by Laura Heath-Stout
Boston University Department of Archaeology
This year, I attended the SHA Annual Meeting for the first time. I came to Fort Worth because of my research; not to present it, but to conduct it! My dissertation focuses on diversity issues in archaeology, and the ways they affect the knowledge we produce about the human past. At the SHA conference, I observed and participated in a variety of events devoted to making our discipline more diverse, inclusive, and welcoming.
The Gender and Minority Affairs Committee (GMAC)
One of the first events I visited was the Gender and Minority Affairs Committee meeting. GMAC works on a variety of issues related to gender and race within the SHA, from ensuring that gender-neutral bathrooms are available at conferences to running anti-racism workshops to honoring especially diverse field-schools to setting up mentoring relationships for young archaeologists. One especially interesting development was the effort to reach out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities near Fort Worth to invite professors and students to our conference. GMAC is also working on a special issue of Historical Archaeology on minority issues, so keep your eyes peeled for that!
GMAC Anti-Racism Workshops
One of GMAC’s biggest projects over the last few years has been to offer anti-racism trainings at SHA annual meetings. As in previous years, trainers from Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training came to present their “Introduction to Systemic Racism” workshop on Saturday morning. In that workshop, each table wrote a six-word essay on why we must do anti-racist work as archaeologists. We wrote, “We can do better historical archaeology,” and “Collaboratively breaking patterned barriers with intention,” and “Lean back, let others lean in,” among others. Then, we discussed the ways that social institutions in the United States value white people over people of color, men over women, straight people over queer people, thin people over fat people, nondisabled people over disabled people, etc. After talking in general, we zoomed in to the specific: how does the SHA as an institution continue these oppressions? The conversation began with discussion of the orthodoxy of the SHA, the expense of coming to conferences, who is invited to symposia, and the scheduling of the conference.
The conversation continued on Sunday morning in the “Second Steps Anti-Racist Workshop,” where folks who had participated in the introductory training continued our educations. In this workshop, we primarily focused on the SHA, talking about where we stand on the road to becoming a truly multicultural organization. Then, we brainstormed ways to move forward: creating a sliding scale for conference fees, conducting outreach efforts to diverse institutions, livestreaming symposia so that people who cannot attend the conference can still participate, developing a more transparent culture about leadership and governance, and putting one person in charge of making our annual meeting accessible to people with disabilities. I hope that many of these changes will occur over the next few years, and that more people will attend the anti-racism trainings every annual meeting!
Intersectionality as Emancipatory Archaeology Symposium
Anti-oppression work was evident in the archaeological research being presented as well, especially in the symposium “Intersectionality as Emancipatory Archaeology.” With too many participants for a typical symposium slot, this symposium had two sessions on Friday morning and afternoon. It was organized by Stefan Woehlke, Megan Springate, and Suzanne Spencer-Wood, with Whitney Battle-Baptiste serving as discussant. In sixteen papers, a diverse group of scholars applied the idea of intersectionality to a wide variety of different archaeological contexts. The term intersectionality, coined by Black feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, refers to the way that systems of oppression like racism, patriarchy, and classism, interact with each other to create many different effects on people depending on their many identities. Symposium participants applied intersectionality theory to educating Washington, D.C., youth about archaeology (Alexandra Jones), the Pauli Murray Project (Colleen Betti), analysis of white women planters’ roles at Montpelier (Matthew Reeves), and Black women’s consumption patterns at a postbellum farm in Texas (Nedra Lee), among many other subjects. Intersectionality in archaeology is a hot topic right now: the SAA Annual Meeting in Vancouver this spring also featured a symposium on intersectionality issues.
Women in Diving and Archaeology: Past, Present, and Future
ACUA members took part in anti-oppression work too! On Thursday afternoon, Jessica Keller and Mary Connelly organized a forum with about fifteen women underwater archaeologists discussing their experiences of sexism and advice for young women in navigating the field. Although the panelists agreed that underwater archaeology is a male-dominated world, they argued that through hard work, building networks of women colleagues and mentors, and patience, the field can become more welcoming to everyone.
It was exciting to see so much anti-oppression work happening at the Society for Historical Archaeology meeting. I hope that all these efforts will continue, making archaeology a more diverse and equitable discipline.
Rebecca Allen (Environmental Science Associates),
Sara Mascia (Historical Perspectives, Inc.), and
Joe Joseph (New South Associates)
One of the few issues that Washington, DC-based politicians agree on across the aisle is that the history of the United States is important. Yet even with Democratic and Republican support, the Historic Preservation Fund and other legislation is in jeopardy. The HPF is funded by off-shore oil revenue, not taxes, and while Congress re-authorized the HPF at the end of 2016, it has yet to approve funding. The HPF provides funding for the State Historic Preservation Offices, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and historic preservation grants. These funds are critical to how architectural historical and archaeological projects across the country get reviewed. School House Rock’s catchy tune “I’m Just a Bill” didn’t teach us this: authorization is nice, but without the funds to back it, laws are nothing. And this is not a straightforward process. Neither is getting the Historic Tax Credit for architecture restorations reauthorized. These efforts need spokespeople.
During Preservation Advocacy Week on Capitol Hill, the authors represented the Society for Historical Archaeology and our respective companies. We spent the week of March 13 flying to Washington, DC, learning the bill numbers and the congressional lingo, discussing strategies for how to talk with legislators and their staffers, and getting tips on what to say to get beyond the receptionist’s desk. Preservation Action is the nation’s oldest grassroots historic preservation advocate (founded in 1974). PA organizes Advocacy Week every year, held in conjunction with the National Council of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) annual meeting. Accompanied by other state delegates and SHPO staff, armed with our business cards, a congressional letter from the Historic Preservation Fund’s co-sponsors, and wide smiles, the authors opened about two dozen office doors of House Representatives and Senators.View of the Capitol from Rayburn House Office Building (House of Representatives)
We learned that the halls of Congress are very long. House representatives are not in one building, but in three. Senators are in yet another three buildings. Washington, DC can be very cold in March (it snowed on us every day), House and Senate buildings are not next to one another, and although every building has nice views of the Capitol, Congress members and their aides walk in underground tunnels between office buildings and between offices and the Capitol, out of the cold and away from the public. Legislation is messy, many are shell shocked at the new administration (both sides of the aisle), but the best way to get heard is to show up in person. Constituents matter. Republican staffers respond best to discussions of the economic importance of heritage tourism. Democrat staffers respond best to representations of diversity, and the importance of history in education.
Our experiences were varied. For Rebecca, solely representing California, stating that she had traveled to DC from their home state got a “heads up” look from the receptionists of California representatives. Telling the receptionist that she was there to thank the Congressperson for their support of historic preservation got a smile and nod. Telling the person that she was an archaeologist got a conversation, and that she was as happy to talk with a staffer rather than directly with a congressperson got her four in-person meetings, and a dozen or so business cards of the right legislative staffer to email.Rebecca Allen standing outside Tom McClintock’s (R-CA 4th District) office. Mr. McClintock is the representative of El Dorado County where she lives, and yet it was easier to get an in-person meeting with his Legislative Aide in Washington, DC than his office in Roseville, California. According to his Aide, Mr. McClintock obsessively watches the History Channel.
For Sara, New York has a very active SHPO office as well as several non-profit preservation groups. Representatives from each of these organizations participated in the Hill visits along with her. A representative from the NY Governor’s Office scheduled all of the meetings with congressional staffers from numerous districts over a period of three days and attended many of the meetings with the larger group. Sara traveled with a large delegation that split 10 of NY Congressional offices between them. Joe also traveled with a larger Georgia delegation, and visited nine offices for congressional appointments. We all learned to be succinct, have Congressional bill numbers at the ready, and have arguments well-honed and backed with figures. We were also able to share information about successful projects that had a direct and positive effect on the districts that they represent, and detail the number of individuals that are employed (directly and peripherally) in our field.
Getting support for environmental issues in Washington must be a concerted and consistent effort for the next several years. We need your help. SHA, ACRA, SAA, and AAA have banded together to form the Coalition for American Heritage (http://www.heritagecoalition.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/heritagecoalition/). The Coalition hired Cultural Heritage Partners as our advocate in Washington, DC. Sign up for email on critical legislation on the Coalition’s website. You can also become a member ($40/year) and track happenings on the Hill at Preservation Action (http://www.preservationaction.org). Contribute to either or both. Proposed changes to environmental legislation and death by defunding or non-funding are coming fast and furious. Petitions and protests matter. Media articles and interviews matter. Emails and phone calls matter, but snail mail gets lost in the still-testing-for-anthrax ringer (send an email or better yet, call, instead).
What matters most? According to Javier Gamboa, Nanette Barragan’s (D-CA 44th District) Legislative Director, “Talking with your feet is important. When someone comes here all the way from [each state], we listen. Lobbyists are good, but having constituents in front of us is even better. Genuine and passionate people like you connect us directly to the issues at hand. It’s important. It lets us know what matters, and what is happening in [our home states].” As unique as it is visiting the DC offices of your congressperson, the opportunity is not only for those who can travel to our Nation’s Capital. Each of your Representatives and Senators has offices in their home district. It is just as important to take some time and visit them there when Congress in not in session. Remember to always bring your business card and some printed information to leave with the staff or your actual Congressperson when you go.
There is a “Dear Colleague” letter circulating Congress and asking for support for the HPF. Please email, call, or visit your state House Representatives and Senators, and ask them to sign-on to the HPF Dear Colleague Letter. The Dear Colleague letter closes on March 30th, so please contact your Congressional representatives now.
I am happy to announce that the SHA has signed on as a partner organization for the upcoming March for Science, to be held in Washington DC and many other locations across the United States on April 22, 2017.
The March for Science is a gathering of people concerned that scientific knowledge and the scientific process has come under attack and who want to have their voices heard by the new administration and congress.
The organizers and steering committee of the march come from varied fields in the sciences, including social sciences, as well as science education and journalism. They include Valorie Aquino, an archaeologist! SHA is excited to join with several other scientific organizations such as the American Anthropological Association, Sigma Xi, Earth Day Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Association of University Professors, and many others in supporting this important action for justice and evidence-based policies.
Here is the mission statement of the March for Science:
The March for Science champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity. We unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.
You can learn more at the March website here: https://www.marchforscience.com/
I have also set up a new Facebook group: SHA @ March for Science. Please join the group to keep up to date with the SHA’s role in the march and to find other historical archaeologists near you can march with!
Readers of Historical Archaeology have certainly noticed the two shorter articles that open up the latest issue of the journal (Vol 50.4). These are the articles on “Toward a South Asian Historical Archaeology” by Brian C. Wilson and Mark W. Hauser and “Historical Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East: A Preliminary Overview” by Alasdair Brooks and Ruth Young. These are the first in a new series of articles in the journal of regional overview essays. Two more articles in the series are in the works and are slated to appear in the journal this year. These will be essays on eastern Africa by Jonathan Walz and southeast Asia by John Miksic.
I started this series in an effort to let readers know about historical archaeology being done in regions not typically represented in the journal and to bring greater awareness of Historical Archaeology and the SHA to researchers working there. I was inspired this by our discipline’s commitment to a global understanding of the modern era as well as our new publishing partnership with Springer, which will be giving us much greater worldwide exposure.
Obviously, it is a big world and there are many regions where historical archaeology is making excellent contribution outside of SHA’s traditional Americanist focus. If you are interested in contributing an article on recent research in your region of interest or would recommend a potential author for the series, please let me know!
Chris Matthews, editor
Hi there, everyone. Mason here. I’ve pulled down all of the Christmas lights and boxed up the tree so it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get ready for this year’s annual conference. Though I’m hoping you know the particulars by now, just in case, the 2017 Annual SHA Conference (the 50th Anniversary, mind you!) will be this week in Fort Worth, Texas (January 4th-7th, 2017). Head on over to the Omni in downtown Fort Worth this Wednesday and have some fun while you learn a thing or two.
I know I’m a bit late – but not too late – to talk about Roundtable Luncheons. There are nine different lunches between the proceedings on Thursday and Friday. All roundtable luncheons will cost $30. They are scheduled from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, Stockyards 1. Several of them certainly caught my eye.
On Thursday, January 5th, the first session that resonates with me in particular is the “Jobs in Nautical Archaeology” session. I’m going to confess something: 15 years ago when I graduated from the Nautical Archaeology program at Texas A&M University I truly thought that people would be beating down my door offering me a job. Boy, was I wrong! It’s tough out there and I didn’t know the first thing on where to go, who to talk to, or how to have success in the industry! Benefit from my painfully embarrassing naivete, people! Talk with Paul Johnston of the Smithsonian Institution about the different avenues for careers in nautical archaeology and get a leg up on the competition.
Publishing helps a lot, that’s for sure! Come and attend the “Publishing Opportunities for my Research” roundtable on Thursday or the “SHA Publishing Opportunities for Students” roundtable on Friday to see where your research and your ideas can best get out to your colleagues and the public at large.
Once you’re in the “biz,” communication is one of the most essential tools (if not THE MOST) in your toolbelt. The session, “The Language of Advocacy” looks like a goody. Working in CRM, I am constantly talking with government employees and private companies who are weighing my findings against finite budgets. I’ve done my best in navigating these waters successfully, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to go about it. This session seems like it could be a great learning opportunity.
Another notable roundtable follows a different track: “Marketing Heritage Tourism: Examples from the San Antonio Mission World Heritage Site and the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail.” A lot of us archaeologists are advocates for the resources with which we work. Heritage tourism is a relatively new solution to the continued problem of funding archaeological preservation and research. Look into it while you’re having your lunch!
On Friday, the roundtables continue. Much like the session on Thursday, the “Careers in CRM and Academia” is one from which I really would have benefited in my latter days of grad school and early days in the job market. It’s a chance to sit down with professionals who have cultivated a career and learn the ins and outs of an insider. I also have a personal interest in public engagement. I’m looking forward to potentially sitting down with Ms. Sara Ayers-Rigsby to talk about new ideas to grab the public’s attention and keep it. After all, they have the potential to be very strong advocates for the work that you do. Look into “Innovative Approaches to Public Engagement and Archaeology” if you’re hoping to excite and invigorate the general public about your site.
If curation is your thing, by all means, you should sit down with Sara Rivers-Cofield and Leigh Anne Ellison to talk about your concerns over long-term care of artifacts, documents, and general data. With the Center of Digital Antiquity being one of the participants, there’s little doubt that you’ll learn something new regarding curation technology. And last (but not least), there’s “Archaeology of Submerged Landscapes: New Directions for Underwater Research.” This roundtable will give the participant to look at bigger picture topics surrounding underwater research such as historic water level fluctuations and their impacts on human occupation. New and interesting stuff!
Ya’ gotta eat lunch anyway. Why not grab some food and talk shop with some innovators and experts in the industry.
In recognition of the 50th anniversary meeting of the SHA – to be held this week in Fort Worth, TX – the History Committee of the SHA is building an online exhibit celebrating 50 years of SHA. Check out all program covers from the past 50 years and an interactive map of past meeting locations: https://sha.org/online-exhibits/exhibits/show/fifty-years-of-sha
Throughout 2017, we will be adding a variety of materials, including photos from each meeting, video and audio recordings, and resources related to the founding of the society in 1967.
To ensure as wide a representation as possible of past SHA meetings, we will be reaching out for digital photo or scanned submissions, all of which will be preserved in a digital SHA history archive. To make a submission, please email email@example.com.
There will be a variety of SHA 50th anniversary materials available at the meeting, including a commemorative publication recognizing Harrington Medal and Rupee Award recipients and a poster featuring all 50 annual meeting program covers.
See you in Forth Worth!
Ben Ford teaches at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
What’s the most interesting artifact you’ve ever found?
I am very fond of the coffee grinder and coffee beans that were recovered from the Mardi Gras Shipwreck. The Mardi Gras Shipwreck is the remains of a circa 1815 vessel located 4000 feet beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. This was the time when America’s caffeine addiction was shifting from tea to coffee because of ongoing hostilities with Britain and the ready availability of coffee from South America. Finding the coffee grinder on a ship lost between North and South America during this period of transition is a good example of how archaeology can make us reconsider the mundane. However, I can’t claim to have found this artifact. I was only one of more than 30 archaeologists, remotely operated vehicle pilots, crew members, ship captains, conservators, and others who were involved in recovering the artifact…but I still really like that coffee grinder.
Who influenced your decision to become an archaeologist?
I honestly, don’t remember who exactly influenced me to become an archaeologist, but I have the uncomfortable feeling that he might have had a whip and scar on his chin. On the other hand, I can say with certainty that Kent Vickery (University of Cincinnati) and John R. White (Youngstown University) influenced me to stay with anthropology and archaeology. They both showed me how much we can learn from the leavings of the past and how much fun it can be. I model many of my interactions with students on the way that Vickery treated me.
What is the first site you worked on? What is the last one (or current one)?
My first real archaeological experience was at the Stubbs Earthworks Site in Warren County, Ohio. I learned a lot there, including that sometimes features are only distinguishable by texture and that an experienced excavator with one arm is far more valuable than a zealous 18-year old (me). I’m currently working on three sites: I’m working with avocational archaeologists to record the remains of what appears to be the wreck of Durham boat in Lake Oneida. Students and I are also conducting a geophysical survey outside of a Revolutionary War fort on an island in the St. Lawrence River. Closer to home in Pennsylvania, I have a long-term project at the Revolutionary War era site of Hanna’s Town where we are doing targeted excavations and grappling with a rich collection that goes back four decades.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
This. There was a brief period when I wanted to be a lumberjack, but I settled on archaeology pretty early…even if I didn’t know exactly what it was. I was lucky that, while archaeology didn’t meet my teenage expectations, the combination of physical and mental exertion appealed to me. It doesn’t hurt that being an archaeologist is better than having a real job.
Why are you a member of SHA?
I am an SHA member because this is the only US organization that represents my interests as a maritime and historical archaeologist. The organization supports what I do by disseminating information and advocating for cultural resources, so I support what it does by being a member.
At what point in your career did you first join SHA?
I joined SHA during my first year of graduate school.
How many years have you been a member (approximately)?
I’ve been a member for 16 years.
Which article from Historical Archaeology has been the most influential to you?
I was influenced by Charles Cheek’s “Massachusetts Bay Foodways: Regional and Class Influences.” I liked that it answered large-scale questions using data collected from CRM excavations.
Which benefit of belonging to SHA do you find the most beneficial?
The journal on a day-to-day basis and the conference as a special treat. I almost always leave the annual conference energized about the potential for historical and underwater archaeology, but it is the journal that carries me through the year once the excitement of the annual meetings fades. I use the journal weekly in my research and teaching.
Author: Anne Garland, ARIES Research Associate, www.ariesnonprofit.com
What is CRM and Disaster Risk Reduction? This blog post is about improved CRM skill, public education, and decision making with regional and local communities to reduce risks from environmental hazards that threaten their archaeological, heritage, and preservation sites.
While “threatened sites” or “salvage archaeology” are “traditional” labels for these scenarios, the pervasive complexity of these situations for communities are now rapid, or are waiting the inevitable with gradual onset. Are we up to this task, that is, to provide professional decisions to communities facing this frequent and certain situation that impacts their cultural resources?
I am using this “label”, CRM and DRR, for any eco-heritage mitigation, preparations, response, or recovery due to hazards, risks, and disaster events. This is why we began the EnvArch Facebook group for those who work in archaeology, historic preservation, ecosystem planning, and related disciplines to share case studies and information for improved training. The goal is to better prepare CRM consultants for communities making tough decisions about their historic sites, buildings, and districts due to sea level rise, storm surges, flooding, wildfires, and other hazards.
The SHA 2015 and 2016 panels were about this topic and we will continue this year at the SHA 2017 conference. Through those in the EnvArch group, this focus has spread to other professional societies — SfAA, AAA, SAA — and other preservation societies as conference sessions. It is a global scenario and is rapidly increasing. See IHOPE. They now have an emerging hub related to this global concern. And this recent forum sponsored by ICOMOS and NAPC
While I assist North Slope Borough Risk Management (NSB RM) with CRM decisions, which are now included in their Hazard Mitigation Plans, they have limited resources for CRM mitigation. However, as a local initiative, it must be accomplished by the community through politically correct protocol.
Our non-profit works with the NSB RM in developing and implementing the HERMYS Program (Historical Ecology for Risk Management: Youth Sustainability), which has many diverse integrated projects and spin offs. Most of them are community driven with organizations as partners. CRM and DRR is one of the integrated projects working with the resident archaeologist, Anne Jensen. She will report on the panel about updates for several threatened sites along the North Slope coast for which her UIC firm assisted.
In the NSB, Anne Jensen, works for UIC Science, the Barrow Native Corporation. She is available for CRM contractual services by the tribal government as necessary. Due to lack of capacity of the NSB RM, HERMYS team assists her efforts at threatened sites along the coast.
Due to the storm surge on 8/26/2015 (Video 1), huge sections of the bluffs along Barrow collapsed and spilled out archaeological remains (Photo 2). This is happening all along the North Slope shoreline, but is the first storm to impact the Barrow bluffs. Besides the archaeological site, the bluffs include current residences. The Barrow bluffs retain the archaeological heritage of the community (Photo 1). The 2014 PolarTREC teacher of the HERMYS team created a video journal about Utqiagvik.
The NSB policy to assess and protect the impacted site had little precedent since most effected sites were on UIC property (Native Corporation). NSB has no archaeologist. For the August surge, the Inupiat Heritage Center (IHLC) made decisions as a NSB department. However, there was no consult with the Risk Managers. presumably due to lack of understanding about their integral role, through federal funding, by Department of Homeland Security. See CRM and Disaster Management polices for context:
Through the decisions of IHLC, a CRM firm was hired from Fairbanks. The CRM firm was not as familiar with the community concerns about eroding burials and permafrost sites. The collection management, and storage of materials are at IHLC, which has limited archaeological capabilities. The price tag for this salvage archaeology was high and which must be justifiable as the NSB Risk Management applied for a federal disaster declaration for public assistance.
For NSB, lessons learned for CRM and DRR relates to protocol concerning mitigation practices prior to the next surge event. Having CRM in the Hazard Mitigation Plans is an essential step for all communities; however, mitigation implementations, rather than disaster response, is a cost benefit decision for all communities.
What is the tolerable risk to cultural resources, especially if it provides tourism and community heritage? Are CRM firms getting DRR training and seeking best practices to advise and consult with Emergency Managers about cultural resources and their impacts? Free training is available through the Emergency Management Institute with independent study courses so professional archaeologists are prepared to assist with community decision makers. https://training.fema.gov/emi.aspx
There is no longer uncertainity about surge events along the Barrow coast during the late summer and fall. They will occur. However, the severity of impacts and surge locations are variable. Impacts to the remnants of the bluffs and their ancient deposits are under siege by an angry Arctic without sea ice.
With the extreme temperature differences this fall (20 degrees warmer, nytimes arctic-global-warming), the sea ice is not forming as rapidly so who knows what the next surge season will bring…. The 2016 surge season began in July through November. This was the longest surge season to date. Fortutiously, ice shelves broke from the polar ice cap and acted as barriers with the multiple west wind storms (Photo 4). The ice was pushed to the North Slope coastline over and over again. This was atypical but protective at least for the 2016 surge season.
At SHA 2017 on Jan. 5 at 2-4 p.m., come to the CRM and DRR Forum to learn the outcomes of the NSB case study and those of the DRR Panel. They plan to post their case studies soon for your review on the EnvArch group. Bring your case studies for the interactive session. And join the EnvArch Facebook group for continuing education!
OK! How’s that shopping list coming? You getting it squared away? I’m going to say that mine’s a… work in progress. I haven’t forgotten about the SHA Conference coming up in just a few weeks (January 4, 2017) in lovely Fort Worth, Texas. While there will be all kinds of great symposia and individual talks to see and plenty of opportunities to catch up with – and learn from – colleagues, conferences like these are also a chance to experience some things that you just can’t see closer to your own homes. A chance to get out and see a new city, learn about its unique history and culture first-hand. Unless you live in Fort Worth, in which case… yeah, you might be ok to do other stuff. I remember at six years old when I lived in San Antonio, I got SO SICK of visiting the Alamo every time a relative would visit. And when I moved to DC, I never thought it could happen but you really can reach a moon-rock-touching saturation point… and don’t get me started on “the Exorcist” steps… I digress…
Let’s talk about tours! This year’s conference features four tours. All of them are scheduled for Wednesday, January 4th. They all originate from the conference hotel, the Omni. Please bear in mind that if you signed up for a workshop, you should check those times against the tours to make sure you don’t have a conflict and I’d bet you probably would.
The first tour that I wanted to talk about is T-3 – the Fort Worth Architectural Walking Tour. Fort Worth is a great city. It’s big but it doesn’t necessarily feel big. And for some reason it feels more Texan than others do (I may catch some flak for that…). I think a lot of that comes from the fact that so much of its original architecture remains intact. You can get a sense of the original city if you get out of the car and walk around and this tour is perfect for that. You’ll see the site of “Hell’s Half Acre” one of the bawdiest, most violent, and generally infamous-iest(?) Red Light Districts in the American West (and that’s quite the scale to be at the top of, I’d say). After driving all those cattle for mile after mile after mile to the stockyards, I’m sure folks were ready to let off some steam and this spot was where that happened. There’s also early “skyscrapers”, municipal buildings, and other features all tucked into the main downtown area. It’s a really nice walk and well worth a gander.
T-4 – the Fort Worth Cultural District Tour is a great chance to take in some of Fort Worth’s proudest attractions. This tour is a wonderful way to make a leisurely (or ambitious if you’d prefer) day of art and culture out of the conference’s opening. There’s the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum (“the Modern” for those in “the Know”), the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the National Museum of the Cowgirl and Hall of Fame. The Amon Carter Museum is a great celebration of American Art. Right now they’re featuring a limited exhibit on American Photographs that’ll be just about to wrap up when you’re there. Moving over to the Kimbell, you can take in works from Monet, Michelangelo, and Matisse and see sculpture and other arts that span centuries from across the globe. Even the building is a work of art! Go check it out! The Modern is a great place to marvel at and pretend you understand (maybe that’s just me) modern works of art by the likes of Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Susan Rothenberg. Standing next to one another, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the National Museum of the Cowgirl and Hall of Fame are also on the docket. The Science Museum covers such topics as astronomy, paleontology (including dinosaurs!), energy and the Cowgirl Museum is the only such facility in the world dedicated to the women of the Wild West. The Cowgirl Museum is also the site of the next night’s social event and barbecue. So while you’re there taking in the art and history of the American West, maybe you could hang your coat over a chair and save your spot for the barbecue.
On this tour remember that museum admission is not included so if you want to go to the Modern, or the National Museum of the Cowgirl or the Fort Worth Science Museum, you’ll need to pay the admission fee. If you’re a student, bring your ID for a student discount.
You don’t have to stick to Fort Worth for the tours, though. Two of the tours take you over to Dallas. North Central Texas (and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in particular) boasts one of the largest and oldest African American communities in the state. Come see the history of this vibrant group with T1- Facing the Rising Sun—A View of a Late-19th- to Early-20th-Century African American Community. On this tour you will visit the Dallas African American museum where you can learn about the Freedman’s Cemetery excavation project which took place during the 1990s and early 2000s. The guides of the tour include Duane Peter, the Principal Investigator of the cemetery excavation, and Phillip Collins, a descendant of the early African American Community there and former Curator of the museum. What a great way to learn about this specific portion of Dallas’, Texas’, and the nation’s history than to hear from those who live there. You’ll also visit the Freedman’s Cemetery and from there continue on to Saint Luke Community United Methodist Church to admire the beautiful stained glass featuring 54 scenes from the community. A one-of-a-kind opportunity right there and a great tour all around!
Finally, it’s pretty well known that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas as he waved to the crowd from his motorcade on a warm November afternoon in 1963. Lee Harvey Oswald, after firing from the schoolbook depository escaped to a movie theater where he was eventually apprehended and ultimately killed in front of live news cameras as he was transferred out of the Dallas Police Headquarters. One of the Nation’s darkest and most talked about moments in history unfolded right downtown. And as someone who’s passed by all the landmarks many times, they are still amazing to see. With T-2 – John F. Kennedy Assassination Tour, you’ll see it all. Starting from the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth, where Kennedy spent his last night, you’ll head by bus to Dealey Plaza in Dallas to see the spot where the President was shot and visit the Sixth Floor Museum to learn about the event. You’ll visit the famed “Grassy Knoll” and see Zapruder’s (of the famed Zapruder Film) offices and head on to Oswald’s residence in Oak Cliff where the infamous photograph was taken. There are many other stops along the way but you’ll eventually make your way back to Fort Worth where you’ll see Oswald’s grave site and conclude at the Ozzie Rabbit (Oswald’s USMC nickname) bar. Led by the tour organizer, Joseph Murphey, historical architect with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District, anyone will find this tour interesting and sobering (except for the bar part, I guess). I’ve taken a similar tour to this one and it really is one of those permanent memories in my mind that I’m so glad I took part in. So much history that’s still there just as it was and all in one place.
Anyway, that’s it! Your tours! Get in there and sign up folks, or at the least sign up when you arrive on January 4th.
Until next time.