Slave cabins, The Hermitage, Nashville, TN
…so perhaps this idea won’t reach you until it’s too late!
(Kidding. I assume most readers of this blog who are American historians do African American history ever month of the year, at least in months that you teach.)
Commenter Sharon recently wired me an idea that’s absolutely brilliant:
Your blog entry about slave sites had me thinking. Over the last few years, I have tried to incorporate slave-related sites into my travels so I can photograph them for a course I teach called Homescapes: the material culture of everyday life in America, 1600-1860. Some historic sites do better at interpretation than others, but I’ve yet to see one that is truly admirable. (Of course, I tend to be disappointed about the interpretation of pretty much everything at historic sites–don’t get me started about women’s history.)
In this context, I just went into Picasa (the Google photosharing app) and searched on “slave quarters.” The results are very interesting. Clearly, tourists make a point of photographing slave sites, and the images are pretty amazing.
I wish more tourists labeled exactly where they took the photos they post to Picasa. I might never have to leave home again.
I thought this was such a great idea that I’d pass it along to all of my readers. My guess is that many of you are always on the lookout for great images to show your students, something that’s more difficult for those of us who teach in earlier periods, and it’s also harder for those of us who want to show our students examples of anything other than high style architecture or material culture. (And, by the way, doesn’t Sharon’s Homescapes course sound fascinating? Lucky students!) Have some others of you found Picasa already? How is it working out for you?
Sharon’s dispatch makes me think that museum studies people and other public historians might consider surveilling Picasa and other photo sharing sites like it (yes, even the dreaded Facebook and MySpace b^ll$h!t social networking sites!) to see what aspects of house museums and historic sites people photograph. What Sharon has found at Picasa indicates that there is significant public interest in the history of slavery, and perhaps museums and local history organizations will be inspired to offer more of it.