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NCWHS Newsletter, June 2015

Dear NCWHS Friends and Members -

Sometimes we win and sometimes we don’t.  Over the years, NCWHS has happily had a very high success rate of sessions accepted at major history-related conferences.  To our disappointment, we just had two sessions turned down, one at the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the other at the Organization for American Historians (OAH). Our thanks to all those who worked on those sessions—sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw. Thanks to the efforts of Page Harrington and others in the (AASLH) Women’s History Affinity Group we know there will be a session “From a Whisper to a Shout: Finding Ways to Share Women’s History through Innovative Collaboration,” and thanks to Board Member Marsha Weinstein, a “Louisville Women’s Suffrage Tour” (which we are partnering to present) at that conference in September.  We are currently working to propose a session for the National Council for Public History/Society for History in the Federal Government in Baltimore next year. Because these conferences come annually, thinking ahead makes a big difference as does shaping proposals for specific conferences.
 
We take the considerable time and effort to apply for conference sessions because bridging the gap between scholarship and historic sites is crucial to both. Without current quality scholarship, historic site interpretation dissolves into creative myth making (one of my personal favorites: scratches in old glass panes come from young ladies making sure that their engagement rings were real diamonds). Without historic sites, our ability to share our past with a huge part of the public is hampered and we lose an important source of historical understanding. Without good scholarship at historic sites we perpetrate poor history on an often unsuspecting public—a friend of mine is currently seeing as many historic sites as he can and bringing back some hair-raising stories of what he’s finding out there—including omitting slavery on plantations.

Read more: NCWHS Newsletter, June 2015

Sewall-Belmont House & Museum: NPS Report Favorable

Hurray! The National Park Service (NPS) has just released their favorable feasibility and suitability report finding that the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum has the necessary significance to become a stand-alone NPS site. This report is a crucial first step—but only that. You can read it at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/sebestudy. The NCWHS partnered with the NPS there at a 2012 workshop, “Tell the Whole Story.” This report giving Sewall-Belmont long overdue support and recognition will move the interpretation of women’s history at historic sites ahead.

Read more: Sewall-Belmont House & Museum: NPS Report Favorable

2015: Books & Websites We Recommend:

The NCWHS Research & Interpretation Committee polled its members to recommend some favorite good books and websites from recent years. Here's our round-up of recommendations.

Ann Little:

Rachel Hope Cleves, Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America. Oxford University Press, 2014.  This exploration of the lives and times of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake at the turn of the nineteenth century offers a fascinating glimpse into a same-sex couple whose relationship was uncontroversial in their lifetimes, and also serves as an illuminating example of the kinds of same-sex relationships historians might discover elsewhere if they're curious and attuned to queer family formations.

Mary Louise Roberts, What Soldiers Do:  Sex and the American GI in World War II France. University of Chicago Press, 2013. Roberts argues that sex was used as a means of selling the Normandy Invasion by the Allies in 1944, and that the U.S. liberation and occupation of France was also shot through with sexual implications for both the victorious G.I.s and the doubly-conquered French civilian population.  Race as well as sexuality is at stake in the American invasion:  Roberts demonstrates how contrary to African American ideas about France as a less racist society than the U.S., in fact black men were accused of rape by white French women far disproportionately to their representation in the G.I. population.  

Lynn Weiner:  

Sonia Sotomayor, My Beloved World. New York: Vintage, 2013. Nice read - how a young girl in a Bronx housing project reaches the Supreme Court - a story of the power of determination, family, and intelligence. 

Read more: 2015: Books & Websites We Recommend:

The Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray NHL Nomination: Authors Chosen & First Draft Received

The National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites (NCWHS) is pleased to announce the selection of Ms. Heather Fearnbach and Dr. Sarah Azaransky to prepare the National Historic Landmark Nomination for the Pauli Murray house in Durham North Carolina. A NCWHS committee developed selection criteria and judged the submissions, agreeing unanimously on the Fearnbach-Azaransky proposal.  Among the proposals submitted by several strong applicants, they most thoroughly covered the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray’s many facets and demonstrated the potential for project completion within the tight timeframe.  Ms. Fearnbach’s previous experience as a contract historian includes writing the Historic Structures Report for the Murray home.  She has wide-ranging professional experience with the National Register and Section 106 processes in addition to writing myriad reports and National Register nominations. Dr. Sarah Azaransky on the Union Seminary faculty is an expert on Pauli Murray as a legal scholar and civil and women’s rights activist. Dr. Azaransky wrote The Dream is Freedom: Pauli Murray and American Democratic Faith (2011), which examines Murray’s civil rights and feminist activism from the 1930s to the 1980s. She is completing The Worldwide Struggle: Religion and the International Roots of the Civil Rights Movement which includes Pauli Murray. We have just received the first draft of their NHL nomination.

Read more: The Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray NHL Nomination: Authors Chosen & First Draft Received