruening. The Daily Bellringer provides short video overviews of U.S. History topics, and they are designed to be used for grades 5-12 as warm-ups, reviews, or introductions to content. I will go more in depth about The Daily Bellringer in a future post. This was not the only spotlight that occurred during History Camp America.

         There was also a spotlight on History Dame created by Larisa Moran who is a history blogger and creator of History In Under A Minute©. History In Under A Minute is a series on YouTube that discusses a variety of topics in history in less than a minute.  She is also a volunteer with The Pursuit of History and regional editor for The History List, the platform historical societies, historic sites, and other organizations use to attract and engage visitors and members through things including but not limited to listings of programs and exhibits, and resources for organizations of all sizes that provide research, tool, and insight to support history programming across the country. I will also explore more of History Dame in a future post.

        Another session I attended was “Thrown into the pits”: how were the bodies of the nineteen hanged Salem “witches” really treated? and the speaker was Marilynne K. Roach, author of The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, and Six Women of Salem. She is a member of the Gallows Hill Group that verified the location of the hangings, a discovery Archaeology magazine hailed as one of 2016’s top ten discoveries in the world. Roach discussed her experience taking a closer look at the court records that may disprove assumptions of what happened to the bodies of those hung during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. I thought this was an important session to attend not only because of my interest in Salem’s history but this is an example of why historical research is significant. Popular accounts starting with 19th century historian Charles Upham’s statement that the deceased were “undoubtedly all thrown into pits dug among the rocks” were usually based in available resources or lack thereof, and when records are discovered the interpretation begins to change to reflect what the primary sources state about moments in history such as the Salem Witch Trials.

       During lunch, there was a demonstration and a short session that focus on the history of food. In this demonstration, Chef Justin Cherry cooked a recipe for crab cake in Dressed Crab – An Early American Favorite and participants had access to the recipe so they could follow along making their own crab cake. Chef Justin Cherry is the Chef/Owner of Half Crown Bakehouse which is a mobile 18th-century clay oven that specializes in colonial foodways. The recipe he used during the demonstration came from a manuscript written by Anne Chase in 1811; Anne Chase was the daughter of Samuel Chase, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I thought it was interesting since not only participants learn more about history, but they can also prepare their own crab cakes as they watch. To my memory, I have not participated in a demonstration like this one before.

      In the next demonstration, Sarah Lohman shared photographs and discussed the history of soda fountains in Soda Fountain Favorites. Sarah Lohman is a culinary historian and the author of the bestselling book Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, and she focuses on the history of food as a way to access the stories of diverse Americans. She focused her presentation on food history in New York and provided recipes of the classic sodas she talked about so participants can make them at home. Lohman shared stories behind some of the favorite fountain drinks including the egg cream and the popularity of seltzer, Dr. Brown’s Soda (specifically Cel-Ray), the Lime Rickey, and the Purple Cow. During the session, I recalled the first time I tried an egg cream when I first visited my then boyfriend (now husband) on Long Island.

        After attending the sessions live, I decided to take advantage of the recorded sessions so I can revisit the sessions and listen to other sessions that I did not attend on the day of the conference. I included a pdf file of the itinerary History Camp released to provide an idea of topics that were discussed, tours given, and demonstrations performed. I will also elaborate in future posts about other sessions I attended and tours of historic sites I participated in.

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

Links:

A Public Historian Explores History Camp

History Camp

Pheedloop

The History List

History Camp America Session Schedule

Pride Month and the Museum Field: Museums Interpret and Share LGBTIQ+ History

June 17, 2021

We should remember why we celebrate Pride Month and museums especially have the responsibility for educating the public about LGBTIQ+ history that has long been neglected to be told. June is LGBTIQ+ Pride Month which honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan as it was the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. Stonewall Inn was one of the most popular gay bars in New York City back in 1969, and until 1966 it was illegal to serve alcohol to a gay person in New York State. Throughout the United States, police raids on gay bars and spaces during this time. The purpose of Pride Month as a commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

        In more recent years we celebrate by having pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTIQ+ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Pride Month last year and this year has been different due to the pandemic. Last year, the museum field honored Pride Month on the virtual platform.  Hilary-Morgan Watt (the Digital Engagement Manager for the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden) and Emily Haight (the Social Media Manager at the New-York Historical Society) wrote a short post for the American Alliance of Museums’ blog to advertise the #MuseumPrideParade on Twitter encouraging museums and museum professionals to share items in their museums’ collections relevant to LGBTIQ+ history. According to the authors, the campaign they created at the time of their post was the third global campaign organized by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the New-York Historical Society during the pandemic, following #MuseumBouquet and #MuseumSunshine. Watt and Haight pointed out that:

We decided Pride was the right opportunity for a third campaign, to help museums   celebrate in place of the exhibits, film screenings, programs, and parade-marching many would normally be participating in. How do you participate? It’s simple—showcase images from Pride marches and other LGBTQIA+ protests throughout history, or other objects and stories from LGBTQ history, using the #MuseumPrideParade hashtag, and choose another institution to tag as your virtual marching partner.

For example: We’re sharing [object] for the #MuseumPrideParade and marching with [@institution].

The Museum Pride Parade took place last year on June 10th at 11am on Twitter.

        While we are still going through this pandemic, we still honor Pride Month and each museum does so in varying ways depending on if they are planning to have events and programs in person, virtually, or hybrid. I included links to various events and programs museums are doing for Pride Month in the list below to show what is happening. Also, I included a couple of links from last year’s Pride Month in the list.

        A lot of the programs and events especially in museums aim to educate participants in LGBTIQ+ history. It is important for museum professionals to remember that LGBTIQ+ history is not just in one month. There are museums that not only incorporate LGBTIQ+ history into their programs but also do outreach in the LGBTIQ+ community, and I saw some examples of this in the December 2020 edition of the Journal of Museum Education called Queering the Museum. One of the articles was Benjamin Rowles’ “LGBTIQ+-Themed Education at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna-Guided Tours with a Drag Queen” in which he pointed out the museum he began working for in 2016 holds countless European Old Master paintings and some of them can be interpreted to reference queer themes, yet there was a lack of LGBTIQ+ outreach. Rowles decided that since in addition to working in a museum he also works as a drag queen, he will combine both to provide guided tours as a drag queen; his article shared the experience of the offered guided tours that lasted for a few years.

        Another example of an article in this edition of the Journal of Museum Education was “Intuition and Vulnerability: A Queer Approach to Museum Education” written by Eli Burke, the Education Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson. Burke’s article explored intuition and vulnerability through an intergenerational arts program called Stay Gold that is specifically for the LGBTIQA+ community and its relationship to museum education. The main point of the article is that it seeks to examine how queerness is connected to both intuition and vulnerability, and how the Stay Gold program impacts the lives of LGBTIQA+ participants through that lens.

       Danielle Bennett, who has previously worked on LGBTQIA+-related projects at Amy Kaufman Cultural Planning and the New York Historical Society, also contributed an article for the Journal of Museum Education called “Lessons from Glen Burnie: Queering a Historic House Museum”. She made a case in the article for including queer narratives in historic house museums since including queer history in public history settings is important in its own right and as a way to invigorate museum interpretations and appeal to wider audiences.

Also, in the same article Bennett dispels concerns about “outing” historical actors and describe some language and ways of thinking about historical sexuality to assist educators in their interpretation. Then it shifts into the case study of Glen Burnie, a historic house museum that completely revised its interpretation to center the house’s last residents and its preservationists, a gay male couple; Glen Burnie’s interpretive shift leverages the efforts of both men to create public and private domestic experiences that create an immersive new house tour experience and can be used to create a critique of the portrayal of gender roles and heteronormativity at many historic house museums. More articles can be found in the fourth edition of the 45th volume in the Journal of Museum Education, and I included a link to current and past editions.

How are you honoring Pride Month this year?

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

Links:

Library of Congress: Pride Month

Library of Congress: Stonewall Uprising

Journal of Museum Education

AAM Pride goes Virtual

Pride at the Smithsonian

World Pride at The Met

Western Museums Association Pride Month Sources

Celebrate Pride

New York City Pride

Pride Month 2021

Events in 2020

8 LGBTQ Objects to Celebrate Pride 2020

Book Review: Invisible Ink by John A. Nagy

May 20, 2021

Open Photo

I came across John A. Nagy’s Invisible Ink: Spycraft of the American Revolution in recent years, and I decided to take a closer look at this book. I especially wanted to read this book since my work at the Three Village Historical Society also focuses on engaging visitors on the history of the Culper Spy Ring which utilized the invisible ink method during the American Revolution. The book discussed various spy methods that were implemented during that time period. It also provided some history of spying to provide context for what spying during the American Revolution was like for both the British and the Patriots (colonists who opposed British rule over the colonies). As a historian and as an Education Committee member for the Three Village Historical Society, I thought it would be important to also take a closer look at the information Nagy utilized and described in his book.

         There were a couple of things I kept in mind when examining how Nagy discussed the Culper Spy Ring in his book. For instance, while there was some information he shared throughout the book, he did focus one chapter on the Culper Spy Ring (specifically in 15 pages) as part of the overall history of spycraft in the American Revolution. The Culper Spy Ring was not the main focus of the overall book.

         I noticed within the Appendix section that Nagy labeled the code in Appendix B as “Culper Spy Ring Code”. The issue I have with this description is that the code is actually known as Tallmadge’s Code; it is named for Benjamin Tallmadge, a dragoon officer during the American Revolution, who General Washington appointed as intelligence officer and Tallmadge would serve in this role between 1778 and 1783. Tallmadge recruited his childhood friends in Setauket, New York as the main spies in the Culper Spy Ring. At first, I thought Nagy may have called it “Culper Spy Ring Code” because I saw it on Mount Vernon’s website; the title of the webpage for the collections on Mount Vernon’s website was titled “Culper Spy Ring Code”. However, I did not see any reference to Mount Vernon in his bibliography section nor does he make a reference to the Appendix B within the text itself. Therefore, it cannot be confirmed where he got the Code from. To take a look at the Code Tallmadge developed, I included a link to the code book in Mount Vernon’s collection in the list below.

         Nagy’s bibliography section is split into two subsections: manuscript collections and printed materials. With the exception of Morton Pennypacker’s book General Washington’s Spies on Long Island and in New York (published by the Long Island Historical Society in Brooklyn, 1939), there were no resources about the Culper Spy Ring that came from Long Island in his book. The bibliography section included collections that came from New York City (Columbia University Libraries, New York Historical Society, and the New York Public Library) but from what I saw in the book there are no resources that were gathered and utilized in the book from Long Island. Pennypacker’s book was a significant one because until his book was released no one knew about the Culper Spy Ring and who were a part of the Culper Spy Ring. I recommend checking out resources provided by the Three Village Historical Society in East Setauket, Stony Brook University Libraries and Archives in Stony Brook, and the Emma Clark Library’s Culper Spy Ring page called It Happened in Setauket. The links for these resources are available in the list below.

         An important thing to keep in mind when reading history books is to take a look at the resources section and how those resources are utilized throughout the books.

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts. https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

Links:

Three Village Historical Society

Emma Clark Library: It Happened in Setauket

It Happened in Setauket Map

Stony Brook University Libraries and Archives: Culper Spy Ring

Mount Vernon: Culper Code Book

https://www.westholmepublishing.com/book/invisible-ink-john-a-nagy/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6560959-invisible-ink