Proctor Video

It took me a while to watch the Nancy Proctor video partly because, like Clete, I didn’t check my Broncomail. Also, once I read my e-mail (after class on Monday) I wanted to watch on my big PC monitor, but was frustrated with the audio. I finally ended up getting out a little laptop (one that my 83 year-old, rather tech savy father handed down to me) that I rarely use and plugged in the ear buds. The sound was really great.

I think my feelings about mobile devices in museums may be evolving. I’ve had this idea that people would pay more attention to their mobile devices than the actual exhibit, but I’m not sure I think that anymore. I have often used audio tour devices in museums because I find them more informational than reading signage on the walls. Though I sometimes get annoyed out and about in the world by how often people have ear buds in their ears, in a museum I appreciate being able to cut out other distractions and to concentrate on the exhibits. Now I have this shiny, new iPod Touch and I want to be able to use it. I really would like to be able to take my own device into a museum and access information from it. I used to spend lots of time looking up supplemental information before or after a trip to a museum… back in the dark ages from a big, multi-volumed, out-of-date encyclopedia. Now I could access extra information while I’m at the exhibit while it is fresh on my mind.

After seeing even a little bit of what is involved with getting a small-scale mobile project to “work” I think it is even more important that mobile devices be part of classes in public history. If the mission of a museum is to “provide access, education and interpretation to all audiences” then museum visitors are going to expect uses of new technology. Students who want careers in museums or as public historians need exposure and practical experience and time to think about any how new technology fits into their work.

Government agencies

I don’t have a story that is about historic preservation, but I have one about my one and only actual encounter with a government agency developing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that happened last summer. The Snake River Alliance (SRA), Idaho’s grassroots watchdog group concerned with all things nuclear and/or related to alternative energy sources, was able to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to hold a hearing in Boise, as well as Idaho Falls, about the proposed permitting for a French company called Areva to build a uranium enrichment facility in Eastern Idaho. They want to put it out in the desert by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) (which was given that name in 2005, though it used to be the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) in 1977 and then became the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) in 1997). Anyhow, all these people got up and testified for or against granting the permit. My take was that those who were for the permit were business and civic leaders who were very concerned about the economic impact of such a huge project and what it could mean for jobs in Idaho. Those who spoke against the permit were citizens from many different walks of life, many with strong science backgrounds who gave examples of the environmental impact…impacts on the Snake River aquifer, the safety of animal and plant species in the area, the fact that there were wildfires nearby last summer and the question of the ground being seismically unstable. In the end when the report came back from the NRC this spring, (according to Liz Woodruff, the executive director of the SRA, who waded through it) they recommended granting the permit because there were NO environmental impacts that fell outside certain guidelines to be of enough concern to deny the permit. I admire anyone whose work involves dealing with government agencies. King’s book didn’t have any examples of positive outcomes and I wish he’d given some.


My thoughts about this week’s readings are not particularly clear. My initial gut reaction to each article was disbelief and disgust about the racism and the acceptance of and belief in poor scholarship. These ideas have strong followings and footholds. Swaying opinions or changing minds about them does not seem likely to occur. Thankfully, there are people who catch what is happening and call attention to it. Even then, it didn’t seem as if there were too many willing to step forward and apologize or take steps to right the wrongs. Lots of excuses. I’ve kept going back to think about words from the “They Have Blood on Their Hands” post and responses. Chauncey DeVega wrote back to someone called Thrasher agreeing about questioning how much valuable energy we expend on racists , “or should we fight our fight on different terrain?”

Last American Convert to Technology

That’s me!    I think the class/project was a really great idea on the professor’s part.  A couple of my friends wanted to watch the movie Must Love Dogs recently.  One part I find hilarious, but frightening is when the main character is making profiles for dating online and photoshops her heart out creating several different versions of herself, all of which are fake.  I knew the pirate story was a hoax anyway, because Jimmy Buffett is the Last American Pirate.

Public History Readings

Last fall when I was in Portland I went to visit the campus of my alma mater Lewis and Clark College. In the last few years a decision had been made to, in some way, recognize the participation of the slave York as a member or the Corps of Discovery. The college commissioned Alison Saar who creates public sculpture connected to African American history. Here’s a link to an interview with Ms. Saar about her work:

I also wanted to share something about an author I really enjoy, Merritt Ierley. He is a social historian. His books include:

Open House: A Guided Tour of the American Home, 1637 to the Present
Traveling the National Road: Across the Centuries of America’s First Highway

With Charity for All: Welfare and Society, Ancient Times to the Present

The Year that Tried Men’s Souls: A Journalistic Reconstruction of the World of 1776

A Place in History: A Centennial Chronicle of North Arlington, New Jersey, Birthplace of Steam Power in America

Wondrous Contrivances: Technology at the Threshold

The Comforts of Home: The American House and the Evolution of Modern Convenience

I have heard him interviewed on NPR, but I couldn’t get to an actual audio recording or even a transcript at the NPR website. What I did find was a New York Times article that quotes one of his books and it made me laugh because it was about front porches.

How I Spent My Spring Vacation…

When my boyfriend and I planned our Spring Break trip to Colorado the reasons were not about historic preservation or historic districts, but that is what we got to experience in so many ways.

First, we attended a family wedding held at The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. The hotel opened in 1909 and was built by F.O. Stanley and his wife, Flora, (Stanley Steamer automobiles) when they came to Colorado because he had tuberculosis. The hotel is a member of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, in 1977 was entered into the National Register of Historic Places and was later designated an Historic District as its own entity, not as a section of a town.

The rooms were furnished with beautiful antiques. The most visible upgrades of modern living were things like telephones, table lamps, the sprinkler system, the bathrooms and flat-screen TVs. We were “treated” all day everyday to watching and hearing many ghost tours  passing through the lobby and hallways. At night we encountered several paranormal investigators rigged out with digital voice recorders and night vision cameras…

One morning we drove up into the Rocky Mountain National Park where we saw the location of the Little Horseshoe Camp, the first CCC Camp west of the Mississippi which housed what was called the Woodpecker Army. They rode to their work sites in red sight-seeing vehicles. In Estes Park there was a small but really interesting museum about the Stanley family, the hotel and the Steamer automobiles.

Our other Colorado destination was back down the road in Boulder. We stayed at the Hotel Boulderado which also opened in 1909, has membership in the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located in Boulder’s Downtown Historic District. While my boyfriend attended a conference at the University of Colorado I got to wander around a couple of Boulder’s several Historic Districts which they started designating in 1976. According to a pamphlet I read that as early as 1980 Boulder won an award from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the urban environmental design of their pedestrian mall.

The Pearl Street pedestrian mall centers on the 1930’s Art Deco County Courthouse. In that area I noticed that all the businesses were locally owned, no chains or nationally recognized names. When I did see a Starbuck’s I realized I was in a fringe area outside of the actual Historic District. The architecture of the store fronts was not all of one era, but everything was certainly well-maintained and newer buildings were not built higher than those with historic facades. There were signs here and there with historic information, lots of benches, some sculpture, a fountain where kids could play, and a large kiosk with visitor information pamphlets.

I walked around a residential neighborhood that had some highlighted homes and churches. Again there were all different styles of architecture. The churches all appeared to have additions or extra building, many with a modern look, but blending in with the older original buildings. Many of the houses looked from the outside like single-family homes, but had 2 or more mailboxes which led me to think lots of students from the university lived in the area. One of the oldest elementary schools in Boulder was in this area. It’s still used with many additions to the back of it.

On our way out of town before heading to the airport we stopped at the Boulder Historical Museum. It’s in an old house that was originally a vacation home for a family from the East Coast. It was fun to walk through and think about some of our discussions about museums. Their display on Native Americans started with the coming of white people. They had some very hands on exhibits about mining, but sparse explanations about how some of the equipment was used. Then in the next room it was totally hands OFF where the telephone switchboard, old radio and gramophone were concerned.

One thing I really liked especially about the Downtown Historic District of Boulder was that people did seem to realize what a treasure they had. All the people I talked to in stores, restaurants and the hotel seemed incredibly proud to work in such a unique part of their town.

Preservation Reading

While reading this week’s chapters from Historic Preservation I kept thinking back to Dr. Lubamersky’s presentation to us about Sweden and her observation that the Swedish are not afraid to mix the old with the new. I love to see old buildings preserved, but…. I appreciated that on page 18 of the introduction there was a listing of several perspectives held by preservationists: “Some see their role primarily as saving old buildings, some as preserving a cultural heritage, some as fostering urban revitalization, and some as contributing to sustainability and an alternative approach to current development practice.” I would like to think that all those views are important and taken into consideration. I’d also like to believe there is an option that sometimes a building might not be not worth saving.

I had very mixed feelings about one of the Boise Architecture Project’s picks for their endangered list, the Googie style Japanese Restaurant. I remember when it was a Sambo’s. That’s right. A shortening of the name Little Black Sambo. It may be kind of like a slave cabin in its historical and cultural significance. It might be really important for Idaho to have an example of that kind of architecture. Or we could question its deteriorated state and say bye-bye. Recently, I suggested to a friend who was having trouble purging useless, old knickknacks that he should take digital photos of them and save the images, not the actual items. I might be okay with a digital photo of that restaurant in a digital archive.

Mobile Public History Project Plan


Group Members:


Angie Davis

Clete Edmunson

Ellen Matthew

Jena Herriott

Tentative Name for the Project:


The River Street Neighborhood: Changes in the Physical and Cultural Landscape 1890-1970

Learning Objectives:

 The area known today as River Street refers to the area north of the Boise River between 9th /Capitol and 15th and extends to what is now Myrtle. Between the years 1890 and 1970 the physical landscape has changed dramatically. This fact, in itself, tells a story of economic and cultural change in the City of Boise.

This project will discuss the transition of the neighborhood from its original owners, individuals including Tom and Julia Davis, whose land lies directly across Ninth/Capitol from River Street (for which Julia Davis Park is named), A.G. Miller, and John McLellan, a homesteader who established his home along the north side of the Boise River in 1863. McLellan also established the Ferry to cross the river (I believe this is where the old Ninth Street Bridge is now), and he soon began subdividing his land into the neighborhood which we now refer to as the River Street area.

By tracing these physical transitions we can trace the local cultural, economic, and political transitions as well. This project will help understand how cultural identities are constructed through the physical landscape, how the political environment influences the social structure of a city, and how a review of these relationships can expose the hierarchy of power within a growing city. It is clear that River Street became a designated living space for the working class as the railroad moved into town, leaving River Street physically separated from the city south of the tracks. This “catch-all” phrase, working-class, includes immigrants, ethnic minorities, and any other transient populations hoping to move up the social ladder.

Why was this neighborhood important then and why is its history important?

Inspiration for the Project:

 Inspiration for the project began with an interest in the River Street neighborhood and African Americans living in the community. Some members in the group were familiar with several African American oral histories and had an interest in learning more. Angie also interned at the Idaho Historic Library and transcribed oral histories. Some topics of interest include; community life, segregation, racism, economic opportunities, and push-pull factors of moving in and out of the community. Our group is also focusing on how the River Street neighborhood has changed or evolved from 1890-1970. After several discussions our group decided to expand on our topic and focus on the working class community in the River Street neighborhood, instead of only African Americans.


Similar Existing Projects:


The digital component of the project will use Omeka, which will include; photos, sound, oral history interviews, maps, information about River Street, and links to local museums. An advantage of Omeka is that it will be user friendly, accessible, and photos and sound will be high quality. A continuing activity that may also be included is the use of a walking tour of River Street with an app. The app may expand upon some free podcasts that provide audio or visual walking tours. Some websites that provide free access include:,, and These apps would be great for the project because they may include sound to inform a visitor, or display a map to direct visitors to a specific building or area. Liabilities with the use of either Omeka or an app, is that we have to learn to use the technology and how to best implement that technology with our project. An additional liability could be that the technology may be time intensive to learn, and the plan of our project may need to be modified.

Benefits of Using this Technology:


By delivering this history through a digital medium, we allow users to create their own experience, enriched through a visual, audible, and otherwise interactive platform. The Omeka platform serves this purpose, enabling a pre-packaged experience at the user’s convenience. But it also has the potential to deliver a personally engaging historical tour of a largely ignored section of Boise City. As mobile technology is becoming widely available, Omeka has made a point of utilizing this technology, and in that way we can also deliver a mobile experience as well. This first-person experience will take place as the user, who resides in the present, has the past delivered, in digital form, to their mobile device. We can enrich each of these experiences with photos, maps, and oral histories, making the journey as complete as possible.

Resources Needed to Complete the Project:

A list of 6 individuals/families we want to highlight

Research on political and economic forces causing change

Research for incidental information about neighborhood


Books about Boise

Dissertation by Pam Demo

Paper by John Bertram

Newspaper articles


Instruction about Omeka

Anticipated Challenges:

The River Street Neighborhood was a place that members of our group knew little about. We decided to do some initial information gathering to determine if we had chosen a good subject for our project. Happily, one challenge became quickly apparent when we met as a group to work on our plan. We discovered a wide range of information covering more than a century of the neighborhood’s history. We not only have to define our focus, we have to keep it and not get distracted by all the other information we would love to include. We have the challenge of keeping the project at a workable size for the time period in which we have to complete it. Our group also hopes learn and use Omeka. This technology is new to everyone in the group and we anticipate extra time needed for learning and implementing Omeka all at once. We decided we would store our initial work in Powerpoint. As with all group work, we will have to decide which parts of the project require meeting together and what we can do individually.


March 13-19- Research and collecting information

Tracking down hand scanner

March 20-26 – Narrative outline writing

March 27-April 2 (Spring Break) Start Powerpoint file

April 3-9 Work on Omeka

April 10-16 Trips to Museums, private collections, interviews

April 17-23 Compile findings and information

April 24-30 Finalize ideas

April 1-7 Edit project

Write paper



Reading Reflections

This week I opted for skimming the week’s chapters in Museum Politics. I read the parts that interested me about the history of each museum’s inception and about the exhibits. When Luke started sounding too forceful or negative I quickly jumped ahead. Last week I felt like Luke was a movie critic. He purports to love museums but certainly makes one wonder.  I realized this week I was choosing to approach Luke’s museum choices my way. I want to visit them and have my own experience and make my own decisions about what I think of them. I understand that what I get to see and experience often has a political backstory, but I can choose if that curbs my interest or not. I wonder what Luke would think if he knew that this week I only wanted to glean the entertaining parts of his writing.

In  1979 I took a course at my college in Portland taught by a Rabbi about the Holocaust. In the summer of 1983 when I visited a friend who lived in Munich we went to the Dachau concentration camp site. When I lived in New York City in the 1980s I knew a woman who was working with a group on the beginning ideas for the Museum of Jewish Heritage. I haven’t had a chance to see the Holocaust Museum in D.C. or the Museum of Tolerance, but they are of great interest to me. I am grateful for their websites and am annoyed by Luke’s description of a “theme park about genocide”

I have been to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on a few occasions. I visited with my uncle and cousin who are both biologists. I cherish my time with them seeing things through their eyes and their passion for the beauty of the desert. I visited the Mitchell Park Conservatory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where the Botanical Garden is housed in 3 geodesic domes each with a different climate. How cool for people to be able to visit a desert or the tropics in the crazy cold northern U.S.  The New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens were oases for me from the concrete of the city. The Missouri Botanical Garden sounds no less spectacular. Hurray for florapower!

Internet access to the conroversial

Even though Timothy Luke’s ideas were interesting I didn’t find him particularly easy to read. I found myself going to the computer to look up more information and get images of what he was discussing in his writing. I found the catalog for “The West as America” and the websites for the Autry Museum, the Heard Museum, the Fred Harvey Company, and the Pima Air and Space Museum. I also looked through other articles about the Enola Gay exhibit controversy. Even though I couldn’t go to a museum and see the actual paintings in the exhibit “The West as America”, the internet allowed me to still see these paintings grouped together and the texts that accompanied the exhibit 20 years later. I love to go to museums, but if controversy is going to hinder my ability to view something there are ways around that now with digital technology. I even use the internet to look at non-controversial exhibits in places I wouldn’t be able to go. Anymore, I don’t think people are dependent on museums and what they contain is actually more accessible to more people.

When I lived in New York City I was able to go and see the Robert Maplethorpe photos that were so controversial. Now all one has to do is enter his name on Google and voila! The photos appear.

By coincidence this morning I was finishing reading David Sedaris’ book When You are Engulfed in Flames. He describes when he and his partner are in Japan and they visit the Hiroshima Memorial Museum. “Just when you’d think that it couldn’t get any sadder, you’d come upon another display case, one in particular with a tag reading, ‘Nails and skin left by a twelve-year-old boy.’ This boy, we learned, was burned in the blast, and subsequently grew so thirsty that he tried to drink the pus from his infected fingers. He died, and his mother kept his nails and the surrounding skin to show to her husband, who’d gone off to work that day the bomb was dropped but never came home.” I started thinking about how the Japanese or tourists to Japan could go and see this side of “event” that was not acceptable to some in the “Crossroads” exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum. Then I stopped and went again to Google and found the website and virtual museum.

I don’t doubt that debates will continue to go on about what is politically correct for the public to view in museums, but if attempts at censoring continue there will be much more involved than just cancelling an exhibit.