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August 2011 I

the latest from
Suite 603

 


August 2, 2011

This issue of the newsletter focuses on some of the press that the humanities has gotten in recent weeks. People, projects, and events related to state humanities councils and NEH have been covered in the US Airways magazine and the New York Times, sometimes quietly in the background. Even though it is not NEH related, the National Archives' food exhibit and its partnership with internationally renowned chef José Andrés was just too good to pass up. This exhibit complements the many food related programs of state humanities councils.
Greensboro's Elsewhere Collaborative's Storefront Lectures were supported by the North Carolina Humanities Council. The next lecture is August 12 and the topic is "Media History" (look under happenings on the Elsewhere site). Elsewhere was featured in the July US Airways magazine.
Announcements from Federal/State Partnership
Ed Ayers on the meaning of Bull Run
Peaches
Digital Maps, the New York Times, and NEH
"What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?"

Announcements from Federal/State Partnership

Looking into Suite 603 from the doorway
Looking into Suite 603 from the doorway
♦ NEH announces recent awards

♦ Please sign up all council staff & board to receive our monthly e-newsletter

♦ August 23 deadline: Bridging Cultures at Community Colleges

♦ Everything you need is there: Federal/State Partnership website (login fedstate password partnership)

Ed Ayers on the meaning of Bull Run

Three scenes from the Battle of Bull Run, published at H.H. Lloyd & Co.'s, c1861. Library of Congress
Three scenes from the Battle of Bull Run, published at H.H. Lloyd & Co.'s, c1861. Library of Congress

"On a hot July morning, exactly 150 years ago, the armies of the barely born Confederacy and the badly shaken United States surrounded the town of Manassas, not far from a creek called Bull Run, for miles around, in every direction. It was a Sunday. Some people thought one major battle would be the very war itself, the beginning and the end, the resolution of decades of arguing over the place of slavery in the future of the United States."

This is how Edward L. Ayers began his keynote address commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run. In the address, excerpted in the New York Times, he placed this crucial battle in its historical, human, and technological context.

Ayers is co-host of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities' radio talkshow BackStory with the American History Guys and a former member of the National Council on the Humanities. Heis the president of the University of Richmond, author of the Bancroft Prize winning book In the Presence of Mine Enemies: The Civil War in the Heart of America, and creator of the NEH-supported website In the Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War.

Peaches

Peaches as seen in the New Georgia Encyclopedia
Peaches as seen in the New Georgia Encyclopedia
 

In honor of the favorite fruit of summer, the New York Times ran an article about the fact that, while Georgia considers itself the Peach State, it is not the premier producer of peaches. That honor belongs to South Carolina.

We asked the folks at the Georgia Humanities Council how they felt about this muckraking journalism.

We learned that the New Georgia Encyclopedia, a program of the GHC, had a hand in this article. Sarah McKee, the encyclopedia's project director, says that, "Although the NGE is not cited directly, we actually helped out a bit…. A NYT researcher called us to find out when exactly Georgia came to be known as the Peach State. We were able to direct him to our entry on 'Peaches,' which narrows down the name's inception to the decades following the Civil War, but because this is an unofficial nickname a more precise date is unknown."

In response to our question whether NGE has taken a position with regard to this Georgia v. South Carolina rivalry, Sarah adds that, "I'm not sure we have much to offer in the way of rebuttal, unfortunately. The NYT is correct in stating that South Carolina has long outpaced Georgia in the production of peaches, and the question of which state's peaches taste the best is not something we have yet tackled in the NGE :-) But certainly if people are interested in learning more about the history of peaches in Georgia, we can refer them to the entries 'Peaches' and 'Raphael Moses,' who is credited as the first commercial grower in the state."

Laura McCarty, vice president of GHC, doesn't have a problem with South Carolina's peach dominance. "I grew up in SC and there have been more peaches grown in a single SC county than are in all of GA for a long time..."

Digital Maps, the New York Times, and NEH

A portion of the Pleiades Project map indicating recently modified resources.
A portion of the Pleiades Project map indicating recently modified resources.

One of the most emailed newspaper articles of the last week has been "Digital Maps are Giving Scholars the Historical Lay of the Land" which appeared in the July 26 New York Times.

Jennifer Serventi of NEH's Office of Digital Humanities points out that a number of the projects mentioned in the article and in the follow-up blog were funded by NEH, although NEH was mentioned only with regard to David Bodenhamer's “Conceptualizing Humanities GIS: An Expert Planning Workshop on Religion in the Atlantic World” (Office of Digital Humanities grant). He also received a subsequent award for “New Tools for the Humanities: Visualizing Complex Spatial Data” (Division of Preservation and Access grant).

Benjamin Ray received a Collaborative Research Grant for “The Salem Witchcraft Papers: Transcription and Archival Project" (Division of Research Programs).

In the links embedded in the NYT article, spatial humanities takes readers to a video about the University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities for “Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship” (ODH grant). Geographic historical information systems takes readers to a site from the Association of American Geographers that received a Chairman’s Grant via the Division of Preservation and Access for the “Historical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Clearinghouse and Forum."

The blog, “Readers Share Their Spatial-Humanities Projects,” includes more information about the University of Virginia project as well as the Pleiades Project funded by the Division of Preservation and Access. The Pleiades Project, which covers the Graeco-Roman world, includes information about 31,953 ancient places, 26,513 ancient names, and 32,729 ancient locations.

"What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?"

State humanities councils know the appeal of programs about American food ways because of the popularity of the traveling exhibition, Key Ingredients: America by Food, now on tour with the Arizona Humanities Council and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Indiana Humanities and the Mississippi Humanities Council each have important program initiatives about food.

This summer the National Archives exhibit "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" is serving up American food according to government records. This exhibit explores the government's effect on the American diet with sections devoted to farm, factory, kitchen, and table. Images and articles from the exhibit are available online. The exhibit runs through January 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Real historic American food can be enjoyed at a nearby Washington restaurant that has developed a partnership with the Archives for the duration of this exhibit. José Andrés, the James Beard 2011 Chef of the Year, has created America Eats—named for a 1930s WPA writers project. The recipes at America Eats have been carefully researched and the menu invites patrons to "eat the history of America." A sampling of early American catsups is on the menu, including Mushroom Catsup which is based on a recipe from Catherine Beecher's Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book (1846). Spaniard Andrés is a collector of American cookbooks who says that, "“If we don’t see the story as an ingredient, we miss a very important part of the [dish].”

He sounds like a humanist to us.


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