Notes from the Field
The National Historic Landmarks Program’s Women’s History Initiative
The text below comes to us from Caridad de la Vega, Historian at the National Historic Landmarks Program, and Alexandra Lord, Branch Chief/Historian at the National Park Service's National Historic Landmarks Program. It draws on their in-house report on the progress of the Women’s History Initiative as well as a NHL nomination developed by R. Laurie Simmons, Thomas H. Simmons and Charles Haecker, and illustrates--through a discussion of the recently-recognized Ludlow Tent Colony Site in Colorado--the many ways women’s history is documented in this program of the National Park Service.
During the past four years, the National Historic Landmarks Program has engaged in a dramatic effort to extend its reach to reflect a full spectrum of people and events that participated in building the nation. While the more traditional subjects of prominent leaders, monumental architecture, and the military and its conflicts continue to be honored with additional listings, the Program also recognized many other aspects of the past.
Beginning in May 2012, a new Secretarial initiative focusing on women’s history was introduced, joining two other Secretarial initiatives (the Latino American Heritage Initiative and the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Initiative; to learn more about those efforts, click here).
Taken together, these new initiatives have resulted in the designation of thirty-one new National Historic Landmarks, all of which reflect and tell complex stories regarding the diversity of the American experience. These thirty-one National Historic Landmarks represent 70.06 percent of the new properties presented to the Secretary of the Interior for designation as National Historic Landmarks since May 2011.
Pam SanFilippo on C-SPAN
Earlier this year, NCWHS member and NPS liaison Pam SanFilippo participated in a C-SPAN broadcast exploring the life of First Lady Julia Dent Grant. In the report below she tells us a little bit about the program and shares some reflections on her experience as a panelist:
In February 2013 C-SPAN began a year-long series entitled First Ladies: Influence & Image. The first of its kind on television, the series set out to examine the history of the nation through the eyes of the women who have been closest to the men who held the highest executive office. Each 90-minute live program focuses on a First Lady, with pre-recorded segments at historic sites associated with that individual. Susan Swain, C-SPAN’s Co-President and CEO and host of the First Ladies series, is joined by two panelists each week to discuss and answer phone, Facebook and Twitter questions from viewers about the particular First Lady under discussion.
One of the most interesting developments of the series in regard to women’s history at historic sites came in discussion with the CSPAN staff. They shared with me that at many of the sites they visited, the interpreters, site directors, and curators began to re-think their understanding of the history at that site. Long having focused on the President’s association with the home or property, they were now forced to look at it through the eyes of the First Lady for this program. Many have come away with a new understanding and a desire to revise their interpretation to be inclusive of women’s voices.
Mitchell House Receives Preservation Award
NCWHS welcomes news from members of the Collaborative. The following comes from Jascin N. Leonardo Finger, curator of the Maria Mitchell House (Nantucket, Mass) Archives and Special Collections, sharing word of their recent and successful efforts to conserve the Mitchell homesite.
From its founding in 1902 to the present day, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association has focused on astronomy, the natural sciences, and the preservation of the historic Mitchell House, where America’s first woman astronomer was born in 1818. The MMA promotes the legacy of Maria Mitchell through its programs for adults and children and following the principles of how Maria Mitchell taught – learning-by-doing. This hands-on approach permeates all of the departments at the MMA including the Mitchell House, Archives, and Special Collections.
Stowe House a National Historic Landmark
Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Executive Director Katherine Kane announced on Tuesday, March 12th, that Stowe's Hartford, Connecticut, home is now designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Kane noted, "This honor from the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service recognizes and celebrates Stowe's impact on America. Her most famous work, the best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War, and was fueled by her passion for justice and empathy for those enslaved. We appreciate the support of Connecticut's federal delegation, Governor Malloy and the CT State Historic Preservation Office. We are grateful for the testimony of the offices of Congressman Larson,
Student Nominates School for National Register
A fifteen-year-old high school student working toward her Girl Scout Gold Award presented her nomination of Buck Creek Rosenwald School for the National Register of Historic Places during a meeting today of the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board at Paul Sawyier Public Library, Frankfort.
Julia Bache, a sophomore at Kentucky Country Day School, is a direct descendant of Benjamin Franklin and said she became interested in history after attending a reunion in 2006 commemorating his 300th birthday.
“Ever since I was a Brownie I’ve been looking forward to earning my Gold Award, and now I’m actually working on my project,” she said. Julia first earned her Silver Award by creating a program whereby Girl Scouts could earn a patch for learning about the history of Locust Grove, a National Historic Landmark. She said her interest in Rosenwald Schools came about after she became aware of the Jefferson Jacob Rosenwald School in Prospect, which was listed in the National Register earlier this year.