Is this the real life?

The readings for this week has really stopped and made me think.  Though I view myself as my parents viewed themselves as “New Dealers”, I found that I was more middle of the road than I thought that I was.  I agree with Corey that I am grateful for my Second Amendment rights.  Teachers though do not need to be armed.  Most schools have SRO’s or School Resource Officers, that do carry a loaded weapon into a public school.  They are there to handle those kind of situations.  I really do not  agree with Mr. Barton.  If a armed teacher was at Sandy Hook, it could have made the situation that much worse, if the perpetrator knew that there was a teacher carrying a weapon.  With my military training, I had months of weapons classes and training.  I took no particular pleasure carrying a loaded M-16 on my back for 18 months.  Barton’s articles to me were very cringe worthy and wonder what his Version of America would really look like.

I have a good question about Mr. Conservative Teacher?  He seems to be posting like Caunchy De Vega, with a pseudo-name?  Is he afraid that he might lose his job if the Lefties find out his real name?  Oh Heaven Forbid!  Okay, now class, I did some student teaching in a public High School.  When I team taught the 50’s about McCarthyism,  we taught the blacklist.  But it was with a neutral slant.  Please watch YouTube as we all have, when he is stating that there are spies everywhere in the Army, and the Mr. Welch finally called him for what he was.  (  So there Mr. Conservative Teacher, on live television.  If you want a Conservative Education then go to BYU, Oral Roberts University or Liberty University.  All right enough soapbox.

Jack Hitt’s article really showed my how the other 53 percent really think.  To me this showed just how really uneducated politicians are, (and I am sure there is an article about what the liberal politicians have said).  I followed what was said during the Presidential Primaries, and Mr. Hitt brought them all out.  It is really hard being Blue in a Red state, but I try to deal with it as best as I can and yes, Michelle Bachmann loves New Hampshire.


Ethics Part II

             Having worked for the United States Government in one capacity or another, I can truly feel the pain and suffering that Thomas F. King went through in dealing with the different government agencies in his work.  In this week’s reading, the only thing I felt was pure frustration on his part in dealing with the government as a whole. All types of government, local, state and federal seem to work on the attitude of doing as little work possible, in as little time as possible (or some cases as much time as possible), to be able to make the most off the contract or kickbacks from entity doing the real job. 

            King made it very clear that no one entity with in the government structure either wanted to work together or wanted what was best for either the tribe, ranchers or people about what was sacred or their way of life.  It will always be those with the most money wins.  SHPO’s are too understaffed to deal with all the financial, environmental and religious entities within a proposal to adequately see that all sides of the proposal are taken into account. 

            King’s argument seems to be that Section 106 of the National Historical Preservation Act either needs to be revised or completely done away with.  Section 106 should be amended to the point where agencies that are brought into what preservation project need to be able to communicate and work together.  We all know that this is why there was the creation of the Homeland Security arm of the government.  A change within the certain government sectors takes very much patience and time.  As King stated changes can happen by something as simple as going and voting. 


Ethical Dilemmas, Part I

As I get older, it seems that the ethical dilemmas in life become more confusing and seem to border on the absurd.   The issues that have to deal with presenting history correctly and accurately have gone the way that the Dodo has gone.  It can in part be blamed on the internet and all the pseudo histories and conspiracy theories that are being touted of.     The other part is our own ineptness of trying to keep historical places, institutions and events in their proper place and with historical accuracy.   The need to keep things accurate has to be preserved.  We, as future public historians can’t afford to be labeled as liars. The facts have to be presented in the best historical context given, and all politics should be moved to the wayside.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans need to really get their facts straight and say that the information that they have presented in no ways reflects that slaves actually fought for the South.  Unless it is a political institution, politics should never be insinuated and the institution should try to be as politically neutral as possible.

The thing that raised my ire the most was the article about the man presenting how the framers of the Constitution were, the types of men that this man thought they were and how religiously motivated they were.   It is truly amazing how the facts can be skewed in the name of religion.  One name that was not mentioned was that this guy was a member of the John Birch Society.  They are one of the main groups trying to give education about the Constitution, but it is their skewed version.   It is truly amazing how, older, male white men, in their 60’s, who probably never were in the Military or fought in Vietnam can try and educate our youth on how the Constitution works.  Enough soapbox, but it is very galling to say the least.

These articles did open my eyes to how narrow some peoples take on historical events and places happened.  I am so glad the blinders have fallen and that the truth can be shown on real names and events.  I am glad the writer of the letter called out the false inaccuracies in the “Munchhausen House”.  It was very appropriate to name this house after the man who was the biggest liar in the world.   That article made me look at even when people are given the facts, they will still tell their version of a skewed truth.

Careers in Public History

As I looked at this week’s menu for the readings, it seemed that this was indeed light, but in looking at the opportunities for jobs, the outlook looks grim and bleak.  As with any job it seems that knowledge and that term, “experience” is the one thing that is needed before you should even put in a resume to a prospective employer.

The Bureau of Labor Statics was quite surprising in that an Archivist makes more than a Curator.  I would think that a person in management would more than a “grunt” doing the manual labor of finding and archiving materials for institutions.  I clicked along the top tabs and looked at the various jobs and it listed what would be the top paying jobs and I was surprised that the political scientist would be paid the most.  I wonder if it is as a lobbyist that the profession of lobbying legislatures that would pay the most salary if you represented an institution that needed federal funding.  The one occupation that I was surprised at was that of the post-secondary History teacher.  Teachers beginning salaries are not that much starting out, and I am really surprised that the BLS would publish this.

The one thing that I do agree with my fellow students is that doing an internship or working already in the field will open the doors for full time employment.  It is usually word of mouth on how most jobs are advertised and I am certain that this is the same pattern in the public history arena.  I know that internships always look good on a resume.  I am always asked what I plan to do after I graduate.  Being retired, I still have many options open and want to fill my time wisely, and I feel that one is never too old to fulfill a second career.  The future is just as bright for me as it is for younger students, so I don’t want to let anything hold me back.


Historic Preservation, Part II

When walking downtown wondering where the older buildings have gone, like Fosters Warehouse Furniture, the older restaurants and shops, it seems that Boise has suffered from what other cities have suffered from.  It seems that either these buildings were not good enough to keep and needed to be torn down because of this new, invigorating term called progress. BODO (Boise Downtown) is the area where these older buildings were and is trying for the upscale, chic look that other cities have and that Boise is trying to emulate.

I look at the examples in the book, like Pikes Place and Pioneer Square in Seattle, Lower Downtown (Lodo) in Denver, and the renovation of St. Louis Union Square Station and Pittsburgh’s Station Square are excellent examples of cities looking at existing structures and using the character and flavor to renovate and attempt to preserve these prestigious buildings and their place in history.  Boise has tried to make what seems a token gesture at restoration and preservation, but our fair city seems to be getting better at attempting to work at doing better in preserving its past.  Boise has its own historical street program like the one mentioned in Chapter 11, on Pg. 324.  On Grove Street there is a narrative on the early buildings and how it related to businesses that were originally downtown that were run by Chinese immigrants.  This historic street exhibit is essential in telling the story of the everyday life that occurred in the early history of Boise.

Examples of what preservation and restoration in Boise can be seen with what was done with the Egyptian Theater. The theater was saved in the 70’s and has been renovated many times.  It is an example a building that is registered in the Historic American Building Survey or HABS and is known in the survey as the Ada Theater.  The Fort Boise Administration Building is also registered in HABS, so there are many buildings that are in the Survey in Boise.

Seeing that from this week’s readings implies that  preservation does indeed matter and that local governments care as much for preserving certain buildings and landmarks as much as the federal government does.  Concerned citizens are the ones that raise their voices in preserving and using technology as a way to seek to renew and make these older gems of the past sparkle as when they were first built.

Wiki’s…Never Give Up, Never Surrender

This assignment was a great undertaking for this old, not so technical kind of person.  I can maneuver around the internet with the best of people, but trying to create these wiki articles was indeed a frustrating challenge to say the least.  My previous experience in writing a Wiki article came in my Introduction to Public History class that was taught at the time by Dr. Madsen-Brooks.  We had to write and develop five articles for the up and coming Boise Wiki.  I thought that this was a challenge to come up with five new things that have not been written about for the city of Boise.  I had forgotten how these taxed my mind and tried to overcome my anxiety of posting to the Boise Wiki, and then try to make this work on Wikipedia itself, when I looked at it, it truly boggled my mind.  But as one to never quit, or surrender, I went once again into the fray to try and post articles to the Boise Wiki and Wikipedia itself.

When I started this adventure, I was first going to do it on the first woman that was executed in the state of Idaho.  The internet interceded and looking at the Idaho Statesman website and it got me thinking that since this is the 150th anniversary of the forming of the territory of Idaho.  Then with the Statesman naming 150 people and events that have happened in Boise, the thought occurred to me, why not do it on infamous people.  This is when the idea to write on Robin Row hit me.  She is the only woman that is officially on Idaho’s death row, so why not look to both wiki’s and see if anything had been written on her, and there had not.   There has not much been written on her since she was incarcerated into the Idaho prison system.  Then I searched Google and other search engines and there was not an article specific to Robin Row.  So this made it the next step to write a short 300 word article and then try to get it published on the Boise Wiki and Wikipedia.  This is where it became difficult.  Being old, and with little knowlege about either, it was sink or swim.  Dog paddling in these waters helped me to survive.

I had tried to use my previous account from the Boise Wiki to log in and create the article.  After several attempts to reset the password, I just went ahead and created a new account.  This seemed to be the logical things to do and it worked.  Then I proceeded to create a new page called “Infamous People”. ( ) Once the page was created, it was very easy to add the article and then publish it.  Editing the Boise Wiki is extremely easy to do.  The page is there and hopefully if more people want to add it about the Infamous People that have been in Boise, then it is there.

The Wikipedia page was a whole different story in its creation.  I had created the account and did the “sandbox” entry to try and see if could take it from the article itself from creation to publication.  What was so frustrating was that I was stuck in the “sandbox”.  I realize that it was my “sandbox” to play in, but getting out was the difficult part.  This portion was extremely hard to deal with until the thought hit me, just go to YouTube, and see if there is a simpler way to try and get the article out of the “sandbox”.  There was a video and I was able free myself and get the article, hopefully published.  There was a blurb saying that the editors were weeks behind in editing and that it will take time for them to get to it.  I looked to see if there was anything in my “talk” area, and there was not.  I was able to print out what was there and I feel I have made my contribution to Wikipedia. (

As for writing such a small article for Wikipedia, I feel that I am now part of the world of global information.  In seeing the lengthy articles that are there, I feel like the guppy in with the sharks.  I will have to wait and see what the fate of the article is.

About the liabilities and advantages of writing wiki articles is that they are always subject to ones interpretation of how the original author wants the information to be portrayed.  Since Wikipedia only deals with secondary sources, then the reader is wondering if the article is credible, or just skewed to the way the author wants to present his information.  The smaller, local wiki would have to be edited constantly so that false or defamatory information is not posted.  The Boise Wiki is a great opportunity for regular people and also for public historians to post information that is valuable and meaningful.

Public historians can use Wiki’s to best of their abilities if they use their imaginations and can create a wiki for the museum or exhibit that they are personally working on.  Smart phones and tablets can be directed to the wiki site where the historian has placed their information and it could be used as a guide for say students could look at this prior to seeing the exhibit.

Wiki’s can be an important tool if they are used in the way they are supposed to be used.  In doing this assignment, I think that most of us will learn that going through the mechanics of getting a wiki published is only half the battle.  It’s following the guidelines and rules so that if one is passionate about what they feel is important, then a wiki can be the place to show that passion.

Historic Preservation

In reading Historic Preservation, when Tyler stated that the year 1976 was pivotal in the arena of historic preservation, it hit me that these words were so true.  It was the year of the bi-centennial, and I was 18 years old at the time.  It was a period that as a nation, we could stand proud of the accomplishment that we had survived for two hundred years, through wars, pestilence, droughts, depression, disease and poverty, the United States had help up well as a whole. Historical buildings and monuments had taken on a new focus and that they had historical significance and had come into their own as important spaces and places in the United States.  Independence Hall and the Old North Church took on a greater meaning for the typical American at the time.  Historic buildings took on a renewed feeling that the buildings themselves were hallowed ground and were sacred.  It was thought that due to this event historical buildings and places were preserved.  But, as we read, Tyler points out that the pivotal year for historic preservation was ten years earlier, in 1966. Urban renewal was in the forefront of Lyndon Johnson’s new policies of the “Great Society”, so the creation of National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 is a milestone that partners federal, state, and communities to preserve our rich historic past.  Looking back at how negative the Government’s role was seen in our society during the mid-20th Century, positive laws were enacted to preserve cultural places for future generations to enjoy.  The realization that older buildings, monuments and sites need to be preserved today is still very important for future generations to appreciate.

Looking at the information of the Idaho State Historical Preservation Office website (, it seems to be short, sweet and concise.  When speaking of Section 106, it is very down to the point in its language as to why it was created.  The part where it says, “Communities were witnessing the loss of their historic downtowns and neighborhoods…” one wonders of the tearing down of the older buildings in Boise, during the 1970’s should have been protected, or did the city and state completely ignore this section of NHPA.

It is sad that we do not look to the past as a way to preserve the future.  Most of the buildings described in the blog about teaching preservation ion Boise, gives us as citizens of our fair city, that doom and gloom is indeed prevalent.  The blog is over three years old, and it is nice to see that these buildings and areas met the criteria for meeting the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  These buildings are a testament how Idaho has grown and is now part of the 21st century.  The areas and buildings are important to the past and integral to the 150th anniversary of Idaho and of Boise itself.  With the conservatism that this state has, how progressive would the city and the state be in trying to preserve these areas and buildings?




Reenactors and Wiki’s

After reading the articles on reenactors and wiki’s, one question kept hanging in the back of my head saying, “do both the reenactors and wiki’s try to present a fraction of truth about how history is shown and defined and are they important?”  The possibility of this question can possibly be laid out by looking at how the articles present themselves.

Reenactors can be compared the cos-players (costume players) of today that a person can see at a sci-fi or comic book convention.    Both the reenactor and the cos-player take into account that paying attention to detail is paramount in either the event that they reenacting or the character that the cos-player is portraying.  You have to have a great deal of dedication to be a reenactor.  Trying to make everything ship shape and Bristol fashion always comes with a cost, but types of cloth can be exchanged, such as cotton for wool.  Polyester can be used for the breeches of old, unless you are the “hardcore” enthusiast.  Dedication is the creed for a person who is a reenactor.  They represent history as it was, even though some variances are given, such as water bottles, MRE’s and other possible luxuries.

Kowalczyk’s article implies that the reenactor is just play acting or how the mother saw the events as “men as conquerors”.   It is not playing and it is a great way for men and women to show how people in America’s past lived and worked and fought.

Ann Little in her blog clearly does not like reenactors or reenacting of historical events that were violent.  One has to wonder if she has ever been to the reenactment of a non-violent historic event.  There are many, and yes there is the excitement of being a reenactor, but events like the crossing of the Snake River in Glens Ferry comes to mind.   I feel that she was right in saying that reenactment of certain things like the woman saying that she wished she had lived during the time of Gone with the Wind, was very profound.  Yes, she might think it would be fun as a privileged, white plantation owner, but her African American friend pointed out the blunt truth that she would have been her slave.

Timothy Messer-Kruse showed in his article on how he tried to fight the good fight and lost.  As a published author on the Chicago Haymarket riots, it seems totally absurd that the editors of Wikipedia would not acknowledge his works and belittled him in the process of editing the Wiki on this subject.    As an expert, did he over step his bounds in trying to edit the article to present the information as accurate?  I do not think he did and with two books being published on the matter the editors should think so too.  Someone had a title (editor), and used that title as a use of power to show the expert that he could not make the change unless “he” (editor) said so.

Wiki’s and reenators do portray history as truthfully as possible and with good intent.  Accuracy is vital and the importance for both is essential.  Historians base their work on primary sources, not secondary ones.


Interview with film historian and lecturer, David J. Skal

The person that I was privileged to interview was David J. Skal.  He is an esteemed lecturer, archivist, film historian and documentary maker.  He did commentaries/documentaries for the release of the Universal Monsters series, (i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.) on DVD and on the new series of Blue Ray disks that were released last year.  He is very active in writing about how the monster movies were made in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  He was very gracious to do this interview for the class.

• What path did you take to get to your current position?

I came to my present career after 20 years employment in the non-profit performing arts world (theatre, dance, and music) where I specialized in public relations, fund-raising and marketing. I began writing books and documentary scripts in the 1990s, when there was a major recession that made it impossible to work in the nonprofit sector any longer

• What kinds of projects do you work on?

I write books, essays and articles, occasionally produce, write and direct video documentaries, and guest-lecture at colleges, universities, and cultural organizations.

• With what kind of people (demographics, occupations, etc.) do you typically work?

Mr. Skal did not address this question.

• Do you have autonomy to pick your own projects, or are projects generally assigned to you by others in your organization or elsewhere?

I work by myself and choose/propose my own projects (which, of course, are approved and contracted by my publishers. Occasionally a publisher will approach me on a work-for-hire basis for a project it has developed in-house.

• What are the current issues in your field?

Current issues in my field are dominated by the massive consolidation of publishers and the proliferation of e-books, which has had a negative effect on the earnings of many freelancers like myself.

• What skills are expected of applicants for an entry-level position?

The only entry-level requirement for a freelance writer is to produce a manuscript a publisher deems publishable.

• What is the current starting salary for entry-level positions in your field?

I’m not a salaried employee, and there is no guaranteed minimum compensation outside the advance offered by each publishing contract. Lecture fees are also widely variable.

• How is your position funded? Is this typical for positions in your field or organization?

Publishers offer advances based on their own calculation of potential sales and this can vary widely from project to project. Lecture fees are usually paid from an educational institution’s special fund for this type of activity.

• What level of education is necessary for advancement to the different levels of this profession (e.g. entry-level, mid-level, and senior positions)? Are there specific degrees that are favored, and if so, what are they?

There are no educational requirements for my type of work, only the ability to produce work by which a publisher can make a profit. I have a bachelor’s degree with a split concentration in English, theatre, and journalism.

• What advice do you have for people interested in entering this field?

My advice to people seeking a similar career is to always have a back-up source of income. In other words: never quit your day job until you are very well-established professionally.

Again, I would like to thank Mr. Skal for taking the time to answer these questions.


The Business and Future of Museums

The terms “not for profit” and   “non-profit” always bring to mind one thing is that business entities such as these need to be able to sustain themselves financially.  They need to ensure that future funds can always come from numerous sources to be a vital part of the community.   Institutions (i.e. museums) need to have capital flow that is always coming in to take care of necessary expenses.  Capital has to be generated or gathered from outside sources so that salaries can be paid to those working at the institution.  Costs have to be evaluated from these funds so that the care of the physical structure of the institution can be taken care of.  Considerations have to be made to ensure that there is sufficient monies are in place to preserve and care for the materials that are kept in the institution.  Care and good business sense has to be used so that the themes of the institution are preserved as best as can be done with the funds that are given from the sources to run and maintain the institution.

I am in total agreement with the article that a business model is necessary and is in place so  when any question are asked about how the institution is ran, the person in charge can always refer to the business model that is in place.  Business models always follow the goal setting principle which is: plan, organize, and supervise and follow-up.  One must be able to stick to the business plan, yet be flexible to change the plan when the economy takes an upturn or a down turn.  Flexibility is the key to success here.

In the article, Museums and Libraries in the 21st Century, the themes seem to be taken directly from a university education class for students entering the teaching profession.  Literacy and accountability are the focal points of the article.  This makes sense because literacy and good leadership skills work well with each other so that the end goal can be attained.  Basic literacy skills are needed for those seeing the exhibits and good leadership in procuring and maintaining interesting exhibits will work best for the community’s social wellbeing.

Dan Spock anchored his blog post on the feeling of nostalgia.  His feeling for nostalgia seems to be the reason that museums exist.  So if the adage is true that we seek the past to unlock our future, then museums have an important place in our world to show the past and how it is relevant in our world today.

In the Futures of Museums blog, this blog has various writers show the futures of the museum system.  Some articles detail a bleak future like the movie, Blade Runner.  But the other articles seem to be more optimistic of a future like the one depicted in Star Trek.  I, for one, hope it is the latter.