Russell L. Riley, “The White House as a Black Box”

Riley begins this article by noting that “the intricacies of White House behavior have always been kept largely out of public view” (188).  He notes that “in this environment, oral history interviews are an especially valuable resource.1 Indeed, presidential oral history is a useful antidote for each of the two major problems now confronting students of the White House: it can serve to fill in substantive gaps in an increasingly sporadic executive paper trail, and it provides to a broad community of scholars new data they can use to refine their thinking about Washington politics while awaiting the opening of the written record”  (188).  Riley then discusses how scholars gain information from speeches, conferences, and various bills, but he notes that “as the black box metaphor suggests, these outputs often say very little, with clarity or precision, about the complexities of decision making inside the White House” (189).  Riley notes that the most common source of knowledge that scholars gain is from the press.  For instance he explains that “the White House presentation of a story – what more commonly today has become known as its‘spin’– may actually conceal more than it reveals” (189).  Next Riley discusses the internal documents that have been located by the scholars.  Typically these documents are just internal paperwork (191).  But as Riley notes, “the most important opening of White House records in recent decades during a president’s term of office has occurred not because of press inquiries or presidential benevolence, but because of investigations of alleged executive wrongdoing – by those armed with the power of subpoena” (192).  Next, Riley discusses that the last source scholars use in order to gain information about the White House is the memoir – recollections of what occurred in the White House (195).  Riley then discusses the values of oral history by stating ” it salvages the only historical source available: individual memories” (195).  Riley does note that even with written records, they  “routinely contain important gaps and omissions” (196).  Lastly, Riley discusses the availability of Presidential Oral History and notes that it depends of which president and the overall presidency itself depends on how much information scholars can retrieve (202).

Charyl Lyon-Jenness, “Bergamot Balm and Verbenas”

Jenness opens up this article noting how “in 1879 S. Q. Lent, a commentator for the Michigan Pomological Society” noted when traveling through Michigan, one will notice that “it is a rare exception to find a single farm on which something has not been done toward the ornamenting of the premises” (201).   Jenness notes that midwesterners began to write in journals, articles, and newspapers that “ornamental plants were a particularly appropriate way to make home attractive, that they had a positive moral influence on family members, and that they communicated the family’s virtue to the rest of the community” (202).  Jenness continues to discuss how “domestic reformers, horticultural advisers, and commercial nurserymen” would advertise these ornamental plants by “advocating shade trees and flowering shrubs” and would assign “public meaning to ornamental plant culture” (203).  These ornamental plants were thought of as illustrating the intelligence and well-mindedness of the individuals living inside the house (203).  As noted by Jenness, “Flourishing flower beds or stately shade trees, along with well-kept dooryards and neatly mown lawns, were quiet yet very public reminders of middle-class values and respectability” (203).  Jenness then continues by asking “What did ornamental plants mean to the families who cultivated them?” (204).  Jenness discusses two families, the Lawrence and Buell, and the significance behind the diaries left from them describing their daily activities and life regarding cultivating these ornamental plants.  Jenness then notes that “ornamental plant chores not only required a commitment from all family members, but as Esther’s diary revealed, demanded attention throughout the year” (210).  Furthermore, Jenness notes that by looking at the diaries, “in the Lawrence and Buell households, both male and female family members appeared to find ornamental plant care important enough to alter work patterns and family interactions to meet its demands” (212).  Jenness notes how from looking over these diaries and journals, Jenness collected that “over the years, the Lawrence and Buell families not only altered patterns of daily life and neighborhood interactions to accommodate their interest in ornamental plants, but actively used flowers and trees as ways to cement and signify family bonds” (216).  Overall, Jenness notes the importance of ornamental plants not only to the society, but to the families growing these plants themselves.  These plants made connections, strengthened relationships, and built an inter-connected community.

Heathcott “Reading the Accidental Archive”

Heathcott begins by discussing the artifacts found within the Aufderheide collection (239).  He notes how “researchers in material culture typically triangulate sources in order to develop robust interpretive frameworks and strategies” (240).  Heathcott then states how the artifacts left by the Aufderheide family does not represent a higher-class home, but rather a middle-class identity (241).  Then, Heathcott discusses embedded artifacts by discussing how the Aufderheide property “becomes place through the accumulation of ‘improvements’ over time, such as sewers, grading, house, garage, utilities, retaining walls, fences . . .” which traces lives, various fashions and customs used (241).  Next, Heathcott discusses the “Urban, Civic, and Neighborhood Landscapes of St. Louis” (243).  He notes the division of the German Immigrants prior, during, and post the Civil War (243).  Even thought the city became industrialized fast and became wealthy, their was uneven distribution among the people – tenements, middle class, high class housing (243).  Heathcott then notes the “social frameworks of an urban public culture” by noting how “the dwellings around Tower Grove Park contained small, ethnically diverse families, with the exception that no African Americans resided in the neighborhood” (247).  Furthermore, he notes the most important character of the community – “the occupations of the heads of the household and their working dependents” (248).  He describes that surrounding Tower Grove Park, most individuals were self-employed, “middle managers and supervisors in business concerns, and educated professionals” (248).  Some earned income by “offering services from their home,” but mostly, individuals “were white-collar professionals, managers, and staff employed by larger business operations” (248).  Next, Heathcott discusses “architecture and the petite Bourgeoisie” by describing how the house and its surrounding neighbors are in a “clearly demarcated status in the urban hierarchic” (249).  A very important note that Heathcott mentions is that the “democratic character of the middling housing stock around Tower Grove Park unfolded in tension with nearby elite neighborhoods” and notes how “the building and the paper fragments form a mutually constitutive archive, one that revels the elated yet anxious world that the petite bourgeoisie carved out for itself in the early twentieth-century city” (251).  Next, Heathcott discusses the “forging identity and connectivity in daily urban life” by discussing how the urban experience of these middle-class families was their effort to “pursue their cherished individualism through connection to broader civic and commercial networks” (257).  Heathcott then discusses the social effect of clothing on the society at this time and how “clothes constituted a system of meaning for middle-class men and women” (258).  Also, Heathcott notes the impact of advertisements on class and gender (258).  In his conclusion, Heathcott notes how the architecture and material artifacts discovered “suggest profound inner conflicts and contradictory impulses” by lead to a “thick network of civil, religious, and commercial institutions” (267).

Read Matthew Liebmann, “Rebuilding the Pueblo World, 1681-1683” (blog)

Liebmann begins Chapter 5 discussing “Conflagration and Migration” (83).  A Pueblo messenger come to Jemez and announced that the Revolt began two days earlier than planned and stated to “take up arms and kill these Spaniards and friars who are here” (83-84).  The Jemez, according to a 1689 account, humiliated and killed priest Fray Juan (84).  Po’pay began to encourage the Jemez to destroy Christianity which happened to also be destroying their own land (84-85).  Liebmann then discusses “Patokwa: Village of the Turquoise Moiety” by starting with describing that the Jemez went north to “start their lives over again” and built a new pueblo known as Patokwa (85).  Liebmann then discusses the look of the Patokwa by describing it as having “two large rectangular plazas, surrounded by mounded roomblocks in all four of the cardinal directions” (87).  Next, Liebmann notes the mapping of Patokwa and discussed how they used a primary tool in mapping the Patokwa called “total station” which is “an electronic surveying instrument that records the precise location of points across the landscape (88).  After, Liebmann discusses the process of the construction by noting the “ladder-type” construction of the building of Patokwa.  Because of this, Liebmann notes that the “ladder construction requires coordination and control of labor above the household level because it is typically undertaken by cooperative communal work groups rather than individual family unites” (90).  Liebmann then discusses how to estimate the people at Patokwa by considering “the estimated number of occupied rooms at a site” to determine the past Pueblo population (93).  After that, Liebmann discusses “raids and factionalism” in 1681 through 1683 and notes that “defensibility was probably a major factor in the architectural planning of the village” (95).  Continuing with factionalism in the early 1680s, Liebmann note show factionalism was quite common and frequent within the Pueblo societies.    Next, Liebmann discusses “Boletsakwa: Pueblo of the Abalone Shell” (100).  Boletsakwa is a mesa that it higher in elevation and has much more vegetation compared to Patokwa (101).  Liebmann then discusses the mapping of Boletsakwa by using similar techniques used when mapping Patokwa such as tge total station technique (103).  Liebmann notes that the “major difference between the two sites is the significantly higher visibility of many of the rooms and walls at Boletsakwa (103).  Liebmann then discusses the rooms at Boletsakwa and noted that their “investigations documented 168 ground-floor rooms at the Revolt-era component of Boletsakwa” (105).  Lastly discussed by Liebmann was the population at Boletsakwa in which he mentions that “there are no known historical records regarding the population of Boletsakwa,” but they calculated that their “is an estimated population of 451 inhabitants” gathered by their research (108).

Matthew Liebmann, “Introduction”

The article starts out discussing the surrounding of the Jemez by enemy soldiers and their decision to chose “death over surrender” (1).   Liebmann mentions how the Jemez knew about the future attack of the Spaniards on their village (1).  Both the Spaniards and the Jemez described this intervention as being attributed to “the intervention of the saints” (2).  Next, Liebmann discusses Po’pays Prophecy.  Fourteen years previous to the attack previously mentioned, Po’pay appeared stating that he “received a revelation from the spirits” and that the spirits said “the Spaniards must die” (3).  On August 10, 1680, Po’pays Prophecy was finally realized and the Pueblo Indians united with their allies and attacked the colonial settlers (3).  Next, Liebmann discusses “Pariahs and Paladins: The Romance and Tragedy of Native Revolts” (4).  Liebmann notes how in previous accounts of history, most actions taken by Native Americans were viewed as “savagery,” but recently, “Native American revolts occupy a unique place in the American consciousness” (4-5).  As noted by Liebmann, these revolts tend to be noted as failures because of their lack of correspondence to Eurocentric ideals (6).  Furthermore, he notes that “Native American revolts tend to follow to basic plotlines: that of romance or tragedy” (6).  Then, Liebmann discusses the metahistory if the Pueblo Revolt and the little attention it received from historians and how that is problematic to the historical field (6).  Next, Liebmann discusses historical anthropology and how the “patterns in the Pueblo Revolt . . . are characteristic of anticolonial liberation movements worldwide” (10).  Next, he discusses the subaltern resistance of the Pueblo peoples noted that the marginalized group during this revolutions were “women, children, ethnic minorities, disenfranchised groups, enslaved persons, nonliterate members of society, and indigenous peoples” (12).  Furthermore, Liebmann focuses on the revitalization movements and defines it as “a calculated, methodical effort to reform culture and society that frequently occurs in colonial situations” such as “situations of stress or rapidly shifting power relations” (14-15).  Getting closer to the end, Liebmann begins to discuss the “signs of struggle and the struggle over signs” (17).  He notes how the colonial domination of a society can effect all aspects of colonial life (17).  Going into “collaborative archaeology in the Jemez province of New Mexico,” Liebmann notes how the documents during this time illustrate the “drastic changes in settlement patterns, architecture, ceramic production, and trade” (19).  Lastly, Liebmann introduces the surface archaeology as a “noninvasive research strategy” (22).  First, Liebmann notes that there can be no disturbance of human remains, no destruction of nonrenewable resources, and lastly, sites are compliant to surface studies” (22-23).

Stephen P. Hanna, “Cartographic Memories of Slavery and Freedom”

This article describes a slave from Fredericksburg, VA named John Washington.  John Washington was taught how to read and write, and was given experiences that was not typical for a slave such as working around Fredericksburg and gaining the experience of the world around him (50).  Then, Hanna explains how John left his ‘home’ and went over to a Union army camp to finally gain his freedom (51).  In 1873, Washington because a house and sign painter in Washington, D.C. and decided to write a memoir about his time in Fredericksburg, which included maps (51).  Washington’s map was not a normal map, but instead was a map that represented his personal experiences while in Fredericksburg (51).  Hanna notes that historians would interpret the meaning behind Washington’s memoir, but would disregard the map (51).  Hanna notes that because Washington drew this map without accuracy or the technology, it is often disregarded even though it still contains important information (52).  Hanna notes that indeed, this map was not created to help someone navigate around Fredericksburg, but it is important because it helps historians understand Washington’s perspectives and experiences as a slave.  Hanna further notes that historians need to see maps as both textual representations and material practices (53).  Hanna then discusses how maps (planter landscapes) were made in order to show poor whites and slaves what the elite white individuals did not know (54).  Slaves were controlled by whites throughout their whole life.  As Hanna states, “In contrast to the anger and sadness expressed in his description of these systems of control, Washington takes great delight in detailing the moments and spaces he took to escape this control (55).  Washington created this map to illustrate his happiness, his freedom, his enjoyment.  Hanna then discusses how Washington gained access as a slave to the insight of being a cartographer.  Hanna notes, “While Reconstruction did not lead to the full citizenship that the newly emancipated sought, educational and economic opportunities for men like Washington expanded greatly” (56).  Even though he gained access and experience, his memory was still a very important aspect to his map making (58).  For 134 years, this map was never publicly displayed due to the passing down of the map through generations, but as Hanna notes, “Since its publication in 2007, however, Washington’s map and the experiences of slavery, resistance, and emancipation it represents are open to new subjects performing the map within new contexts” (60).

J. B. Harley, “Texts and Contexts in the Interpretation of Early Maps

Harley discusses that out of all the documents used by historians, maps are indeed well-known, but are very difficult to understand (34).  Historians tend to place maps under written evidence because of the inaccuracy placed on maps (34).  As noted, these maps are seen as being “slippery,” “dangerous,” and “unreliable” (34).  The author wants to answer the question of how and why map usage has such a bad reputation.  First, Harley notes that the study of maps is not a huge interest among historians (34).  Harley further discusses that maps are related to mirrors in which they are a “graphic representation” of the world (35).  But Harley argues that maps “redescribe the world – like any other document” (35).  Harley then notes how even though maps may not use written world, they use symbols and signs in order to illustrate the meaning behind the map which historians can use to their advantage (36).  Then, Harley distinguishes her argument by naming 3 aspects: “1) the context of the cartographer 2) the contexts of other maps and 3) the context of society” (38).  For the context of the cartographer, historians note that the maker of the map is not directly correlated to the map that historians have now (38).  Next, Harley describes the context of other maps; the relationship one map has with other maps (41).  She notes how in her study, a “corpus of related maps is built around the single map” (42).  Furthermore, Harley discusses how place-names or toponymy  “offer a way of constructing genealogies and source profiles for previously scattered maps (43).  Harley’s last aspect, the context of society, discusses the relationship of interpretation between an individual and a society (44).  Every map is cultural, therefore, the maps were made for the society of that culture, not outside of that society (44).  Harley then discusses the rules of cartography by saying that the main strategy for a cartographer is to identify the”rules of the social order” (45).  Lastly, she discusses the meaning of maps by understanding what that map meant when it was first produced to society (46).

Alejandro “The Port: Shipping and Trade” and “Notes”

The author discusses the movements of ships and how even though it may have seemed chaotic and unorganized, it was a rather “complex system” (11).  The integrated system consisted of commercial circuits, specifically mentioning the transoceanic circuit (11).  The author then goes into detail discussing how importance Havana is as a shipping port because it “was one of the few places in the Americas where these circuits converged and the only port where all the returning vessels came together before sailing back to Europe” (12).  Next, the author discusses how the sources available helped reshape the shipping movement in Havana (12).  as noted, in the mid 1580s, the Havana shipping movement grew and continued for the next ten years (13).  Due to all of this, Havana served the role “as a regional trading center” specializing “in the reexportation of colonial commodities” (14).  Soon after, the author notes how these colonial commodities reflect colonial territories (17).

Various colonial commodities were then mentioned such as silver, indigo, dye, and logwood (17-19).  Furthermore, the author discusses how the largest transatlantic import to Havana is wine (22).  Competition arose from Havana because Mexico came into the industry with silk fabrics that were being produced in New Spain or were made out of Chinese silks (28).  Other than fabrics, the textiles being produced in Havana at this time were “ribbons, galloons, trimmings, laces, and decorative accessories” (31).

The Atlantic Slave Trade is then discussed how the “system of asientos was beneficial to Havana’s economy” because “slave imports in the city grew significantly in the late sixteenth century” (37).  Then, difficulties with the slabe trade were discussed such as trying to trace slaves through the inter-colonial slave trade, illegal transactions, etc. (39-40).  Intercolonial trade was then discussed and how the intercolonial exchanges benefited and boosted trade in Havana, both locally and nationally (44).  Next, the author talked about insular trade and how food was the priority in the interior of Havana (47).

Jenny L. Presnell, “History and the Internet”

Presnell begins the article discussing the benefits of the internet such as being able to provide a variety of information while connecting both the teacher and learner (136).  One of the downsides Presnell notes is that the internet has no organization which can waste the time of the researcher (136).  Presnell lists several kinds of “serious history” that can be found on the web such as primary sources now being digitized on the internet so that way many individuals can gain access to these documents (138).  Furthermore, bibliographies, government documents, specialized reference sources, secondary sources, communication, and syllabi (138-140).  Then, Presnell goes over the basics of how to use the internet – describing how to pick a browser, search for information, etc. (142-143).  Next, Presnell discusses how to find primary sources.  To me, this was the most important part for a historian because sometimes it is very difficult to find a primary source.  She says to browse academic sources first (152).  Then, use several various search engines to try to narrow down your options (152).  If you are looking for a particular primary source, Presnell notes that you should add that as a key term in your researching (152).  Also, I learned about H-net which is essentially a blog that discusses real-world issues (so cool) (153).  Next, Presnell notes how to evaluate sites concerned with primary sources by looking at the quality of the scans and the documents, searchability, bibliography/webliography, and interpretive and descriptive materials (154-155).  Lastly, Presnell discusses a case study looking at Japanese Americans and Internment Camps to illustrate the importance of researching with keywords, search engines, etc.


Extra Credit – Talking History

Today, I went to the Talking History discussion of “Oral History on the Rappahannock, from the Mountains to the Bay,” by Dr. Sellers and Mr. Walker.  The discussed how the Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) use history to connect the community and history to the Rappahannock River.  The goal is to help people gain a better understanding of the river and to hopefully open the eyes of our locals about the importance.

Both Sellers and Walker described that they started their independent with the focus of the Embrey Dam Removal, which was built in 1910 and taken down in 2004.  They discussed the benefits of taking this dam down since it allowed migratory fish to move into their traditional spawning areas for the first time since 1910.  They also noted the increase in environmental activism and eco-tourism (people are now coming here to paddle).  Sellers and Walker also said that the Rappahannock is now the longest free-flowing river on the east coast.

Next, Sellers and Walker discussed the interviewing process that they went to in order to get research for this independent study.  For instance, Walker noted that interviewing has a lot of issues such as: interviewee’s age, health, and availability, their comfort and willingness.  Also, they had an issue with gatekeepers – having to go through one person to get information from another.  On the positive note, Sellers noted how this is new historical knowledge – new primary information.

Furthermore, Walker discussed other challenges they faced when retrieving their information.  Walker noted how transcripts was an issue because the transcriber did not know how to transcribe the language from the Chief of the Rappahannock River because she used Indian names for locations.  Also, linguistics is an issue because Walker wanted the removal or “um” and “you know” from the transcript, but he noted that it could be an issue because it could take away from the linguistics at this time.  Walker did further note that he does want to try to save vernacular of the individuals he interviewed.

Overall, this talk was very interesting and really opened my eyes to how little I know about the Rappahannock River, and I have lived around here since 2001.  The Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) should be discussed more often so that the community knows that individuals can make a difference.