Dark Tourism

I go to places of death on different occasions due to the fact that I am a military historian but did not realize that this kind of tourism had a name. Dark tourism seems to be a major part of history tours in general from battlefields, prisons, prisoner of war camps, and even sanitariums. The celebration of death is also used in religious and public domains to make money as well as remember heritage. The day of the dead in Mexico is one such event others include frozen dead guy days in Nederland Colorado where the community comes together to raise funds to keep a frozen Norwegian guy frozen each year around March per his wishes. Each major place or event surrounding dark tourism is linked with media. Documentaries or TV specials give insight into these dark places by passing on the story or tragedy of the event or place to the wider public. “There is a close link between the media and dark tourism. I can visit Auschwitz, or I can watch a documentary about it on TV. I can visit First World War battlefields, or I can read a novel about their pity and their pain. I can visit the site of the battle of Culloden, or watch a re-enactment of it in a TV docu-drama.”[1] The dead have a huge impact on our society because much can be learned geologically and archeologically by the remains. Disease or malnourishment can be concluded through testing of remains and historical sites to give the public a glimpse of what life might be like back in those days.

The problem with some of dark tourism is that it can take away from the site due to its draw of being haunted. Haunted tours are big business in the Southern United States in most historical cities such as Savanah, Georgia, St. Augustine, Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina. I have been on some of these ghost tours and they give good history mixed with ghost tails. The problem is I am normally more focused on the history and could care less about the ghost parts. I am different when it comes to the majority of people who go on these tours because they are more interested in the ghosts. My question is does the ghost tours make the historical place of death easier for the general public to swallow then just saying it was place of immense death? If treating a prison or pow camp like a Halloween haunted warehouse make the public more accepting of the deaths that occurred there? When I went to Andersonville civil war prison camp that place made emotionally sad and somber. I feel that how it should be going to place like that, I would feel the same way when I go to Auschwitz Birkenau. Dark tourism can be a useful tool to pass on dark horrific history of large amounts of deaths so that the general public can better digest it. I feel some places that is not acceptable and should be uncomfortable and treated more like shrines and cemeteries. They should be respected and should make the public have a sad emotional response. The Holocaust museum is a prime example of this, you should feel sad and even horrified by the actions of peoples and countries exterminating large population of people.


[1]R. Sharpley & P. Stone, eds The Darker Side of Travel: the theory and practice of dark tourism, Bristol: Channel View Publications, 2009.


Our unprotected heritage

Our Unprotected Heritage book argues the point that the government in the public view acts that it is protecting our heritage and lands from being destroyed by industry. Thomas King is trying to wake Americans up to the fact that money is what makes the world go around. If the government needs to run pipelines or railways through a cultural or heritage site in the United States the government would allow it. If it will allow for the government to get more money than areas that are protected can be used if needed. Since this book was written during the administration of George W. Bush when they were talking about drilling in Alaska in the reserve for oil instead of relying on OPEC. Thomas King shows how the American people think that these National Parks and heritage places are protected by laws but that we don’t necessary read the whole law with its different stipulations on how or when the government can use the land if needed. “The failure of the heritage laws has several aspects, several parts, that interact with and reinforce one another. These are: The analyst as proponent: The people analyzing a project’s impact on the natural and cultural environment act as agents for the project’s sponsors. Agencies and project planners are disinclined ever to rethink their plans in response to public objections, and are inclined, as a result, to find ways to reject and bury such concerns, even if it requires twisting or ignoring facts.”[1] I tend to think that Thomas King is correct in one sense that the government is not protecting out national parks or heritage sites, but on the other hand feel that people will not allow the government to destroy or take away our most prized heritage places. I don’t think people are as naïve as this author thinks. I have worked for the government and yes, they put loop holes to help themselves out later in case they need to put something on the land.  On the other hand, people elect these people into office and people can get them to change their views hence why we have lobbyists. This book had some interesting viewpoints but they were few and far between making it tedious to read.

[1] Thomas F King. Our unprotected heritage: Whitewashing the destruction of our cultural and natural environment. Left Coast Press, 2012. Pg. 27.



It seems to me that writing grants is similar to writing a proposal for a job the criteria is very similar. There are obvious differences but if you’re going to try and start anything in a job this is what is needed to get financing. The different professionals I have talked to in the field of history, archives, or museums it is best to go big expecting you’re going to get less than what you ask for. The part I did not think about, until the writing is that there is an inter-disciplinary group I have to account for. Then I contemplated how am I going to make my proposal sound worth wild for other groups? How am I supposed to know the “jargon” of the other people and groups involved in making my proposal successful? According to the article I should avoid such “jargon,” which makes sense because if I can’t communicate it to anybody then it would fail inside a museum. I must make the proposal user friendly to the group I am presenting it to as well as to a regular person. The proposal is different than the NEH grant due to the fact that the proposal has to be presented in front of a peer reviewed board instead of a competition.  The fact that the panel who you present to, is multidisciplinary helps. I feel that in order to properly push forward with any proposal it should be as user friendly as possible. It seems that after reading this particular article a historian should use clarity and make the proposal as if he or she is trying to sell a particular item to the general public. The easier it is for John Q public to understand the better the sell on the proposal.

NEH grant makes sense that you should have some humanities represented because this is what the public can relate with the most. The difference I see from the proposal to the NEH grant is that the NEH grant is a competition amongst multidiscipline groups with the winners getting the grants. The public wants to know how does this scenario or piece of history relates to their lives. If you can’t grab that with the public more often it seems you lose interest. If you can inspire people to get involved or relate to what you are presenting, obviously, you’re going to get more money. The problem is you’re going to have to give up some integrity it seems to make it more appealing to the regular public, which most historians do not want to give up. The narrative you give in support of your grant will help in getting financial support but you must follow the guidelines to get it. This is helpful in the historical field because this is when you can explain your idea and history to the general public where thought on a particular history can be changed.

I like the idea of proposals because it forces historians to make history more tangible to the general public. The proposal forces historians to look at it as regular person, unaware of this particular event in history. The historians have to make it, not only tangible for the grant proposal board, but the people it is focused on in order to share this particular historical information.

Consulting and Contracting History

I like the fact that these articles give a historian a better idea of what to look forward to after education. The fact that you can do consulting work in a field that you are looking at getting a job in is a good alternative that I never initially thought about prior to the readings. It seems that when searching for jobs on USAA.jobs website that Park Ranger or interpreter comes up frequently, which I knew it would, I have two friends I know who went that route do to military retirement and veterans preference. They love their job for the National Park Service. These articles also left me thinking what career or position I want after school? I thought Archival work or eve Park Ranger but know I don’t really know? I am happy I have more options then I initially thought.

I think that Historians can gain a lot of experience by doing consulting and contracting work. The experience gained can help a historian’s CV and get them more of a network to where when the time comes to apply for a job they have lots of letters of recommendation to help get that job. All the history that is in the South getting a consulting job, whether long term or short term, is very doable from what I saw in Charleston during their major festival times. “Each client brings new questions and opportunities to explore different subjects and resources. While some assignments may be short term, such as preparing a short history for an organization’s or town’s centennial celebration, others may involve extensive research and travel, and perhaps even testifying as an expert witness.”[1]  This would open numerous doors in the History career field and get their feet wet in something they wanted to do as permeant work.

The “Crafting the New Historian” article showed that you can somehow find a different route into the history field then you initially thought while in school. I thought that there were only certain jobs in History and you had to certain things in education and internships just to get them. This article showed alternative ways to get involved and network in the field by using skills not normally attributed to the study of history. “But when my temporary Archeological position ended and no permeant work materialized in the cultural heritage field, I fell back on what I knew. I had taught myself to sew historical costumes as a hobby over the past decade, and soon I was taking orders for clothing from museums, historical interpreters, and living historians (re-enactors).”[2] This ended up helping the author to pursue their doctorate and still do the costume business as well.

The USAA Jobs website was helpful in that they have changed it since I last looked at it for the better. For a disabled vet with a 30% or higher disability rating it helps me fill out the paperwork for veteran’s preference job that they did not have on it before. This helps because I get a higher payed position with less a hassle in less time on the job.  The site is also easier to navigate finding an archival and historian positons was way easier than a couple of years ago, for a person who is willing to relocate there are quite a bit of options out there for both fields.


[1] Phillip I. Cantelon, and Christopher S. Clark. “Historians as Consultants and Contractors.” American Historical Association.

[2] Tyler Rudd Putnam. “Crafting a New Historian.” The Chronical of Higher Education.

Re-enactment and Wikipedia

I think historical re-enactment serves a purpose to attract crowds to historical places to put them, if only for a few moments, into the era they are learning and exploring. I remember watching a civil war union soldier demonstrate the different positions and instructions in rank and file movements at Fort Pulaski and other civil war forts around the south. Castile de San Marcos did a Spanish canon firing demonstration at the Castile every hour all in Spanish. These presentations were done by Park Service Interpretive Rangers, which had knowledge and history of the areas. Do I think that regular people who decide to do re-enactments are not qualified to do them? No. I think some of them really believe that it gives them a purpose in life and they take it to the next level by actually living the life style as authentically as possible. Re-enactment to me is no different than people who go to comic con dressing up to be their favorite super hero. I do think there is some differences in dressing up and re-enacting a historical event over a dressing up and being a super hero. But in the end, you are dressing up and pretending to be something you’re not, which allows people to escape their boring day jobs and do something they feel passionate about. Nick Kowalczyk article about being embedded with re-enactors says it best: “Like drag shows, re-enactments hinge on sartorial panache. If a man’s otherwise period-correct outfit includes modern-day buttons or eyeglasses, it might as well have come from K-mart.”[1] I feel that re-enactment is a worthy sub culture that does serve a purpose in some regards as long as it is historically correct.

The Historiann article did bring up good points on Nick’s article in regards to if as a United States citizen, you want to get the full idea of battle and war why not join in the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan? This article also brings a good point on race that white people seem to want to relive the past more than other races. “Perhaps this is what makes me uncomfortable about reenactors—their interest in reenacting violent events (warfare, principally) which from the first Anglo-Indian wars of the seventeenth century through our modern wars, were either explicitly racialized wars (most Anglo-Indian wars, he Mexican War, and the wars waged by the Frontier Army against Native Americans) or wars that mobilized ethnic difference and white racism in the war effort (as in World War II and the war with Japan, the Vietnam War, and Iraq and Afghanistan).” [2] I have never thought about this perspective before but it does make sense when it comes to reenactments that it is mostly a white thing.

The Wikipedia articles made me think and ponder why women would be more hesitant to contribute to an online forum their opinions? I know and have been influenced, even had my views changed, by many talented and intelligent women in my life. Then I thought back to the conversations we all have had in this class and things I have read and heard on National Public Radio (NPR). Women get harassed online and in society by men who for reason or another can’t allow women to share their opinions and knowledge through different online resources. To see first-hand how women are treated in other countries I have been to, then to come home and see that through the internet and social media this is happening in the United States angers me.

[1] Kowalczyk, Nick. “Embedded with the reenactors.” Salon. Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012.

[2] “The Limited (and queer?) vision of American historical reenacting.” Historiann. January 9, 2012.

Preservation 2

The chapter on legal basis for preservation made me frustrated, but not surprised, on the amount of red tape and legal precedence the government uses to allow or thwart owners’ rights to preserving historical buildings. The political and legal fighting between parties on historical significance is no different than when they argue laws or legislation. It should be called negotiations instead of litigations. Imminent Domain has been used, not just in cases of historic preservation, but also when it comes to expanding any kind of cities public works, like roads, landfills, and interstates. One thing is for certain the government will always change their minds and make it extremely difficult for an owner of a historic property to maintain it, make changes, or demolish it.

I thoroughly enjoyed chapter seven because this is what interests me about the preservation process. I see the issues with preservation and technology because with so many involved this could slow a process down. I liked how the chapter broke down the definitions of each term and idea one by one to explain it. The amount of different expertise needed to do each particular job is amazing. With the increase in older buildings being preserved I wonder if it would be easier for teams to be designated in areas with large historic districts, specifically in the east coast, where large areas can be designated to specific teams for preservations. The teams would have specific individuals with knowledge of the architecture to lead breaking the teams down by skill levels to maintain multiple structures. Similar to how the military combines multiple specialties or jobs skills to nation build or provide security I think the same idea could apply to preservation in large areas. Obviously, the major problem with this is going to be money and convincing the government to spend it. The idea seems sound and would allow for on the job training with apprentices and students.

The sustainability of the historic sites seems possible depending on the community’s involvement. Getting people to volunteer is easy, in my experience, because most people will want to in the beginning. The problem is not overworking the people and getting others to volunteer. Problems arise when trying to train and sustain the relationships with the government and communities on how to sustain historic projects for the future. Working around schedules and getting a life cycle schedule passed to maintain and sustain the historic building can be an ominous task if multiple agencies are involved and laws keep changing.


Americans had and still have a hard time to keeping historic houses due to urban renewal. “The Housing Act of 1949 and Urban Renewal Act of 1954 were meant to provide such a stimulus by making available federal funds to purchase and clear deteriorated urban neighborhoods.”[1] The federal government at this time felt that the first step to updating a dilapidated area was to tear it down. The government did not realize the historical significance of the buildings. The state and federal government felt that in order to improve an area they had to demolish dilapidated areas. The federal government called these places “blighted” areas. Old was not good therefor needed to be demolished. “The goal of urban renewal funding was to encourage investors to purchase the cleared sites at low cost and launch redevelopment projects.”[2] Destroying history of a certain area takes away from the overall embodiment of the community. The historical value and history of the community and how it developed is eliminated.

Historic preservation allows for the future of a community to understand how their town and city formed from diversity and immigrants. It is an actualization of the American dream being shown through community and historical involvement. “The National Trust, inspired by its English namesake, was created with the purpose of linking preservation efforts of the NPS and the federal government with activities of the private sector.”[3]  It does not matter whether it is post-modern or colonialism type houses or property they need to be protected. The communities should see this as a high priority. The only obstacles I see in preservation of historic places and areas is federal funding. The other issue is whether the community finds it worth saving and historically significant. So many groups and federal regulations to work through also causes issues on whether a site become historic or not. The Federal government does not live in the areas or know the historical significances of places in small or medium sized towns. So, judgement made could be against the saving of historical local sites due to minor populations. Ghost towns, mining towns, and other minor places seem insignificant, but could be a major point of pride and significance to local communities.

[1] Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler. Historic preservation: An introduction to its history, principles, and practice. WW Norton & Company, 2009. Pg. 44.


[2] Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler. Historic preservation: An introduction to its history, principles, and practice. WW Norton & Company, 2009. Pg. 44.


[3] Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler. Historic preservation: An introduction to its history, principles, and practice. WW Norton & Company, 2009. Pg. 42.


Who decided what should be included or not included in museums

The idea that museums actually have to post notices or public announcements to the general public about inclusiveness is disturbing to me. To me the museum is one of the last bastions of inclusiveness even if it is in a minor way. Everybody that considers themselves United States citizens family came to this country as an immigrant or a slave. Museums should be the embodiment of that fact and reality.  Zach Aarons article where he says “To those who visit our museum spoiling for a fight, or who pass it over anticipating a political message, I invite you to consider our values.”[1] Values that everybody has a history of a relative becoming an immigrant to this country and should respect their mission of equality for all people who were and are.

Germany’s program with refugees giving tours to other refuges is a perfect answer to the problem brought up in my initial paragraph. Educate and celebrate heritage, but also understand the different viewpoints and feels that will be invoked when people see the exhibits. Museums are supposed to be the institutions that can bridge this gap by allowing for educated open conversation and helping people cope with the array of feelings they have on the subject related to the artifacts. Topics Museums choose to show is for that reason to help a society cope with a great or bad experience so, we as a unified people, will never forget or be forgotten. “The American Alliance of Museums respects, values, and celebrates the unique attributes, characteristics and perspectives that make each person who they are. We believe that our strength lies in our diversity among the broad range if people and museums we represent. We consider diversity and inclusion a driver of institutional excellence and seek out diversity of participation, thought and action. It is out aim, therefore, that out members, partners, key stakeholders reflect and embrace these core values.”[2] American Alliance of Museums diversity policy explains this very well.

The Black Lives Matter movement should also be given the same treatment as every other topic is given when added to history and explained in museum exhibits. History is history and some of it is uncomfortable and arouses strong emotions. This does not mean it should be shoved in a box somewhere and put in large warehouse never to be seen again. A they have done in European museums the same should be done here in the United States. Guides to should be trained to answer and interact with a myriad of reactions to the exhibit and be able to mediate an informational dialogue with each experience so that it arouses different thought and ideas in a conducive manner as to appeal to all visitor’s experiences and reactions. Just with the people I work with in this graduate program, we all different opinions and viewpoints, but seem to handle everybody’s ideas well. There are exceptions that do occur, but as in museums, there are policies to help in dealing with those rare occasions.

[1]Zach Aarons. “Memo to all those visiting the tenement museum to fight about immigrants.” Forward, December 4, 2016.

[2] Alliance Board of Directors. Diversity and Inclusion Policy. American Alliance of Museums, February 26, 2014.

Idaho State Archivist

As long as there is recorded history, companies, government agencies, libraries, and museums archivists will always be needed to organize, store, preserve, hold accountable, and improve access to historical documents through improved technology. I interviewed Jim Riley of the Idaho State Archives to get a better understanding of what archivists do and the different skills needed to do the job.

Jim Riley originally went through the history program for both his undergraduate and graduate studies at Boise State and did an internship at the Idaho State Archives. Jim also worked with people at the Idaho Military History Museum working on Spanish American War, which was his area of study for his master’s thesis. Jim also worked on the Adjutant General’s collection at the Idaho State Archives, gathering information on active duty troops back to the Nez Perce War. Jim ended up getting a job with the Idaho State Archives due to his internship. Jim also helped digitizing old photos at the archives, and is currently working at the Idaho State Archives and teaching at Boise State in history.

The usual work that Jim does at the archives is processing public record requests for people, which he says takes half of his time, the other half is working on projects finding information for the legislature, needed on a piece of legislation or local projects. The people that Jim works with on a regular basis vary depending on the project. Sometimes, Jim works with legislature, local law enforcement, and the public. Jim can, at times, choose projects occasionally but most of his time is responding to requests or assigned projects, needed by the local community or legislature.

A history degree or a master’s in history is needed for most entry level positions. Jim says that if you are looking to work in most university libraries, one needs a master’s degree in Library Information Science. Jim expected when he started that he would be doing a lot more in collections instead, he is doing more in legislative work and public requests, but that always changes and he finds interesting things when doing research or researching requests for the public or legislature. The salary normally stays the same and depends on the budget by the legislature. Normally cost of living increases are given each year. Jim says he makes, as a state archivist, $33,000 a year.

Positions in the archive field working for the state are funded by legislature and the state budget. Some states have better funding so more archivists can be hired. Job opportunities also vary in some places depending on specific fields. Jim says that this is typical for most state jobs but can change when working for private companies. Jim mentioned that one archivist left and got a job at company, which would pay substantially more. Jim says that the education needed for entry-level and mid-level is at least as master’s degree. The specific degrees needed are history, public administration, and library information science. The most favored degree would be the Library Information Science Degree, but it depends on what kind of work you want to do in archive field. In order to progress into the upper levels of employment more education is needed. A PhD is a typical requirement when progressing into the upper levels of employment as an archivist.  In order to make more pay, most archivists end up taking a test to get the Digital Archive Specialist Certificate and the Arrangement and Description Certificate. This allows helps with getting new jobs or progressing in their current job. These certificates are similar to what an accountant would get in order to become a CPA.

I have talked with Jim prior to this interview, and it always fascinating to hear about all the different information and projects he works on at any given time. I have noticed that Jim’s demeanor changes when I ask him about his job and the excitement in his voice when he explains some of his current and past projects. Jim really enjoys his job and has been a huge influence on me, in pursuing a career as an archivist. Jim’s best advice for getting a job in archives is to get an internship because that is the best way to experience in the field. The majority of people that do internships get jobs with archives because they are already known and have experience working in that particular archive and with the staff already.

Slavery and Public History

Slavery has been a questionable history when it is brought up in the public spectrum do to its uncomfortable and conflicting history. When I say conflicting it’s due to the individual you are talking to. If a you talk to most white southerners, as I have, while livening in the south, you get conflicting answers to the race question. John Vlach states “when discussing the history of racial slavery in the United States can be traced, suggests James W. Loewen, to the inadequate textbooks that they are compelled to read while in High School.”[1] I agree that the true reason we still have racial inequalities in the nation is due to the inaccurate history. In order to find a common ground of tolerance education is needed through the eyes of the oppressed in order for some kind of change to happen. All I see happening from the past during the civil rights movement to today is young white and black youths have a common misconception of the past that is conflicting the future. “When students are fitted with intellectual blinders, they are likely to become citizen’s incapable of understanding why we remain a divided nation.”[2]

The constant struggle to try adapt to the struggle race causes issues. As a white male, I cannot begin to assume or perceive how that life was even as a descendant of Irish immigrants. In order to become a more unified country we as all people need to find common ground and respect the pasts of oppressed nationalities. The constant adaptation of racial segregating laws or ideals will be the down fall of our union.

[1] James Oliver Horton, and Lois E. Horton, eds. Slavery and public history: The tough stuff of American memory. New Press, The, 2006.Pg. 57.


[2] James Oliver Horton, and Lois E. Horton, eds. Slavery and public history: The tough stuff of American memory. New Press, The, 2006.Pg. 57.