Hands-On Public History: Slavery and Reconstruction

AMST 3221 | Hands-On Public History: Slavery and Reconstruction

Public history is history that is delivered to a non-academic audience, often at historic sites, museums, archives, and on digital platforms. Some films, podcasts, fiction, and poetry might also be considered public history. This course will use all of those formats to investigate how the history of slavery in central Virginia is presented to the public.

This course will use all of those formats to investigate how the history of slavery in central Virginia is presented to the public. We will critique how historic sites in the Charlottesville area, including the university, interpret this history, and identify the political and social impacts of these interpretations.

But critique is not the only, or even the most important goal of our class. Students will collaborate with local community groups, WTJU, and Scholar’s Lab to produce podcasts and digital maps that fill in some of the gaps in the public history of slavery and its legacies in Charlottesville and surrounding counties— contributing, in some small way, to a more just and comprehensive public history.

Class participation will play a very large role in student assessment, as will the final project and all the assignments leading up to it.

Professor Lisa Goff

Student Work

Diverse “Hands-On” Portfolios

During the pandemic semester our focus for research and projects shifted. Students were invited to curate their family along the timeline of colonial, antebellum, reconstruction and Jim Crow periods. As an alternative, students could research an alternate individual in local history.

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Related Links
Company E, 4th U.S. Colored Infantry, at Fort Lincoln
Company E, 4th U.S. Colored Infantry, at Fort Lincoln photographed by William Morris Smith c. 1864

Institute for Public History

The Institute for Public History, founded at UVA in 1996 by Emeritus Professor Phyllis K. Leffler, supports students, scholars, public history organizations, and the general public in their efforts to achieve a more richly textured historical knowledge.

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Harrison Institute and Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
Harrison Institute and Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library holds more than 16 million objects including manuscripts, archival records, rare books, maps, broadsides, photographs, audio and video recordings and more.

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