The Podcast Project

 Click here for the Podcast.

This was an amazing assignment. Mario and Kristine were great to work with. We were able to come up with a idea that we felt comfortable with and that we could execute in a decent manner. We chose a round table discussion style format because we did not have a lot of technical knowledge or experience in making a podcast and did not want to be overwhelmed in the editing process. The topic we agreed on was to look at historical walls and compare them to the current Presidential administration’s national security policy. We shared research duties and wrote our own segments. Kristine took on the role of host while Mario and myself were the historical experts. We each presented our segments and then answered questions put forth by Kristine. I took on the role of editor which was the most challenging part of the project, at least from my point of view.

I learned many things from this project. The main thing being how to listen to the sound of my own voice. I have always hated the way I sound on tape and it was a challenge to listen to me talk on the recording. I got real comfortable with the software real fast. I stitched together the 4 segments we recorded. I also edited out all the umms, awkward pauses, and random noises as best as I could. I am rather impressed at how easy the editing was. I feel that I could handle a bigger project and tougher challenge like moving chunks of audio around in the recording to make a better story.\

The next time I would work a little bit more on the recording volume. I think that was a weak point. The other thing I would do would be to script the questions out a little better. I thought the discussion time would carry on longer but we could not keep it going and I think we fell a little short in time. Overall I think we made a great effort and we really didn’t have any problems that caused drama or tension in the group. I look forward to doing this again.

Railroads and the Making of Modern America: Documenting the Railroad industry on the backs of the slave trade.

Railroads and the Making of Modern America Created by William G. Thomas III, Richard Healey, Ian Cottingham, Leslie Working, Nathan B. Sanderson, Zach Bajaber, Karin Dalziel, Keith Nickum, Brian L. Pytlik Zillig, Laura Weakly, Trevor Munoz, Dan Becker, Catherine Biba, Luci Bolwer, Karin Callahan, Sarah Dieter, Paul Fajman, Marco Floreani, Amy Grant, Erin Johnson, John Kemp, Kurt E. Kinbacher, Miles Krumbach, Dan Larsen, Steve McGuire, Lundon Pinneo, Cris Rasmussen, Anastasia Smallcomb, Nic Swiercek, Michelle Tiedje, Rebecca Wingo, and Robert Voss, The University of Nebraska Lincoln, Reviewed Jan. 2019.

It is said it takes a team to build a mountain. In reviewing Railroads and the Making of Modern America, a digital history project maintained through the University of Nebraska Lincoln. On a macro-level, Rail Roads and the Making of Modern America can be defined as a digital exhibit/tool, covering the socioeconomic, political, and cultural impact of the rail road between Nebraska and America’s slave trade. In discussing this topic, Rail Roads does a great job at maintaining a neutral point of view in providing objective content on the matter. At a more defined micro-level, you really begin to see the immense depth of this project. When visiting the site, a simple scroll of your mouse pad begins your journey as samples of content interchange on an automated slideshow.

Complimenting the automated slideshow, the home page, provides for the viewer easy access tabs concentrating on individual areas of this site. Tabs labeled “Data”, “Search”, “Topic”, and “Home” make it utterly impossible to get lost while navigating. I began maneuvering through this site simply by taking a quick glance at what each area had to offer. On a quick glance, I came across things photos, map, letters, reports, and contracts, mostly in relation to a specific rail road company or slave owner. In addition to these items were also more general documents specific to a region or route taken. Not isolated to any one area, these documents could be found within each area of study. An area not given much attention, was the adaptations for those with special needs or abilities. While each area of study contained an assortment of available content, individuals with special needs or abilities will need to find alternate aid to assist in viewing this site as no options are available for the filtering of these needs.

Aside from this, the content of this project is well organized and displayed. In general, the material housed here could benefit high school and college students in search of primary sources on this topic. Outside of classrooms, this source also has the potential to be useful for genealogy, with its capability to search for railroad employees. 

In reflection, the digital media pieces which stood out to me more than others as having the most potential included, an interactive map which allows the viewer to scroll through to a given event and connects it to an interactive calendar, so the viewer can connect an event. Another fascinating section documented the purchase of slaves to include surnames and quantities of slaves. Another area I particularly enjoyed was an element which use the rail road information to show an example of Spatio-Temporal Correlation Technology. For this example, you are given the option to view the map used from the view of elevation, population, or rail roads. For each of these, this example gives the viewer the option to scroll from 1869 to 1887 and literally watch the rail road system grow across the state of Nebraska. Finally, in what would be everyone’s favorite, Rail Roads and the Making of America has added to this collect several podcasts which allow for additional insight into some of the more detailed pieces to this story. As a bird’s eye view it is fascinating to watch the impact of the railroad in real time.

In conclusion, the work compiled for Railroads And The Making of Modern America is but a mere example of the heights digital history can go. In an age filled with up and coming tech savvy students, the need to maintain a higher level of engagement become more of a necessity. Railroads And The Making of Modern America does that perfectly.   

When Sears Used to Tower Over the Land

The competition among retail stores is brutal; it always has been.  Most people are familiar with the names JC Penny,  Montgomery  Ward, Woolworth’s, Marshall Fields, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Sears.  Most of these stores have been operating for one hundred years or longer.  Some like Macy’s have given us iconic institutions like a Thanksgiving Day Parade, or like Sears who gave us the tallest building in the US at the time.  Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer was

Now called Willis Tower this was originally the headquarters of Sears Dept Store.

an advertising creation of Montgomery Ward who, more importantly, also started the catalog mail order service.  This business model would be copied by Sears and Roebuck.  Sears would become so successful at it they eventually rose to be the biggest retailer in the United States, a title they would hold from the 1920s until 1989.  Sears would actually play an important role in the history of the United States, and even as they currently struggle to stay in business they have made a lasting impression on the history of America.

The Internet is to Amazon as the Mail was to Sears

 The 1900s in the United States is going to see the end of what many call the Wild West period.  Millions of Americans were living in rural areas with very few of the amenities city dwellers enjoyed.  Sears would build his empire on the desire for quality goods otherwise not available to these people.  Modeling the idea that Ward pioneered, Sears would send catalogs out to rural homes offering thousands of goods they could order.  The items were shipped out and they could pick them up at the local train station.  Sears was instrumental in bringing city comforts to the rural population of America.  It evened the social divide between farmers and city folk.  People could buy almost anything from Sears.  Clothes, veterinary supplies, hubcaps, or even houses were all offered for sale among the pages.  While Sears helped make America by helping to break a social divide between rural and urban people in the United States, they would play another big role in breaking a different divide in America.

Through the Mail, No One Can See the Color of Your Skin

The first half of the twentieth century in America was marked by a deep racial divide.  This was the height of the Jim Crow era when African Americans were legally second class citizens.  They were not afforded the same rights as non-colored citizens.  Not only was the discrimination legal, but there was also the de-facto discrimination.  Businesses did not have to treat non-white customers with any form of equality.  African Americans were barred from sitting at lunch counters with whites or using the same doors as whites to enter buildings.  With zero legal protection, there were limited options for African Americans to have a positive shopping experience.  Enter the Sears catalog.  Ordering merchandise through the mail was a colorless experience.  The people filing the orders had no way of knowing if the customer was white, black, or brown.  This allowed African Americans to shop within the relative safety of their homes.  They had access to the same items that whites had access too.  They didn’t have to settle for poor treatment and inferior goods at the local store, they could get quality merchandise through the mail.  Everyone was equal in the processing room of Sear’s warehouse.

In Conclusion

Sears may not be around much longer.  Wards closed its last store about fifteen years ago, and Sears may be following suit.  When the last store closes its doors and turns off the lights for the last time a chapter of American history will close with it.  Sears might get a passing mention in a few history classes, but its contributions to the history of the United States will go mostly ignored.  These are the stories that we can not afford to lose, and that we should not allow being forgotten.

Historia en Vivo | Living History: The Mission to Market Walking Tour

To connect with or learn more about N. Geremy Landin, please click the photo above!

Recently, The Western History Association had a conference in San Antonio, Texas. It was of no surprise to me that the participants of the conference were very interested in the history of San Antonio and the past of a city reborn.

As part of a course at St. Mary’s University, Dr. Teresa Van Hoy gathered a group of her brightest minds as well as a grad student (that would be me). Dr. Van Hoy engaged these students in research at the level of a graduate

Photo of Casa Navarro courtesy of Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio, Texas

student’s course. These students learned about everything from the battle of The Alamo, the historic Market Square, Casa Navarro, as well as La Villita and The Arneson Theatre. History of these past lives for the places that we were treading upon for the sake of history is important. The major history of the west was highly influenced by the past of Texas and the past of the Spanish settlers of the time.

Pierre, the undergraduate history major, explains The Alamo and the history captured in the historic shrine. Photo courtesy of Gateway Photography

The Alamo is probably one of the most mentioned historical sights of the city in terms of tourism and engagement but the truth of the matter is that there are so many places that are filled with love, hate, energy, and resentment. These places are the true places that affect lifestyles and changes in culture and security and these were those places that the students were talking about.

La Villita, for instance, was a very familiar sight for a local leader, Anthony Delgado, this sight was was more than an artists’ grounds or NIOSA fiesta sight. This compound is holy ground for Anthony. “La Villita” was the land previously owned by his ancestors and Anthony ensured that his history and his family’s past have stayed alive. As the previous president of the organization, “Los Bexarenos,” Anthony knows what it means to be a direct descendant of a people of strength and resilience. Throughout Anthony’s talk, the somber feelings of disbelief and wartime angst began to fill the audience with feelings that some could say only a San Antonian could know.

Photo of Anthony Delgado (former leader of Los Bexarenos organization) presenting the La Villita Historic sights to conferences goers of the WHA conference.

The tour continued and different important topics were discussed and thrown in along the way. There was color-commentary from the beginning until the end and some of those fun-facts just grabbed the attention of the audience. The interesting part of this living history was that history was being created just in the activity itself. Each participant was some sort of scholar of history or fan of the city and learned something new that they had not yet heard before. Up until that day I had not heard of Los Bexarenos. The knowledge was highly appreciated and the “tour in the rain” seemed to be the best part of any scholar’s visits to The Alamo City.

By no surprise, the students, including myself, were introduced to many scholars and writers. These people have continued to keep interest in the students and the leaders of the tour. Recently while sorting through emails, I found correspondence about visits to museums, programs, and schools nationwide as a result of this great tour opportunity.

The Mission to Market Walking Tour was a great opportunity, to say the least. The connections built, the memories made, and the history learned was worth the trot through the pouring rain.

Students from the Texas history course at St. Mary’s University, taught by Dr. Van Hoy huddle together to talk about Henry B. Gonzalez, an influential San Antonio leader. Photo courtesy of Gateway Photography.

Public history is a program at St. Mary’s University, but it is more than that. Public history students are able to take part in these types of programs due to the efforts of the program and the leadership guiding it. The students that are growing due to this program are more than the average graduate and undergraduate student. This cohort is learning to work with and engage the community. In my time as a student (5 years now), I have not felt so empowered until now. I can see the work that is being done, as well as the influence it has on local perception.

The walking tour sure was an opportunity of a lifetime. The walking tour was more than just an opportunity, but a necessary component for the careers of many students and conference-goers. The memory is now an internal archive of a project that became part of a class and a group of students’ journey.


History, Technology; The Blog and The Passion

to contact this author, click the photo above!

Publicly Historians? Publicly Modern Historians!

Interestingly enough, I have not been a “blogger” for very long but I can tell you this much, as a new student in the Public History program at St. Mary’s University I have grown to be many different things including a blogger. The students in the program have become bloggers, twitter-storians, Slack-ers, and have even hit the nail on the head with the Planner application as planners, innovators and do-ers. History, by the perspective of many, is this old dusty subject that student have to take in grade school. There is an understanding that the topic continues in some people’s lives through writing, and publications of research. The public knows of historians that work in libraries and museums pulling things of historical value out of an old vault or collection.

Transfiguration in History Nation (caution: bloggers in the making)

My colleagues, the fellow students, the professors and the undergraduate students around the Department of Public History at St. Mary’s have begun transfiguration to a new type of historian. The world is changing and we are changing with it. Looking at some of the applications that I shared up above here, I would think the main pivotal platforms are this blog (Publicly Historians), Twitter, and Slack. These three applications have helped re-innovate the way we think and work together in teams and as classmates. The applications started as a requirement to learn a new method of communication and dissemination of information but have since turned into a more preferred method of communicating and sharing than I originally imagined. Blogging however seems to be that one that has given me a new perspective on the capacity of a historian that is different than the traditional historians we have met in the past. Looking through our blog site has been interesting for me as I was considering this topic to. There are blogs that talk about the “mummy brown” paint color to the “Esperanza Peace and Justice Center” and even a blog on a historical project going on in the Westside San Antonio region. The students have jumped past just thinking about the topics themselves in relation to the course but they have also delved into some topics that are just interesting altogether and tried to incorporate the public history aspect of our field into their accounts. becoming a blogger in this day is important though. I have seen and heard of information being researched and written about and then nobody sees it or reads it. I’ve typed out a well thought out blog and attached some great photos and within a few minutes of posting might have a comment or a retweet and the feeling is great. The information that I spent time to gather information and share it shared within moments and at that time I know my research did some immediate good.

Not Just Procrastinators but “Slack-ers”

Now, you might be wondering what Slack is and believe me, I was wondering too. Slack is a platform used by different organizations as a collaborative online workspace. The neat thing about slack is that it works across most platforms including iOS (i-Phone), Android, Mac, Windows and Linux. It is user friendly and is pretty vibrant in color. The platform is pretty simple to use at first and only gets easier after you’ve had your first few conversations. Why is any of this important to the modern-day historian? Well, we are able to not just have a group message type conversation, we are able to schedule events, participate in polls, have side conversations with each other and create our own workflows with the application. We can share resources and blog ideas as well as just pertinent information in relation to the program with each other. We even have fun with it sometimes and share memes and other funny side notes.

P-interesting Huh?

So by now you may have though, “well Geremy, I am not a historian, so why does this matter to me?” It turns out that everyone isn’t a historian (big surprise there) but everyone is effected by these new methods. It could be in 10 years or it could be tomorrow that someone somewhere needs to know something about a topic that we are blogging, tweeting, slack-ing about and we now have these conversations and research topics posted somewhere that can be searched and can be used for future research. It is something worth caring about. The work we are doing is going to change the way historians conduct research in the future. The historian of the future will no longer Face-books all day long but could be searching one of our four-squares of informational platforms.

Historia Para Todos!

In honor of Hispanic Heritage month (9/15-10/15), I created a book display at my library to honor and celebrate a sampling of the many iconic Hispanic figures, ranging from artists like Frida Kahlo to activists like Emma Tenayuca and Cesar Chavez. In particular I wanted to highlight the Lil’ Libros book collection, which is a series of bilingual board books, each starring a different Latin American historical figure. These colorful picture books teach fundamental concepts such as numbers, colors, and shapes, translating the text in both English and Spanish. Board books are meant for babies and toddlers so that a love of learning can be instilled at the earliest age. My heart soared when I discovered this little book series because it was a wonderful representation of mi cultura y tradiciones.

Lil’ Libros book series for children

Hispanic Heritage Book Display at Schaefer Library

The Lil’ Libro series was created by Patty Rodriguez and Arianna Stein, two pioneering Latinas who were tired of not seeing themselves represented in the books they read to their babies. The series was created with the goal of “starting the bilingual learning journey with subjects that parents feel a connection with.” The resulting book series includes subjects such as La Llorona, the weeping woman known throughout Mexican folklore,  Cantinflas, an iconic Mexican comedic film actor, and 12 other Latin American figures.

In my personal journey I’ve come to realize just how important it is for individuals to feel they have a representation of themselves, their culture and their heritage in their everyday lives. I recently attended the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was fortunate to meet an extremely diverse group of library professionals from all over the country. One workshop I attended was called “Beyond the Racial Stalemate.” During this workshop, the participants and facilitators sat in a racial healing circle. I listened as these men and women relayed stories of oppression and racial injustice they had experienced throughout their lives and professional career. It was deeply saddening but also empowering to hear how they had overcome those injustices and continue to fight prejudice in their everyday lives. A recurring theme that I came across throughout the conference was the question of why Hispanics and other minority groups do not visit libraries. The answer is that they do not see a representation of themselves within their local library. This lack of representation can take many forms — there are no Spanish speakers to make them feel more comfortable in their native tongue, the collections do not represent their needs and interests, or simply because there are no staff members or patrons who look like them. I grew up in San Antonio, surrounded by my large, loving Mexican American family and in many ways, I inhabited a protective bubble. It was not until I attended the University of Texas at Austin that I truly felt like a minority. I lacked representation of my race and culture and it was an uncomfortable feeling. I personally knew a handful of Hispanic students who left school because they missed home and the comfort it offered. Thankfully I was able to persevere and graduate, but I’ve been in those shoes and I want to help others not to feel this way.

Libraries can become more welcoming spaces for latinx by hiring a diverse workforce and Spanish speakers. Libraries can also build up their bilingual collections and forge connections with latinx community leaders and gatekeepers. The Los Angeles County Public Library has gone one step further and created the iCount Initiative in an effort to remove barriers to equity for all communities. Library Equity Action Plans (LEAPs) are targeted to specific communities, such as latinx families or LGBTQ teens. Action plans include targeted training about how best to serve these communities and allocating resources to improve the overall  library experience of the target groups.

As public historians, we have an obligation to empower cultural groups to tell their own stories. I believe we can achieve this by promoting active engagement in the past. This is one of the many reasons I love the Lil’ Libros book series. Patty Rodriguez and Arianna Stein incorporate Latin American culture into children’s books and in doing so help to make libraries a more welcoming space for Hispanic families by giving them representation. Because we all deserve to feel like our stories are worth being told. Historia para todos!

Renaming a Place to Destroy an Identity

Place is a powerful thing.  Place is not just a dot on a map or a green street sign, place is a force that shapes people and cultures.  It dictates what clothes you wear and what foods you eat.  Our modern world has overcome the constrictions of place with our advance transportation networks, however this was not always the case.  Societies were defined by the land they lived on.  It was who they were as a people.  Many cultures saw themselves as living with the land, not just on it.  Where these people lived was part of their cultural identity.  When the European explorers first came to this continent they drew their maps and labeled the places they saw.  They paid no heed to the fact that these paces already had names, for they did not care.  The people living there were seen as uncivilized and savages, hardly worth noting.  Slowly, the Europeans began to change the Place.  With these changes new names were laid upon the land and its features.  The bitter fruits of their labors still scar the land as the place names we see on our maps.  At first it was done out of ignorance or possibly indifference to the native cultures, but later Europeans would use place names as part of their campaign of genocide against the native peoples.

McKinley vs Denali 

The fight over place names is literally sky high, as in 20,000 feet into the sky.  The tallest peak in North America has gone by many names.  The natives who lived in the area had many names for the peak, depending on what side of the mountain you lived on.  The Russians who explored the area had a different name for it, but it was based on the local languages spoken by the natives.  The name Mount McKinley would be hung on the mountain by a gold prospector being interviewed by the New York Sun in 1893.  The name gained permanence with the assassination of McKinley.

“I don’t like the name of Denali. It is not descriptive. Everybody in the United States knows of Mt. McKinley and the various efforts made to climb it. In consequence, both Mr. Yard and I think that the name McKinley should stick.” –Thomas Riggs Alaska Engineering Commission  1916

NPS Photo / Kent Miller

Riggs could have helped pass a law that would have reverted the name back to Denali, but his opposition caused the mountain to be named after a man who had no connection to Alaska.  The name controversy would simmer until 1975 when a bill was introduced in Congress to change the name back to Denali.  This attempt was blocked by the Congressional delegation from Ohio, McKinley’s home state.   They did not wish to have that tribute removed from the maps.  The delegation was successful for 40 years.  President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Jewell were able to put the Denali name back on the mountain.  President Trump nearly rekindled the controversy when he proposed undoing the name change.  He was talked out of it by the Senators from Alaska.

This tale illustrates how the history of the continent is ignored until the Europeans show up.  There were people living on this land for 10-15,000 years before Columbus’ boats showed up but to the Europeans that didn’t matter.  They came with the intention of exploiting the land and its people.  The renaming of places was in part to show people who was in charge of this land.

The Devil is in the Details

How do you find places in the United States that were sacred to the original inhabitants of the land?  Look for the devil.  Besides plastering European names on places in the Americas, the Europeans actively destroyed native culture by changing names of places.  Near Death Valley is a cave that is fed by an underground spring.  This area was sacred to the Timbisha People.  It was christened Devils Hole by the Europeans who came to the area.  Why would you call an important oasis “Devils Hole”?  The answer is, to destroy it’s non-Christian divinity.  Through it’s association with the devil, the newly Christian converts would no longer worship at their once sacred sight.   This process was repeated in many locations around the country.  Probably the most iconic example is Bear’s Lodge, or as it is known on the map, Devils Tower.

A sacred land to 6 different tribes.  Courtesy JT Sleeter Photography

Devils Tower is located in North Eastern Wyoming.  It is an unusual geological formation.  It rises over 1200 feet but it stands by itself.  there are no other peaks or neat it.  It was a sacred place to many of the tribes in the area and they all tell a story about the formation’s origin.   The common thread of the stories is that the rock was created by the spirits/ nature/ a god to save people from a bear attack.  When Christianity was

Different tribes had different names for it, but the most common was Bear’s Lodge. Courtesy JT Sleeter Photography.

brought to the area the formation was renamed Devils Tower to break the mystical connection the natives had with this area.  This was not a unique event, there are many more examples of this patter all over the country; almost every state has a Devils Lake, you can visit the Devils River in Texas, and Georgia is home to the Devils Valley.  All renamed in an attempt to force subjugated people to accept the religion of their European conquerors.

Arte y Corazón

Last week I had the opportunity to once again visit the Rinconcito de Esperanza to support the MujerArtes Women’s Clay Cooperative. To celebrate their one year anniversary in the the new earth block studio, the Esperanza Center hosted a celebration and week-long art sale.

Various art pieces for sale at the MujerArtes Casita

The mujeres who make up this cooperative use clay as a medium to illustrate historical snapshots of their lives. Each piece is intricately crafted, reflecting the artists’ cultural identity within her work. Since 1995, this program has welcomed a very diverse group of women to produce their art. These women commit to a certain number of studio hours per week, where they create artwork to sell to the community through various outreach programs. Although you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the artwork, most of these women are art novices, learning their craft alongside one another with the aid of an instructor and studio coordinator. Together, these women form a community, empowering each other through their shared passion of arte y cultura.

Calavera crafted from clay

My fiancé and I scanned the rows of clay artwork, searching for our perfect match. I like to collect tiles so I selected a Selena tile for myself and picked out an ornamental la Virgen de Guadalupe, or Virgin Mary,  for my grandma. My grandma was a migrant worker, as was my grandfather and their seven children. They traveled throughout the year, staying where the work was. I love to hear her stories about the past. My life is so vastly different from that of my grandma but through her stories about her life as a young girl, a mother, a migrant worker, and everything in between, I feel deeply connected to her. I went to visit my grandma later that day to give her la Virgen de Guadalupe I purchased for her at the art sale. She absolutely loved the gift and told me about the significance of the flowers that adorned the feet of la Virgen, the patron saint of Mexico.

Various la Virgen de Guadalupe artistic renderings at MujerArtes Casita

The flowers are symbolic, each kind specifying a virtue that the Virgin Mary exemplifies. These flowers include “the rose (Rosa canina), which was adopted as the emblem of Mary’s love of God; the white lily (Lilium candidum, Madonna lily), her purity; the myrtle (Myrtus communis), her virginity; and the marigold (Calendula officinalis), her heavenly glory.

As an aspiring Public Historian, I am inspired by the MujerArtes. It is wonderful to see their culture embraced and celebrated through transformative works of art. By creating a tangible piece of their past, they are helping to preserve it and spurring a continual conversation. By gifting the Virgin Mary shrine to my grandma, I was able to hear a story from her and learn something new. I am thankful to the Women’s Clay Cooperative for giving me a gift that opened up this conversation. I hope to capture the spirit of the MujerArtes in my professional career.

To learn more about these amazing and talented artists, take a look at their profiles here: MujerArtes Artists

Eating Your Way Through History

During my time in class this semester I have learned about the power of internet podcasts. One, in particular, has really caught my attention called, Stuff You Missed in History Class.  Listening to this podcast in my room as I am folding clothes I stumble upon an interesting interview. A woman by the name of Anne Byrn’s has written a book by the name of American Cookie. I don’t know if I was just hungry at the time or just the idea that a history podcast will be talking about cookie but something caught my attention.

The book is a mixture of a cookbook and a historical narrative. From the interview, anyone can see how much heart she has put not only in the research but in the recipes also. She speaks of having to decipher many of these recipes through trial and error due to many of them being lost in translation. It is easy to ignore or not even realize the importance of food culture is to the present and the past.

Cookies with different ingredients, fillings, and history

A great example she points out in her interview is women from New Orleans in the past century who could not make ends meet used food to survive. Lower class women would pass on recipes for candies, cookies, and brittles to their children. This is an important exchange because of the many upper-class women did not know how to make these goodies or were too nervous to even try. Working with candy was extremely difficult and dangerous even to this day. These lower-class women will sell these candies after church to the community in order to make the money needed to survive.

Ms. Byrn’s talks about the ingredients that go into every cookie and how they differ from region and state. For just being a cookie many would not think that there could be so many combinations. All the way down to different types of fats are used and how they can change through the generations that are being passed down by.

These are just some of the great aspects of this podcast and book. Bringing to light the interesting precedent food has on our past. Making me think of my own cultural sweets and how they may represent me and my past.

Technology and It’s Impact on the Future of Museums.

Photo by Chris Nguyen on Unsplash

Modern Technology

Technology can be a wonderful thing by bringing ease and comfort to our lives.  Medical advances have helped people live longer, communication devices allow people the ability to talk with each other on opposite sides of the planet, and people find entertainment from images that do not really exist. Technology has influenced the education field also. Educators can take their students on virtual field trips, primary source documents are at their fingertips, and even lectures at different learning levels can be watched in the classroom or even while riding the bus to or from school. Thanks to smart phone technology and the internet people literally hold the complete sum of human knowledge in their hands. For museums, this can be a blessing and a curse.

Photo by Erik Lucatero on Unsplash


Museums Benefit 

Technology has been a big benefit to museums in the gallery and behind the scenes.  The museum’s research mission receives a big boost from modern advancements in technology.  High tech scanners that use x-rays and magnetic spectrum imaging have allowed researchers to study objects in new ways.  As a result, researchers are able to gather more information that was previously impossible to uncover by using the old imaging methods.  This helps to give historians a clearer picture of the history  they are attempting to convey to the public.  Knowing the chemical makeup of a piece of pottery allows archaeologist to be able to trace its origins and learn how far the piece traveled when it was in use.  This information will aid researchers in recreating trade routes or migration patterns with less speculation and guess work.  In addition, the museum can preserve and restore pieces better than ever before by making use of modern technology.  New developments in areas like cooling and handling of materials will allow curators to preserve objects longer and keep them in better condition.  Being able to analyze materials allows a more authentic restoration of deteriorating items allowing the objects to survive longer.  The gallery can also make use of technology to give a better experience to visitors.  The use of tablets will allow guests to interact with the exhibits in ways that were impossible 20 years ago.  Enhanced reality allows peaks back in time for a clearer understanding of artifacts.  Enhancements like these bring the public in the door; however, there are problems that technology presents.

Museum Hindrances

The biggest drawback to incorporating technology in an existing museum is the cost.  Improving the museum and updating the infrastructure takes large amounts of money.  This can affect the museum in two ways.  The first being that there is not enough money to acquire new pieces for display.  In this situation, the director must make a decision between the ability to grow and enhance the collection or improving the experience for the guests.  The second is that the museum would be required to increase fundraising initiatives or find new sources of capital.  Technology will not work without proper financial support, and this could be a bigger problem for museums that are smaller and local.  These smaller museums do not have the resources for more advanced technologies like building a VR experience into their gallery.  Often museums will turn to corporate partners to be able to afford the improvements.  This approach does bring in the money, but walking through the Walmart Hall of Early Man does not bring an academic feel to the place.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Finally, museums also have to compete with home technology.  People are able to access photographs and in some cases virtual reality right from their couches.  Museums must be able to offer an experience that goes beyond what people can view at home.  Museums must continue to promote their collections and make them enticing enough to get people to log off and walk in.