Ellis Island is an interesting case study when discussing the American collective memory. Collective memory often refers to how a group of people remember something.1 In this case, we are discussing how the American people remember a certain national event or place and attach that memory to the national identity. Those memories of specific events and places shape how Americans view themselves and their country in the greater sphere of the world. There are very few places that exist in the United States in which so many Americans share a meaningful and often direct connection to as they do with Ellis Island. Few other places can claim such a hold on millions of descendants of Americans within the last century. As a public history space, Ellis Island also embodies the ideals of the “American Dream” and our identity as a nation of immigrants. At the same time, this identity is often collectively ignored in recent decades of political conversations. This personal and collective memory is what makes studying Ellis Island and preserving it so important. Continue reading “Ellis Island: The American Experience”
Familial Borderlands: Women of All Red Nations and the Fight Against Coerced Sterilizations
Historical Question: How Did American Indian Women Experience And Respond to Corerced Sterilizations?
Earlier this year, while conducting research on American-Indian women activists groups, I came across No Más Bebés, an independent documentary promoted by Renee Tajima-Peña This heart-wrenching account told the story of Latina women in Los Angeles, in the 1960s-1970s, who underwent surgery for a tubal ligation (having one’s “tubes tied”) after doctors at a Los Angeles County hospital coerced them to sign medical release forms. In other words, while Latina women were going through labor at a L.A. County hospital, doctors solicited them to sign English-only medical release forms to perform tubal ligation. Some doctors obtained these signatures from minority patients 1) who did not speak English, 2) while under the influence of pain medication, or 3) while being denied pain medication until a signature was obtained.
National Parks Week, held annually for 10 days in April, is a time where all entrance fees are waived for all National Parks, National Monuments, and National Historic Sites. This event, sponsored as a partnership with the National Park Foundation and approved by Presidential Proclamation1 allow all National Park Services visitor the opportunity to visit and explore some of America’s greatest treasures, from natural beauty to historically significant sites. National Parks Week provides cost-effective opportunities to explore National Parks and Monuments. My family and I decided to take advantage of the opportunity for free admission during National Parks Week and set out to explore Cabrillo National Monument. Continue reading “Find a Park Series: Cabrillo National Monument”
Dave, my partner, and I specifically budget to travel each year, forgoing other items and experiences. We do this because we find travel an enriching experience. Our worldview changes each time we go somewhere new. We also develop into better people because while experiencing new cultures, we gain a greater empathy for others, and learn more about ourselves. A large part of our travel includes visiting museums. Unfortunately, museums seem to possess a bad reputation as only for a select group of people who like history, art, or reading. This cannot be further from the truth. History and art museums are a great way to spend time on a trip, especially if the travelers are willing to do more than take a picture of a view or exert themselves physically while on an activity. This case needs to be made because too often I hear negative comments when I suggest museums as a tourism option. Visiting museums are often the most memorable, if not the best, part of my trip.
On a recent visit to Arizona to see my dad, he bestowed upon me the greatest gift I could have asked for: his entire collection of family photographs and documents. I have been researching my family tree for over four years now, taking all of those family stories and well known family members I had heard about my entire life, and began putting dates, locations, and other details to each one. Since informally earning the title of family historian, I believe my dad felt comfortable placing them in my care so that I could discover even more about our family. Each photograph is like a little clue, something that brings me closer to the truth and brings life to each ancestor I have researched and spent years finding and learning about. While this particular post focuses on one photograph in that collection, I know as I delve further into the entire collection, the more it will open itself up to me to share new information with you in the future. Continue reading “The Unknown Face: Identifying Historical Photographs and their Subjects”
One sunny afternoon, I enjoyed a walk off-base in Okinawa, Japan. As I strolled down a sidewalk I watched as U.S. school children, within the fences of the U.S. military base, shot at each other with their toy Uzis while playing a game of war. No doubt these children copied what they indirectly experienced on a daily basis, in their own military communities. These experiences include the viewing of propaganda created by Armed Forces Network which often details historical military missions on public TV, the sounds of aircraft flying overhead, gate-guards who stare down passengers while holding large automatic weapons, and parents who continuously deploy. Notably, this situation of playing war is not unique to military children alone. My observation that day was not a political statement of ‘play-acting war,’as many children around the world, regardless of their affiliation with a military, play war games with sticks, toy guns and weapons, and video games. But for me this one moment began to spark questions regarding what playing “peace” looks like? Continue reading “Book Review: Michael G. Long’s “Peaceful Neighbor: Discovering the Countercultural Mister Rogers””
In May 2011, I graduated with a Master of Arts in History from the University of San Diego. During my final year in graduate school, I eagerly applied to as many history jobs as I could find. Contrary to the assumption that all History MAs go into teaching, I wanted to begin applying what I had learned in graduate school outside of the classroom. I hoped to find a job, particularly with a Park Service (e.g. National Park, State Park, Forest Service) where I could practice historical interpretation. Unable to find a local Park Service position, I broadened my scope to positions at museums, historical societies, historic preservation firms, auction houses, government agencies, and many others. To my dismay, I received very few interviews. Of those interviews, none translated into meaningful full-time employment. Reluctantly, I expanded my job search to include open positions at colleges and universities.
In March, Bygone Babes’ inaugural month, contributors examined early influences on why they decided to pursue history as a field of expertise and career, in the “Why History?” series
Recently, I found an old box of books, stored for years in my parent’s attic. Rummaging through the box of my childhood keepsakes and notebooks, I found my collection of Dear America books. Dear America is a series of young adult historical fiction books written from the perspective of teenage girls. Each novel, written in the form of a diary, follows a different girl at various moments of American history. Serving as witnesses to historical events, these girls share their thoughts and feelings about what is happening around them. This series was my first experience with history and the historical fiction genre and hold a special place in my heart. The Dear America series helped me overcome challenges with reading and guided my consciousness as young reader and later as a historian.
In March, The C.O.H.O.R.T.’s inaugural month, contributors examine early influences on why they decided to pursue history as a field of expertise and career, in the “Why History?” series.
Most kids are raised going on family vacation road trips. We have all seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, reminiscent of being squished in a car for days in pursuit of the ultimate theme park family experience. Instead, I was loaded in a minivan with my two sisters, my aunt and uncle, and my dad in pursuit of American history. One of the earliest memories I have of these family vacations is standing in an open field at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, reading a plaque about battle movements by Custer’s 7th Cavalry and the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes. Continue reading “Why History?: A Minivan In Pursuit of American History”