As the national discussion over the removal of divisive Confederate monuments continues, Professor Micki McElya’s work on the Arlington Cemetery and its untold history features prominently. On July 5th, Ian Shapira published an article, titled “At Arlington Cemetery, a Confederate monument to the South and slavery still stands,” in the Washington Post. The article cites McElya’s support for the removal of Confederate monuments, particularly the Confederate Memorial in Arlington Cemetery and her suggestion that “panels that chronicle Section 16′s origins and explain the monument’s celebration of white supremacy” be constructed in its place.
The article draws from both of McElya’s books – the 2017 Pulitzer Prize finalist The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery and Clinging to Mammy: The Faithful Slave in Twentieth-Century America.
On July 6th, Connecticut State Historian and Associate Professor Walter Woodward chatted with NPR’s Where We Live CT to discuss all things related to the Nutmeg State. Following the May 2020 release of his new book, Creating Connecticut: Critical Moments That Shaped a Great State, Woodward shares a wide-range of interesting CT history – covering the origins of the Pequot War, Connecticut’s long history of immigration, and even the recipe for the Connecticut Election Cake.
To listen to the interview, please click here.
On this Juneteenth Day, a quote from Professor Manisha Sinha‘s book, The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition, begins an important New York Times op-ed (written by Jamelle Bouie) on “Why Juneteenth Matters.” Professor Sinha’s argument that slave resistance was crucial for the abolition movement nicely introduces Bouie’s argument that it was enslaved people “who turned a narrow conflict over union into a revolutionary war for freedom” and who continued to fight for their freedom and citizenship.
To join us in reading and reflecting on this Juneteenth, please click here.
Assistant Professor Melanie Newport published a timely op-ed today in the Washington Post titled “Bail funds are having a moment in 2020.” Following the increase in philanthropic donations to bond funds in response to the protests surrounding the killing of George Floyd, Newport traces the long history behind bail, as well as the modern jail system. She writes that “bail emerged tandem with the rise of the modern jail” and soon was used to unfairly target the poor and those perceived as dangerous to a community. However, by the mid-twentieth century, bond funds were established to challenge the unfair jailing system and pretrial process. Newport argues that this legacy of mid-century bail reform has become clear through the Black Lives Matter movement and the “public recognition of the harms of jailing.”
To read this excellent op-ed, please click here.
The Day (of New London) interviewed five historians from Connecticut colleges and universities in an attempt to place the current moment of nationwide protests in the context of US history. The article includes Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar, Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of Popular Music, who refers to the nine straight days of protests and global movement as “unprecedented.” According to Ogbar, the only historical moment of possible comparison was the reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.
To read more of the discussion, please click here.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UConn has launched a new initiative, called The Pandemic Journaling Project, that allows people to document their experiences for personal use and for posterity. The multi-disciplinary journaling project is led by Sarah Willen, Associate Professor of Anthropology at UConn and Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights at UConn’s Human Rights Institute, along side Katherine Mason, Assistant Professor at Brown University, but was sparked by an email from Richard Brown, a historian and Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UConn. Open to anyone 18 or older, the project hopes to include an array of participants, including those from communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Upon collection, the responses will be submitted to a digital data repository and made available for researchers right away. For more information, click here.
On June 1st, UConn Today featured the exciting news of a new minor to be offered by the University – Digital Public History! Featuring collaboration between the Department of History and the Department of Digital Media and Design, students who declare the minor will take five transdisciplinary courses: “Introduction to Digital Humanities, Topics in Public History, Collaborating with Cultural Organizations, an experiential Digital Public History Internship with a local library, archive, museum, or other cultural organization, and a project-based capstone course, the Digital Public History Practicum, co-taught by faculty from both History and DMD.”
The funding for this minor comes from a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) $35,000 planning grant awarded to two UConn faculty, Associate Professors Fiona Vernal (left) and Tom Scheinfeldt (right). Students interested in the minor can begin taking classes in Fall 2020. To read the article, click here.
Professor Micki McElya‘s latest op-ed adds a powerful voice to the pages of the Washington Post. Building off of her recently published book, The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery, which was a finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, McElya asks why there is no collective mourning for those Americans lost to Covid-19. She answers, “The reason is as simple as it is terrible: We share no understanding of these staggering losses as ours, as belonging to all Americans, as national.” McElya argues that a sense “national kinship” is lost as the pandemic’s victims are “disproportionately urban, people of color, immigrants, the undocumented, the incarcerated, the elderly in nursing homes and state care facilities, the poor, the uninsured, the chronically ill, service workers and delivery people.”
To read more of this timely op-ed, please click here. Or, find it in this Sunday’s print edition!
In comparison to the little documentation of the 1918 flu pandemic’s impact on Storrs, the University is ensuring that the experience of COVID-19 will be remembered. Through an initiative launched by the University Archives & Special Collections (ASC) in the UConn Library, stories from the UConn community – students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, and other affiliated community members – are being collected by the ASC, preserved for posterity, and then made accessible for research and study in what will be known as the UConn COVID-19 Collection. Three classes this semester took part in the initiative, including two courses taught by History professors. Helen M. Rozwadowski, a professor of history and maritime studies at Avery Point and Sylvia Schafer, an associate professor of history at Storrs altered their writing assignments to offer students the opportunity to reflect on the effects of the pandemic.
To read about more about the teaching experiences of Professor Rozwadowski and OSchafer, or the initiative launched by the ASC, click here.
In an article titled “UConn Historian: South Vietnam Archives Provide New Insights into War,” UConn Today interviews Associate Professor and UConn Humanities Institute Fellow Nu-Ahn Tran regarding the opening of South Vietnamese archives and it’s impact on her research. By utilizing official documents from the National Archives Center II in Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon), as well as newspapers, periodicals and other Vietnamese-language publications, Tran seeks to adjust our understanding of Vietnamese elite politics by introducing what she calls the development of “anticommunist nationalism.” Her forthcoming book, with the working title of “Disunion: Anticommunist Nationalism and the Making of the Republic of Vietnam, 1954-1963,” will explore the tenure of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and the debates surrounding how to govern the nation.
To read the spotlight on Professor Tran’s excellent research, please click here.