Have We Considered Nightlife into Historic Preservation?

WHY NOT?

I mean, really….like the title says, have we considered nightlife into historic preservation? Has there ever been much thought to preserve local joints that make a city jive at night?

Okay, your first impression might be, you done lost it now Jacob, but consider the idea that the concept of a club, joint, music hall, dance hall, bar, and or saloon all have one common interest: drunk people.

No, I’m kidding (well…), but in all seriousness, I would say that all of these entertainment sites are places of social gathering. And what are they known for? Well, social gathering sites are primarily known for their alcohol, music, and most probably dancing. Why? Well because for so long humans have enjoyed the concept of an entertainment hall for the opportunity to meet/hang out with people while enjoying a nice goblet/glass of wine, pint/bottle of beer, or shooter/shot of hard liquor.

This is the drunken history of the people, man! I mean, it’s so common that this is something that, even in the slightest way, is talked about in secondary school…

So, since entertainment halls seem to be such an integral component to the social human and causal lesson plan for education, then why can’t certain entertainment halls be deemed worthy of historic preservation?

WHAT TO PRESERVE?

You might think, well Jacob that argument doesn’t seem to match up well…and I’m saying part of explaining “the history of the people” is also explaining the tabooed components of history, like that of bars and clubs.

And as far as clubs go in San Antonio, TX, I think that the Office of Historic Preservation would do well to preserve The Bonham Exchange night club. (Warning, The Bonham Exchange website may have music playing the background with some profanity.)

The Bonham Exchange – Out In SA Credit

PURPOSE OF PRESERVATION + HISTORY

What exactly screams preservation when you think about landmarks? It is the age of a building? Is it the historical significance? Or maybe there’s something unique about the particular group of people it attracts? With these questions in mind, we’re going to take a closer look at five categories that makes the Bonham Exchange a credible candidate for preservation.

1800s Architecture:

If you happen to stumble on over to the Bonham Exchange website and click on the About tab, I think you’ll find yourself more surprised than you think to know the history of this building…

For starters, the building was established in 1891. That’s 127 years, present year 2018. The age has significance in itself to be made worthy of preservation, already! Yet, that’s just the beginning. Honing in on its origins, the land the building sits on was originally owned by a German athletic association called Turn Verin.

“On April 18 of that year [1891], architect James Wahrenberger and builder Adam Maurer, set out to erect Turner Hall for just under $35,000.  The building would contain a bowling alley, a gymnasium, and a grand ballroom for formal events.  The 20,000 square foot facility would be covered in pressed Chicago brick, lined with Kerrville limestone, and granite”(Bonham Exchange, The History).

In 1929, there were plans to add an additional 10-stoires to the building, including a swimming pool, basketball courts, office space, a club room, and a formal dining room. However, the Great Depression hit and the Turners were not able to keep up on their payments. That’s when the government stepped in to take over the building to use for an USO (United Service Organization) office. Now, if these architectural details don’t do the job of reeling you in about why the Bonham should be preserved, then no need to worry. Maybe, you’ll give it a second thought after diving deeper into the history that’s embedded within the walls.

WWII Contextual History:

Taking a closer look at the Bonham’s decor history it might come to a surprise to know that this building actually has significance to World War II. Another quote from The History states that,

“With all the anti-German sentiment flourishing during World War II, many of the historical and memorable German markings of the old Hall were removed from the decor.  The stone marking Turner Hall was also taken down outside and many of the ornate stained glass windows, depicting Stars of David, inside the ballroom were boarded over (Bonham Exchange, The History).

(Refer back to The Bonham Exchange – Out In SA Credit visual to see the ornate stained glass windows that are present today.)

Not only does this bit of history make the Bonham feel like a discovery in the movie National Treasure, but the building is also a legit discovery for the history of the war and the contextual history of San Antonio in the late 1930s and early 1940s. If this isn’t intriguing you as much as it is for me, then let’s continue to the third characteristic that highlights the USO’s shift.

Entertainment for Local Community:

After using the Bonham building for 30 years, the USO relocated and turned the building into a storage for the downtown post office of that time. Yet, what came next became Bonham’s establishing moment. Take a look:

However in 1980, downtown developer Arthur P Veltman (other[wise] known as “Hap” or Happy”), was scouting the area for a new location to replace his previous gay nightclub[,] The San Antonio Country, which had recently been purchased by the Valero Corporation in a much publicized event” (Bonham Exchange, The History).

Veltman then began a costly renovation and opened its doors in 1981. The club has been going ever since with two successors, Wade Strauch (now passed) and Kenneth Garrett, who still heads the club today. Present day, the Bonham is known as one of San Antonio’s premier clubs. Opened five nights a week (Wed-Sunday 8PM-3AM), the club has played host to some big names over the years. Names such as,

“Tina Turner, the Ramones, the Bangles, Iggy Pop, Bronski Beat, The Thompson Twins, Simple Minds, Georgia Ragsdale, Debra Harry, Black Box, Martha Wash, Taylor Dayne, RuPaul, Real Life, Pamela Stanley, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Lonnie Gordon, and Ministry” (Bonham Exchange, The History).

The Bonham has even hosted celebrity events and sightings with other big names such as:

Helen Reddy, Puff Daddy, Prince, Patrick Swayze, Dennis Rodman, Charles Barkley, Ashley Judd.  Not to mention cast parties with touring Broadway Shows such as: Greater Tuna, Will Rogers Follies, Hello Dolly!, Buddy the Buddy Holly Story, Fiddler on the roof, The Phantom of the Opera National Tour I & II, Jesus Christ Superstar, South Pacific, Swing!, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, BLAST!, Mamma Mia!, Cats, Grease, Singin’ in the Rain, La Cage Aux Folles, Chicago, Cabaret, Les Miserables, The Producers, Aida, and 42nd street. Also the Moscow Ballet and The Nutcracker Russian Ballet” (Bonham Exchange, The History).

Entertainment and attraction is where the money’s at and these big names continue to bring in consumers to the downtown area. With that, the Bonham isn’t only a place to gather for a night of stars and fun, but it’s also a place to attract people to local establishments. While entertainment can be found elsewhere like at the Alamodome or at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, the Bonham will indirectly keep it’s local surroundings alive, like that of the San Antonio Fire Museum, the San Antonio Scotties Rite Library and Museum, and the Oasis Mexican Cafe. As s result, the Bonham’s entertainment and attractions aid the downtown local economy…and we haven’t even talked about most important characteristics that deserve the preserve of the Bonham.

SA LGBTQ+ Identity:

Aside from a place of entertainment, the club also aids as a community for some of the marginalized members of San Antonio and the world for that matter. Furthermore, what many people fail to realize is that the Bonham Exchange is a safe place for LGBTQ+ individuals of all ages to hang out at and a place to feel comfortable in their own skin. Even in 2018, it should come to no surprise that homosexuality is still trying to reach full acceptance. While there has been a significant progression over the years, being gay, lesbian, bisexual, and or transgendered is still a challenge, even in a liberal city like SA.

The Bonham offers special event nights geared towards transgendered people and drag queens and kings (Bonham Exchange)
The Bonham also hosts special event nights geared towards gay men socials (Bonham Exchange)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The LGBTQ+ community continues to struggle with acceptance because one ideology in society claims that same-sex attraction is an abnormality and abomination, which can be especially challenging for some heterosexual individuals to digest. This usually never makes it easy for any LGBTQ+ person to come out, but when that person does choose to accept their identity, then (s)he should also deserve the support and respect to express themselves freely without hassle. However in a city like San Antonio, which prides itself in its Mexican roots, it can often be a challenge for LGBTQ+ individuals to express themselves because of the strict and religious regulations within the Mexican culture.

Digressing for a moment I want to share, as a Theology major at St. Mary’s University, a half Mexican, and a young gay man, how I personally understand the all too real hardships of “being gay” in this culture. I may not have the full blown experience of the Mexican culture, but I do understand how traditional Catholics can reject LGBTQ+ people because of their own strong Catholic/Christian roots in the Mexican culture.

I also don’t believe that one’s sexuality, or that of acting upon it, will condemn an individual. I say this because, as I’m trying to point to, some people in the Mexican culture have extreme difficultly accepting LGBTQ+ individuals. This difficulty comes because some think that it’s “not God’s way”, or because some males think it’s not “machismo (manly)”, or because it’s commonly seen as a divergence from the male-female relationship norm.

Nevertheless, I try to focus on a theologically pastoral perspective, which allows me to feel and know that what matter most, for any individual connecting with the Divine, are exclusively their heartfelt desires for God and community. This isn’t a minority ideology either, to say the least. Instead, I feel that this is commonly believed among many LGBTQ+ Catholics and Christians. Therefore, because of these struggles and exclusions felt by LGBTQ+ Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike, the Bonham is a place to block out both homophobia and sanctimony, which continues to give Bonham all the more meaning and criteria for preservation.

SA Latino Identity:

Lastly the final, yet often trivialized, point to make about preservation involves the safeguard of the Latino community in San Antonio. According to World Population Review, about 63.2% of San Antonio is Hispanic. That means that the Latino community makes up more than half of San Antonio, so with this in mind it is important to also encourage and recognize nightlife that gears towards the city’s majority demographic.

Since San Antonio has increased population and size over the years, the majority of the Latino community is basically concentrated inside the city’s 410 loop; the same area the Bonham is located in. Therefore, with San Antonio’s inner-city Hispanic density, it is also important to protect landmarks, like that of the Bonham Exchange, which acts as a demographic community for its surrounding population.

Taking a look at the map below to further understand the demographic layouts. The yellow areas represent the density of Hispanics in San Antonio. (If you’re interested in reading the rest of the mySA article, click here.)

Racial Dot Map of San Antonio (Kolten Parker, mySA)

All in all this is the final characteristic that gives reason to preserve the Bonham. At large though, whether architecture, history, entertainment, or acting as safeguard communities, the Bonham can cater to people’s support for preservation for several reason. None of these features should stand apart from the other, because each play a role in unifying the significance behind this building, but all should be remembered when learning more about this nightlife and historic attraction.

BENEFITS?

Now you may be asking, what’s the point in all this? Even if we want to preserve The Bonham Exchange, what good will it do? And see, that’s where The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) comes in!  The OHP would preserve Bonham’s historical significant architecture and community story, protect the space for LGBTQ+ and Latino identity, and promote entertainment and attraction for downtown business.

Official OHP Logo

 

To reiterate the purpose here, an important part to the protection of Bonham is that of the LGBTQ+ and Latino community. For San Antonio, and now seeing that it’s a majority Latino based city, it’s important to have these spaces so that the common demographic can feel at home and safe from racial and or sexual orientation discrimination. Just as important, the LGBTQ+ community is one that is often attacked and needs security. Therefore, Bonham provides that safe space for LGBTQ+ friends and allies to come together and mingle without fear and criticism. (Even though some people think that Bonham is on the decline as a LGBTQ+ community.)

Secondly reiterated, the Bonham will not only benefit from the preservation of the building by protecting the identities associated with it, but it will also benefit by increasing its publicity to people who stumble upon OHP and its 2,000 other landmarks. Indirectly, this will also promote Bonham’s surrounding businesses’ publicity. The more people who know and visit Bonham will also spark an interest in visiting local surrounding businesses. Overall this will add to the revenue increase for the downtown area and support local businesses.

CONCLUSION

So, let’s make it happen! Let’s make the Bonham Exchange landmarked! It may be just another nightclub in the end, but it’s not every day that nightclubs have historical significance or even cater to two identity groups. These are the driving factors that make Bonham important to the community and something worthy to consider for San Antonio’s preservation. After all, as a young gay man I find that you can’t go wrong here, because it’s always more fun with the gays (wink).

A Look at “CNN World News” and the Ghouta, Syria Airstrike

Note: This is not a regular blog but instead an ass-ignment to which the only criteria is to find infor-mation that is 
              engaging
              factual
              and at least 100-300 words

 

The CNN website is probably one of my most favorite places to read the news, especially CNN World News.

Opening up the World News tab, I am first enraptured  by the simplicity, yet serious vibe, of the CNN World news header. (Refer to Ex. 1.)

Ex. 1

“Mmm hmm, this is gonna be good,” I think to myself. I mean, at least with finding interesting information to read, the title and the aesthetics of the information have to allure me first and I think, with their header here, that CNN definitely does a fine job attracting me to the information I’m now drawn to read.

Yet, while this information may be some of the best updated reports, it’s usually not happiest news.

Take Ex. 2the World New’s headliner for today: “‘Worst days of our lives’ The Syrian airstrikes keep coming in this Syrian suburb”.

EX. 2 – MOHAMMED BADRA/ EPA-EFE CNN

According to Tamara Qiblawi and Sarah Sirgany, on February 21st, 2018 (today) CNN states that for the past two days an airstrike has killed at least 250 civilians in Ghouta, Syria.

Fact.

The following are also facts, some direct quotes, taken from Monday’s update and Wednesday’s update.

“The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 106 died on Tuesday, the highest in a single day since a 2013 alleged chemical attack on eastern Ghouta, which activists say killed approximately 1,400 people” (CNN, Wednesday).

Fact.

“The Syrian Observatory said the death toll included 58 children and 42 women. More than 1,200 people were wounded by constant shelling of the besieged area outside Damascus. The assault continued into Wednesday (CNN, Wednesday).

Fact.

“At least 71 people were killed and 325 others wounded in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta after the Syrian government carried out a series of airstrikes and artillery bombardments, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday” (CNN, Monday). 

Fact.

In understanding how this all began, now must also understand it’s 2011 inception.

See, this recent airstrike is a part of the ongoing Syrian conflict that erupted back in 2011. This is more commonly known as the Syrian Civil War between the government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with its allies, and various forces opposing the government., knows as the rebels. The airstrike today was made by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against the rebels.

And that ladies and gents is

Fact.

 

What’s Hot, What’s Not Part III: Eval. of the Rehabber Club Project

Welcome back to another public history project evaluation! This time we will be evaluating the Rehabber Club Project and narrowing in on the preservation efforts and stakeholders involved.

First thing first though…

What exactly is the San Antonio Rehabber Club Project, anyway?

Well, what sticks out from the title? For me, it’s Rehabber…sort of like rehabilitation…and if you click on the project link you’ll find that this enterprise is dedicated to a group of people rebuilding historic buildings! Very fitting for the whole rehabilitation-Rehabber name.

Here’s a photo from the Rehabber Club’s website that shows the final stage of one historic building’s rehabilitation.

Now, it should be noted that this isn’t just any group of people coming together. This is a continuous project initially launched in 2016 by the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation. But what more should we know about this oh-so official club? Let’s check it out.

Background

Like every good city project, there’s usually some kind of formal summary that expresses their assignment, values, and goal, otherwise known as a mission statement. So what’s their mission, you ask? Well, pulling directly from their website…

“The Rehabber Club mission is to build and support a network of do-it-yourselfers, craftsmen, contractors, historic homeowners, realtors, and everyday citizens to revitalize San Antonio’s historic buildings. We accomplish this through networking, training, certification, and plain ole encouragement.”

Okay, okay, okay, so we know what they do, but who do the Rehabber Club involve?

Basically all the people mentioned in the mission statement. So, do-it-yourselfers, or people who work on a building and revitalize the foundation themselves; realtors, or agents who sell and purchase a building; and everyday citizens, or people who come together in this club to offer their volunteered service.

Alright, we seem to have a sturdy foundation of what this organization is…But who else might be involved? Who else partners with the Rehabber Club? Interestingly enough, a great deal of the Rehabber Club preservation and promotion  is owed to the Power of Preservation Foundation, which helps achieve projects throughout the community.

“Started in 2012, the Power of Preservation Foundation (PoP) is a coalition of advocates, businesses, neighborhoods, and agencies interested in promoting the literal “power” of preservation in our community” (PoP Website).

Promotion

Now that we know who the Rehabbers are, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty evaluation portion. Some areas that were considered to comment on include aesthetics, content, and functionality. However, the main areas that stand interestingly apart are in the promotion, history, and outreach efforts of this project. See, if there’s one thing that city projects either lack or excel at, it’s promotion; and it’s draining work honestly (I’ve been there).

Not only can is it a hassle to promote a business but it can also be discouraging knowing that you’ll pass out information to 250 people and have maybe 4 check backs that people are actually interested. Especially with city projects, the interest level is probably not as high as, let’s say, a new local ice cream joint. Still, the constant push for promotion is crucial to receive support from volunteers, donors, and marketers. This is where I think the Rehabber Club makes a smart move.

Not only does their website have a “Get Involved” promotion, but it’s also listed as one of their five tabs at the top. Allowing this easy access, without being annoyingly persistent, this website make a strategic promotion to attract newcomers. After all, if a visitor clicks on the easily accessible “Get Involved” tab then that individual will next have the opportunity to “Join the Club” or become a “Volunteer”. Refer to Ex. 1 and Ex. 2 from the Rehabber Club’s page for a visual.

Ex. 1 – Five Tabs: Five Promotions

 

Ex. 2 – Notice also the positive invocation in “You can make a difference”.

The “You can make a difference” call-to-action marketing method helps a potential client feel as if their contribution will make a significant impact in other people’s lives, or specifically, their city’s historical rehabilitation project efforts. These are the exact details that are important to note when evaluating the promotional aspects of public history projects.

Historical Marketing

On a larger scale, there is another kind of marketing that focuses the attention to historic intercity neighborhoods. Take for example the revitalization of inner-city St. Louis. In the book Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner Cities, Andrew Hurley states that,

“There is nothing inherently wrong about using history as a marketing tool. In an age of globalization and increasingly homogenized experience, heritage tourism satisfies a real hunger for the distinctive and the autochthonous [indigenous inhabitant], that which springs from local sources. For overlooked inner-city neighborhoods like Old North St. Louis, is a perfectly logical and reasonable way to command greater attention and generate more revenue for local business” (Hurley, 71).

Furthermore, the history of inner-cities, like that of St. Louis and San Antonio, have something great to be shared, preserved, and marketed. If these spaces need revitalization, then what better way to do that than by emphasizing the history that makes each place unique and interesting?

Old North, St. Louis – Provided by Joe, NextSTL

With the Rehabber Club in place, the City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation has a beneficial opportunity to help out local businesses that surround the inner-city of SA by focusing on the historic buildings from 10, 50, or even 100 years ago. With history as the focus, tourists and even the general public are then attracted to a building’s makeover and will most likely visit local businesses in the area.

This utilization of history is perfect for marketing.

In another sense, take into consideration how the Pearl Brewery, here in San Antonio, has made inner-city revitalization more visible within the city. Aside from the negativity of gentrification that this project has also caused, there is no denying that the historic Pearl Brewery is now bringing heightened business to the surrounding area.

Nevertheless, coming back to the second point of this evaluation, the Rehabber Club makes a clever move by inviting people to get involved when they visit their website and through this method of historical marketing. In this way people also have a chance to become part of the revamped inner-city life and businesses.

Pearl Brewery – Provided by Bonnie Arbittier, Rivard Report

Outreach

If there’s one final category to mention, it’s that this project makes a striking effort to outreach. This is a good thing! Staying connected is the key to any project, especially city wide projects. Not only does outreach help people stay in touch with the organization, but it also helps the organization stay in touch with the community. How else did the Rehabbers know that there were historic buildings out in San Antonio that needed rehabilitation and preservation? Staying connected to the community is the epitome of public history communication, for without this, these buildings would have wasted away, or worse, these community histories would have wasted away.

Ex. 3 – Digital platforms of outreach are becoming more and more popular that carefully allow individuals to express their desire to be apart of an organization.

Next, let’s taking a look and evaluating Ex. 3 above and notice that the Rehabber Club offers a digital way to “Become a Partner”. In understanding its importance,  if an individual wants to get involved but may not way to call, then that person might find it easier to send a quick “Hey, I’m interested!” message verses an audible phone call that probably won’t have much of an effect versus a visual email.

Ex. 4 – Stay Connected Through Social Media

Finally, evaluating Ex. 4, the Rehabber Club makes an astute move here to include address, phone number, and social media accounts. I think this is great because I haven’t seen too many public history projects that include variety of social media account. Yet, it’s quite important in this day in age if you’re especially wanting to reach out to youth. Plus, with more methods of outreach to connect people to organizations, the more effective this project will be in the end to accrue publicity and popularity.

Tally the Score

All in all, I would say that this project is on point, as my generation says. Aside from the few typos I saw, the aesthetics look great and the content is formatted to a clean cut. Most importantly, this project is on point in it’s promotion, historical marketing, and outreach. Again, these are important factors that not only help with the overall attraction of this organization, but that also help individuals feel like their support can make a positive impact, preserve the stories rooted in project walls, and further connect people beyond volunteer shifts.

At it’s whole, this is one public history project that is definitely hot. Now where do I sign up!? Oh wait, I can’t use that cheesy line because I just told you where…

8/10 Rehabbers.

What’s Hot, What’s Not Part II: Eval. of Digital Harlem Project

This blog will focus on the evaluation of the Digital Harlem Project with critique points that come from the digital evaluation rubric my Intro to Public History class made together.

Ex. 1

Jumping right in, let me point out this first welcome message that immediately pops up when the visitor opens the website. The major thing about this message is that it tells the summary of the Digital Harlem website. For one, it correctly gives credit to all of its information about everyday life in New York City’s Harlem from 1915-1930.

Not only it is in bold, but it’s the first paragraph that’s suppose to be read. Something about, making this the first detail of the website, makes me feel trusted to know that, as a visitor, everything I’m about to read is valid and real. These qualities are especially important for meeting expectations under content.

Additionally, this welcome message also points out that “the panel on the left” allows the visitor to search different components of the website. People can also be searched and pointed out on the map to show “where they spent time in Harlem”. This meets expectations for the user-freidnliness bullet of functionality and accessibility.

The second detail I would like to point out is the “select a person” option. From the panel on the left, a visitor can choose from six people’s lives to dive deeper into and know their place in Harlem. (Refer to Ex. 2 and Ex. 3.)

Ex. 2
Ex. 3

The neat thing about this is that six people are then given summaries of their lives and further shown where they spent their time on the map. This definitely  meets expectations for the content of the digital project. Now, I will say that I’m annoyed that out of the six people to choose from, only one female. This marks down a bit for the diverse perspectives bullet under content. (Refer back to Ex. 2 for names.)

As for aesthetics and organization, I will have to say that’s it’s good, but it’s not great or outstanding. I am pleased know that the fonts are consistent with each other throughout the website , yet the major heading fonts are average and incorporate pictures at a basic level as well. (See Ex. 4 and Ex. 5.)

Ex. 4

 

Ex. 5

The color scheme is also something to be desired.  I think every colors has a a time and place, but I do think that colors should be used appropriately. As for this dark orange, I do think that it’s an acceptable color to use for this project. It may not be the most desired color, unlike the common blue, but the orange does help to create a “pop” effect when emphasizing information boxes, like that of Ex. 1 and Ex. 3, and that’s key here.

One function that I have come to find broken is the “List” button on the map. Refer to the List button in the top right hand corner of Ex. 6.

Ex. 6

When I click on the List button I hope to view a list of the events instead of a timeline, but I am instead taken to a blank white page. Therefore this is a broken link and is something that needs improvement for accessibility.

Well, over all I would have to say that I did enjoy this website. I am not feeling unsatisfied after leaving this page. Part of me also feels connected to the short six people summaries given. It was neat to see where these people’s significant places were. Like for Annie, I didn’t know that she took night classes for dressmaking…and it just makes me think of what areas I would highlight on my own map.

This is definitely relatable, and helped me interact and relate. Therefore this webpage meets exceptions for engagement and relevancy. (I think this should be the appropriate tab name, not Engaging and Relevant. It should be consistent as a noun, like the other tabs, versus an adjective.)

All in all, I would rate this project with a 84/100.

What’s Hot, What’s Not – Eval. of Histories of National Mall: Past Events Webpage

This is an evaluation for the Histories of National Malls: Past Events page. I am working along side Alexis Soto for this blog. He and I are classmates for Intro to Public History and have teamed up for this evaluation. The five categories that we will critique this website on are:

  • aesthetics
  • user-friendliness
  • layout
  • relevant content
  • source

Beginning first with the aesthetics of this page, we have both found the fonts and color scheme to be consistent throughout. Take note of the orange as the primary color, the gray-green as the secondary color, and the white background as the tertiary color.

Ex. 1

Additionally, Alex and I also appreciated the shadow effect around the timeline text. This helps to give depth and separation from a plain ol’ flat screen.

Ex. 2

However, we do think that this website needs to add wallpaper images to their background in order to visually stimulate the audience. Take note of the free space at the top of the website. There is a big chuck of space in the “Events (96 total)” header that could otherwise be used to present relevant images of some sort.

Ex. 3

As for the user-friendliness of this page, we both found it convenient that the web-designer(s) added a “Jump to a period” tool at the top of the page so that the user can navigate the timeline of past events.

Ex. 4

Additionally, within just about every event link that can be clicked on, there are additional hyperlinks that are embedded in to the words of the description text. This is useful to have quick access to other websites that correlate with the topic of interest. Here is an example:

Ex. 5

Moving on the the layout of this page, the same critiques about, the appreciation of the “jump to period” tool and our issue with the excessive free space at the top of the page, are applied here also. We feel as if the jump to period tool is set in a convenient location. However, it would be even more convenient if the tool was a side bar function that scrolls while the user scrolls through the page. This way, the user won’t have to scroll to the top of the page every time to change the time period . (Refer back to Ex. 4 for a visualization.)

Plus, the excessive blue colored free space at the top of the page takes up more than half of the screen as a header and would otherwise look better if the space was smaller. After all, while the page should be emphasize as an Events page, it doesn’t need this much header space for dramatic effect; this  should just be simple yet distinguishable header. (Refer back to Ex. 3 for a visualization.)

In the fourth category we have relevant content. As far as writing and descriptions go, all writings are important and relevant to the past events of the Histories of the National Malls page. Not only is it relevant, but the text itself isn’t too lengthly, which helps to keep the lesson short yet in informative. (Refer back to Ex. 5 for a visualization.)

The last important category of critique is source. Here we were pleased to find out that within each event page comes its own source information. Not only is this ethically important to cite the appropriate person and location and the source, but it is also informative in case the user desires to research the source’s background.

 

Ex. 6

 

Well, there ya have it! These are just some of the ways in which these top five critiques: aesthetics, use-friendliness, layout, relevant content, and source can be used to evaluate web design. Hopefully this helps you, too, keep a look out for what’s hot and what’s NOT.

Peace,

Alexis Soto and Jacob Henson

This Sh*t in Real Life: Community Historian

Isn’t it crazy to think that if someone wants to find a job geared towards history, that he or she would need a Master’s degree at least? I mean, not EVERY job will require a master’s degree, but it’s mind-blowing, to me at least, to know that a career like that of a community historian would at least require an individual to obtain a degree past a bachelor’s degree program. And as I venture further into this knowledge, I think, man this sh*t gets more and more intense.

Here’s something to think about, I’m a senior studying international relations and theology, yet even someone like me could find a job in youth ministry or at nonprofit organization without obtaining my masters. While on the other hand, the field of public history says that a master’s degree is most likely required. I surprised to know that the education requirements are that rigorous, but then again this just goes to show that it takes a whole lot of work to study and practice public history.

As discussed in my last blog, I choose to portray the definition of public history as “the practice of communicating the past to this public” (Sayer, 2) from a book called Public History: A Practical Guide . In understanding how this plays a role in communicating the past to the public, I figured I share with y’all one way to give these words meaning and shed light on a few details that a community historian’s job requires.

Besides the basic requirements such as excellent leadership skills, college education, flexibility, and excellent communication skills, it is important to first know that a community historian should be up to date with politics and management; or at least have a basic understanding of politics and project management (Sayer, 146). These are some factors that Sayer highlights as a basic job description. The real magic, however, happens beyond and takes place on the field.

Community history is defined as “the engagement of a community, with their local history” (Sayer, 114) and a perfect example of this would be the people of San Antonio engaging with the history of the Missions. Being that the Missions are home the San Antonio’s culture, this ties in to how people should be seen in the engagement of local history.

From there, community historians take a responsibility in facilitating public history projects that are “run by or with a specific community of people” (Sayer, 114). There are then two approaches to carry out such projects, either from the top down approach or the history from below approach. The top down approach is led by professional historians who collaborate with the community and the ‘from below’ approach focuses on the community taking charge while sometimes being facilitated by professionals (Sayer, 122).

Moreover, a major component about community historians is that they do not even necessarily have to know all of the local history that surrounds an individual’s job. However, the American Historical Association, AHA for short, which is a society promoting the studies, teaching, and preservation of history, emphasizes that community historians should have, “a willingness to learn the history of the community and become actively involved in its preservation” (Zainaldin, Formwalt, Harris, and Koed).

A last point to this all is that the people related to community history are also oral historians who usually recount memories and stories of events from the past and relate them to the present, (Sayer, 127). This is one way that definitely connects back to the definition discussed earlier.

Nevertheless, one conclusion that can be inferred from this is that, while local interaction may be the desired focus as a community historian, it might not be the only focus. So leave with this in mind, community historians do focus on local histories and as a result, but this narrow focus might lead to limited hours and little pay. This is a realistic approach in the end. However, this still does not completely take away from the point that there are, at least, jobs that do exist in this field.

One neat website by the American Association for State and Local History, AASLH for short, is a nonprofit organization that actually has a page to look up jobs for state and local history related job opportunities in every state in the U.S. and even outside of the U.S. And the AHA even has a career center that gives users the opportunity to view and post positions for jobs!

Final words:  I’ll say, BOOM. You have just learned the basics about community historians. However, if this doesn’t give more perspective to understand how community historians have a role in public history and have jobs for the world, then I’ll just have to work a little harder to persuade the awesomeness entailed.

This Sh*t is More Important Than You Think

What interest me about Public History? Why is it important?

Well…let’s begin:

I came across a few ways of describing public history  when reading one of our class books, Public History: A Practical Guide, by  Faye Sayer. Now, the broad definition describes Public History as the “engagement with, and of, a geographically, socially, and politically-determined public, with “their history’. (Sayer, 7). However, I found this definition to be too complex. It can be broken down more simply, instead.

For example, in the subsection “Introduction”, I found “the practice of communicating the past to the public” (Sayer, 2) to be a more digestible definition of public history. I understand that public history shouldn’t be categorized as a simple term, and in no way am I trying to undermine this concept, but for the sake of others who might not be too familiar with this, or for people who are just learning it’s complexities, like me, I find simplicity to be the most helpful in teaching.

Furthermore, this definition helps to highlight the importance of public history: that is, to communicate a time before, to the people of the present. After all, in learning about the past, an individual can also learn from one’s mistakes. Just the same, in providing a past that is relevant and accessible helps people want to learn about the past.

From what it seems, teaching history is so much more than just presenting words from a book. The presentation design and accessibility of history is important so that people can enjoy the journey of it all. Just as well, public history aims for to support and clarify the histories, of course, that are shared. In all the goals that public history has personally, academically, and publicly, I would say this seems to be one of the most important for the public’s purpose.

Now, let me give you a few examples of how I am enjoying public history in my own life. One particular topic that interests me is that of LGBTQ+ history. As a gay young man, I find it extremely important to know about the struggles that have faced my community in the past. One such article called “Project Showcase: Still Fighting For Our Lives” give a synopsis of an exhibit, with the same name, of the largest repository LGBT materials shown in Philadelphia, PA.

Not only does the original propaganda and artwork intrigue me, but the inclusive effort that goes in to this exhibit also gladdens me. GVGK TANG writes that, “Most histories of HIV/AIDS focus on white gay men. But Still Fighting showcases materials from groups like Unity, Inc., the first grassroots organization in Philadelphia run by Black gay men for Black gay men”.

It would seem unthinkable for the LGBT community to be exclusive of a certain ethnicity, but honesty, this was not, and still is not the always the case. Racism unfortunately has a dominance in many social justice issues. Yet, the fact that this exhibit specifically highlights this as an importance, warms my heart to know that this article depicts equality truly as ‘justice for ALL’. And it is here that this relevant and accessible history gives me a deeper appreciation for public history.

The second article that peaks my interest revolves around the civil rights movement. “Cold War civil rights at Gettysburg” by JILL TITUS talks about four monuments that were erected for the Civil War Centennial in 1963. What I find interesting that this article sheds light on, that I didn’t know before hand, is that these monuments and “images coming out of Birmingham, Alabama, had been a source of shock and embarrassment to many whites who had previously paid little attention to civil rights” (TITUS).

It’s like Public History even came in handy here because if it weren’t for the remembrance of the Battle of Gettysburg, people would’t have realized then and there, during the Centennial, that the same thing was still taking place with the Civil Rights movement.

Behold, just a glimpse of my passion when it comes to history. I hope this definition and two examples encourage y’all to further appreciate the importance of public history, like I too am appreciating slowly…but surely.

The Short Introduction of Jacob

Hey everyone! My name is Jacob Henson, but I simply go by Jacob. I don’t normally have nicknames, so it’s just Jacob. I know…kind of lame…but that’s me.

Anyways, I am a 22 year old regular guy, senior, at St. Mary’s University seeking a double major in Theology and International Relations. People then usually response to that with, “Wow, that’s an interesting combination. What do you plan on doing with that?” I in turn respond to that with five awkward seconds of silence…It’s still up in the the air for me but I usually end up saying that I want to find some kind of work in the nonprofit world.

With graduation just around the corner, I anticipate to graduate in the fall of 2018; what comes after that still scares me. I’m still not sure where I see myself working, but my train of thought thinks it may be with HEB. See, I currently work in the Bakery department of the newest HEB that opened up in the Alamo Ranch area and I say that I might see myself working with HEB after graduation because HEB offers positions in the Public Affairs & Diversity department. After understanding what the heck that entails, you might then understand why I think this suits me.

See, this department basically teams up with nonprofits and serves in a variety of ways in sponsored events. Knowing that I’ll have a year background with HEB by the time I graduate, I infer that this could be a good fit for me. At least, that’s the idea for now anyways…

In regards to this class, however, The Power of the Past: Public History, I hope to learn more specifically about how history is structured and presented to help the public learn effectively yet also have fun with it. In other words, I’m curious to know the strategies public history uses to effectively communicate with and educate people. Additionally, I’m curious to know if there are public histories that are more important than others, and if so, where are these histories located?

Lastly, touching on the point of ‘what a teacher has done for me to best facilitate my learning’ would most definitely have to been the way teachers give detailed feedback to me.

I appreciate when my teachers leave comments on my essays or quizzes when they like my responses, or on the other hand, think I could improve them in such a way. This is especially important to me on essays. For example, I appreciate this one professor I had last year, Dr. Keyes, who would leave several comments on the essays I turned in online. I believe she did this so that she could either reaffirm what I learned from my work or highlight the areas I didn’t understand as well as I could have.

Well, with all this to say, I leave writing that I look forward to a great semester with you all and to the discussions that will come about!