Blog post 14 -The White House as a Black Box: Oral History and the Problem of Evidence in Presidential Studies by Russell L. Riley

In this article, Riley discusses the White House by using the metaphor of the “black box” (Riley 187) to describe the affairs that are performed within it. Riley discusses in relation to that on how oral history can be help in understanding the history of US presidents, but also talks about its limits. He argues that in using oral history through using interviews, it can be beneficial towards knowing more on the function within the White House and the presidency. Riley first goes into detail on the primary sources that can be acquired in studying the White House such as documents discussing its performance. One example that is given is the Executive Order 13233 that made by President George Bush after 9/11 had happened. This order restricted the amount of information coming in and out of the White house. This caused controversy in the public to the point that this order was then later removed. Riley then discusses the benefits of using oral history in relation to studying the White House and the US presidency. One of the benefits that Riley points out is that it fills in the empty spaces when looking at a written source on the White house. One example of this is the oral history project done by historian Charles T. Morrissey that made interviews in helping give more of a understanding to Truman’s presidency. However, there are limitations to using oral history as memory isn’t perfect. Memory can “fade over time” (Riley 200) and be distorted which can lead to limitations when doing interviews. Riley near the end of the article points out the usefulness of oral history and how it works differently to how evidences gain in relation to studying a specific US president. This article is overall pretty interesting in understanding the limits and benefits in oral history. It also give me more of a better understanding of oral history from what I previously knew.

Blog post 13 -Bergamot Balm and Verbenas: The Public and Private Meaning of Ornamental Plants in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century Midwest By Cheryl Lyon-Jenness

In this article, Lyon-Jenness discusses the cultural trend that happened in Michigan during the mid 19th century on people having ornamental plants. She points out that journals such as the Michigan Farmer and others had commented that having ornamental plants can make one’s house visually and aesthetically pleasing, but also they pointed out that “they had a positive moral influence on family members, and that they communicated the family’s virtue to the rest of the community” (Lyon-Jenness 202). In discussing this garden-based culture in Michigan during this time, Lyon-Jenness also emphasizes the social effects that this culture had on the mid 19th century Michigan communities. She points out that this “ornamental plant culture” (Lyon-Jenness 202) mirrored the person’s morality and certain values they hold in society based on how beautiful the front yards looks. One example that are referred to in this article are if a person makes their front yard in a orderly and precise way, then they are seen as having improved their own sense of morality and social values. However, if a person makes their yard in a messy fashion, then that person believed to be not interested in what they are doing. Lyon-Jenness further discusses the social impact that this culture had on Michigan society and in midwestern societies, but also focuses on three families and individuals in order to get a better understanding of its overall importance to society. One of those individuals that she discusses is Esther Lawrence. Lyon-Jennes goes into detail on discussing her life as well as her relationship with her family members and her interest in gardening. One example of her life is her routines in doing gardening and how she likes doing it. Lyon-Jennes near the end of this article points out how Esther related to the death of her plants to her son, Archie leaving her. Esther in turn had felt agony and regret from this, but she eventually looked to plant for contentment. This article overall is a bit intriguing to me as well as interesting to learn about this garden-based culture and its overall impact on society during this time.

Blog post 12 – Reading the Accidental Archive: Architecture, Ephemera, and Landscape as Evidence of an Urban Public Culture by Joseph Heathcott

In this article, Joseph Heathcott gives the narrative of the life of the Aufderheide family through the artifacts that they behind. Heathcott also discusses the artifacts in detail (such as notes and newspaper fragments) and tie them all together to tell the overall narrative of the “urban public culture” (Heathcott 239) in St. Louis during the late 19th to early 20th century. He also points out the important shifts that had occurred in the history of St. Louis that in turn affected change to the specific culture of the urban society. Heathcott also includes the important changes within the history of the city’s architecture (such as relating the history of Aufderheide family’s house that he and wife moved into) in this narrative. He discusses the demographics of St. Louis such as the German Americans and their impact to St. Louis both politically and educationally. Heathcott further discusses German Americans who lived in this city (such as the Aufderheide family) and in other parts of the US that helped shape the country as a whole. One example of a German American’s contribution to St. Louis is Henry Schaumberg, who was an architect that built this house (the Aufderheide family’s house) as well as constructing other homes as part of a “building boom that followed the 1904 World’s Fair” (Heathcott 249). He then discusses this house’s history further in relating it to specific members of the Aufderheide family and their daily life as well as relating to how it contributed to the rise of a lower middle class in urban society. Heathcott then refers near the end to the historian, Audrey Olson. Olson pointed out how that during World War I, German Americans such as in St. Louis were deeply impacted to the point where their influence in society was excluded from St. Louis’s culture. This article overall is interesting to how Heathcott analyzes the artifacts that were left behind by the Aufderheide family and relate to the overall history of St. Louis and the type of culture in urban society that shaped the US as a whole during this time.

Blog post 11 – Revolt: A Archaeological History of Pueblo Resistance and Revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico by Matthew Liebmann (Chapter 5: Rebuilding the Pueblo World, 1680-1683)

In chapter 5 of this book, Liebmann discusses that in studying the Pueblo region (specifically the Jemez), he uses archaeological methods to analyze the artifacts and Pueblo ruins left behind. This is done in order to help fill in the empty spaces and construct the history of the Pueblo Revolt. This is also done so that Liebmann could get a better understanding of what had occurred within the time span of the Pueblo Revolt and build upon it by looking at the architecture and material culture. Before he delved into analyzing the Pueblo settlements, he discusses that the Jemez people had originally lived in a village called San Diego de la Congregación. In this village they had rid it of the colonial Spanish presence, killed a Franciscan friar (one person that didn’t escape like the others), and “burned the [whole] village to the ground” (Liebmann 84). They soon moved to another area to then begin a new life by building a new village, Patokwa. Liebmann then goes into detail on the architecture and layout of the village. He used the available evidence that he could find such as the material culture that helped in figuring out that the specific time of when Patokwa was built.  There were limitations to the methods used when analyzing the Pueblo ruins of Patokwa in relation to the number of people that had lived in Patokwa. Liebmann points out that he and other scholars could only guess the number of people that had occupied the rooms of the building. Liebmann mentions that one scholar, Karen Dohm, she made the educated guess that about “598 persons” lived in Patokwa (Liebmann 93). Liebmann also discusses in this chapter that the Jemez’s village was open to attacks by neighboring tribes such as by the Ute. He points out that from recovering from these attacks, it had created a divide within the Jemez people that created two sides. One side wanting to leave to find a place that is easier to defend while the other side believed that they should stay as well as that they can defend against any attacker. This chapter overall is quite interesting in how Liebmann goes into detail on what can be interpreted and understood from the Peublo ruins like Patokwa. This chapter does give me a better understanding when it comes to analyzing the remains of a settlement and knowing what can be interpreted from it.

Blog post 10 – Revolt: An Archaeological History of Pueblo Resistance and Revitalization in 17th Century New Mexico by Matthew Liebmann (introduction)

In the introduction of this book, Liebmann discusses the Pueblo Revolt that were from 1680 to 1696 and compares this Native American revolt to other revolutions such as the American Revolution and French Revolution. He also compares this revolt to other rebellions against colonial powers from around the world. Liebmann begins by summarizing the history of the Pueblo Revolt and discusses the how the revolt started with a prophecy given by the prophet, Po’Pay. He then discusses that his main goal in discussing the Pueblo revolt is that he is not going to retell the same findings as previously done by other scholars who have studied this event, but is going to go about discussing the Pueblo Revolt in a different way. Liebmann also hopes to clear up the conflicting evidence and facts about the Pueblo Revolt such as the Jemez looking towards saints to protect them in fighting the Spaniards, although they were anti-Catholic. In comparing this revolt (with Native American Revolts)  to other revolutions, it is seen by scholars as a not fitting into the western model of what constitutes as a revolutions. Liebmann’s main argument in this book, is that he will investigate the Pueblo Revolt through the subaltern aspects of the revolt, the revitalization movement of culture, and the significance of symbols used. In relation to revitalization movements, Liebmann points out that there were striking comparisons found between Po’Pay and Jesus Christ. These comparisons included that both were charismatic prophets and that state officials whipped them in public for similar reasons. Near the end of this introduction, Liebmann discuss the problems to studying this event and Native American history in general through archaeological means. One example that he points out is when NAGPRA (Native American Grave Protection and Repriation Act) was passed in 1990 by Congress. There was the concern that archaeological methods used for studying Native American history would soon wither away as Native Americans were given the right to keep important artifacts and burials. In reality, that was the case, but Liebmann proposed a solution where Native American burials are not dug up. This solution was that archaeologists should analyze the burial from the surface rather than excavate them. This introduction of this book overall is quite interesting, but also give a good insight towards knowing how to research Native American history with its limitations. It is also interesting to learning about revolts different to revolutions like the French and American Revolution.

Blog post 9 – Cartographic Memories Of Slavery and Freedom by Stephen P. Hanna

In this article, Hanna discusses the life of John Washington, who was a former African American slave that managed to learn how to read and write with the help his mother and the pastor of a Baptist church. John more importantly was able to draw a map of Fredericksburg that contain key places and locations that he recorded as important to him, but also for his personal memory as a slave and used it in his escape to freedom. Hanna points out the his maps is unique compared to other maps made by cartographers in that it gives a portrayal of a landscape done in the eyes of African American slave and as part of his freedom from slavery. Hanna further explains that with drawing a map of his own experiences as a slave, John also wrote a memoir in 1873 discussing his life from being born a slave to his emancipation as a freed man. His memoir discusses his life during the US Civil War to after the Civil War and during the Reconstruction period. His map was interpreted by scholars such as Crandall Shifflet who originally saw it as a simple drawing, but soon regards J.B. Harley’s argument on the use of map by historians and why they should be used as historical texts. Other scholars such as Denis Wood similarly argue to Harley that maps are not meant to reflect reality, but maps show the context of society that it was based on. In John’s map for instance he notes place of significance such as Shakespeare House where he was hired to work at to his railroad journeys and his involvement in the Civil War as well as within the Reconstruction era. The main purpose for the map was to convey his life as a slave and connect with other experiences of African American slaves. Hanna also points out how it is important to understand his acquired education and the available resources he used in making the map such as the Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Although in relation to his memoir, Hanna explains that there are limitations to knowing what his intentions were in writing it. Hanna then emphasizes how John Washington’s map has an overall importance to communicating the social contexts at the time and understanding the difficult lives of African American slaves had to endure. This article is very interesting to know that a map was created for different purpose than compare to maps made by cartographers.

Blog post 8 – “The New Nature of Maps: Essays in the History of Cartography” by J.B. Harley

In this first chapter, Harley discusses the problems and limitations that maps have when used as a primary source by historians. He also points out the problems in how historians study the history of cartography. He discusses that maps are an issue when used as a primary source in trying to answer a limited amount of questions aimed at a specific form of historical research, but there are solutions to knowing how to used maps in a way that can be both helpful and useful in researching. In order to understanding how to use a maps in historical research, Harley explores the question on what maps are and how they relate to other primary sources such as photographs, paintings, and music. Other important questions that the author argues should be answering at when studying maps is knowing what are the map’s context in the relation to its creator to what their contexts compare to other maps and to knowing what is the societal context of that map has. In one solution that Harley discusses in relation to how should historians treat maps as a primary source is that maps even though they don’t contain written words as a book source, they should be used as a textual source because both books and maps share similar aspects in interpreting the world as a whole and its history. They are different since maps carry a nonverbal language and communicates via using images like showing seas, oceans, countries, and continents. Harley in discussing the three important questions for interpreting maps, he explores different question within each of the three questions concerning to questions in explaining how they should be interpreted. One example in relation to one of three questions being the map’s contexts compare to other maps, the two of the four questions discussed relate to knowing what the relationship of the map is compared to present day maps and knowing what relationship the map has compared to other maps made in a similar way. In this section of the chapter, Harley points out three different methods in looking and studying maps. One of the three methods that he explains is that one should look at place-names when studying maps such as cities and rivers. Although the problem that one might come across when studying place-names on a map is language in relation to how the name is pronounced or read as it is read and spoken differently between how a Native American reads or says it and a European says it and reads the name. This chapter overall is in a way fascinating and interesting as I would like to learn more about using maps as primary sources and get a better understanding of them.

Blog post 7 – Chapter 2, The Port: Shipping and Trade (and Notes) by Alejandro de la Fuente

In chapter 2 of this book, Fuente discusses the port city of Havana in its significance as a Atlantic port city made from its commercial trade and shipping. Fuente discusses in the beginning of this chapter on how Havana was linked with Europe and to Africa within a interconnected trade system. He points out that Havana’s trade routes in Europe being connection through Seville and Canary islands and Africa’s trade route connections from the Cape Verde islands to different slave factories such as along the Guinea and Angola coasts. Fuente also points out that these trade routes with each location in that they were somewhat relying on the other when it came to the amount of wealth they had. The goods that the author explains are problematic in keeping track of, was the amount of food that was coming into and out of Havana. The examples being the exports of sugar, flour, bread, and biscuits from Havana. He mentions other kinds of trade that impacted Havana with the products that came in and out of the port city as well as from other Spanish colonies and Europe such as the intercolonial trade and the Atlantic slave trade. In the Atlantic slave trade, Fuente discusses how the Spanish monarchy granted permission for the slave trade through the asientos and the regulated the exports of slaves from Africa and other islands such as the Canary islands. The Spanish monarch also regulated the importation of slaves into the New world, but outlawed specific types of slaves to sent to the New World. One example of slaves that were prohibited were the Wolofs which are slaves that were known to being defiant and rebelling, but they were brought to Havana. The introduction of the asientos to Havana had helped its economy grow as well as increase the city’s population. In relation to the intercolonial trade, Fuente points out that trade between the colonies benefited Havana’s economy as being part of the interconnected trade system with Spain. The importation and exportation of food is also important in that the author discusses how Havana and the colony of Florida were closely connected in a economic sense. This chapter overall is interesting in how the author describes in detail and provides charts on Havana’s role in commerce and trade as well as the emphasis on the products imports and exports into Havana with their overall impact to the port city. In looking at his notes, it is interesting to see he used sources like one on silk production in Europe such as in Lyon and Spain relating to silk being imported into Havana.

Blog post 6 – Havana and the Atlantic in the Sixteenth Century by Alejandro de la Fuente

In this excerpt, the author discuss the attack on the port city of Havana by the French pirate, Jacque de Sorés on July 10, 1555. Fuente also goes into detail on the history of Havana establishment before the event and the role of the Spanish colonization in Cuba and in the Americas. He goes into detail in discussing other towns in Cuba such as San Cristobal in relation to Havana. The overall role and purpose for the creation of Havana is discussed as the author points out that Havana was constructed as a strategical position for the Spanish Empire and was a crucial port for transportation and trade between in the New World and the Atlantic. Fuente discusses the significance of how the attack and destruction of Havana by Sorés had in turn impacted the Spanish Empire to decide to better fortify their ports like Havana in improving its defenses from future attacks. They also needed to bring more men to diversify the existing population as Havana had few Spanish men and mostly African Americans and Native Americans of which were relied on in terms of defense and making supplies. Fuente also discusses the problem towards the lack of historiography and the lack of research done on port cities. He points out that it is important that historians study port cities in the Americas in order to gain a better understanding of the European port cites’ role in terms of economics. The author also points out that in studying port cities, one can get a better understanding toward the social, economical, political, cultural, and religious aspects with studying the different port cities at this time. This excerpt overall is quite interesting and does make me a little curious in learning more about port cites in Cuba and other places in the Americas during the sixteenth century.

Blog post 5 – History and the Internet by Jenny L. Presnell

This chapter reading discusses the benefits and drawbacks to the Internet in doing historical research. This chapter also discusses ways on how to do Internet searches more effectively, so that one doesn’t waste their time or continue to search for a very long time with finding no results on a specific topic of research. Presnell points out various different sites that contain specific types of sources such as primary sources that can be helpful for one’s research on a specific topic. Some examples of sites that are discussed are Internet History Sourcebooks (this site contains primary sources) and The American Historical Association (this site contains documents, policies, and activities of organizations). Presnell refers to Historian Carl Smith’s article on how to effectively research on the Internet and know if the specific websites found are useful to the person doing the historical research. The websites that are included are those in searching for sources such as from primary sources to bibliographies to reference sources and to secondary sources. Presnell in this chapter also discusses useful tips in searching and points out the key essential things to know how to use the Internet including types of browsers like Firefox and Safari as well as discussing the different types of search engines such as PDF documents and Powerpoint files. Presnell goes into detail on how to easily search for results such as using Boolean search terms (like “and” or “or”) because one reason discussed is that there are subjects that are not managed on the Internet and one must type in phases in the search engines to more easily do research. The author near the end of the chapter discusses how to find primary sources and points out the problems that one might encounter like how it well preserved or damaged it was when scanning it. The solution that Presnell points outs useful ways in which to find primary sources on websites as well as the quality of that website contain the primary sources. This chapter overall is very helpful to me with knowing how to do historical research and quite interesting. This chapter does gives me a better understanding to knowing how and what websites are useful when doing research on a specific topic.