Historians and archivists will lead a Finding Your Roots on Saturday, May 13, from 12:00-1:00 pm at the Bullock Museum. The workshop aims to help researchers to extrapolate from historical documents and archival sources the often fragmentary personal stories of enslaved men, women, and children. Maria Esther Hammack, a PhD student in the Department of History at the University of Texas-Austin, will discuss her experiences working with relevant archival documents at the University of Texas. Her dissertation examines the role of Texas as both a market for slavery and a gateway for fugitive slaves who sought freedom in Mexico. Ashely Stevens is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. She will share resources from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and impart strategies for tracing family histories and the difficulties that individuals encounter in tracking down African American relatives in the historical record. The Finding Your Roots Workshop coincides with the exhibition, Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865, which explores the domestic slave trade in the United States. The program is presented in partnership with the Texas Library and Archives Commission.
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DataRescue Austin is a nonpartisan alliance of local programmers, scientists, and writers dedicated to maintaining pubic access to federal data. The group is part of a national campaign to suppress information related to climate change and environmental degradation that is at risk of suppression and deletion for political reasons. On April 26, the group hosted an event at the Pickle Research Center to train new volunteers and to create trustworthy copies of federal climate and environmental data. The group particularly seeks the contributions of historians, whose own research depends greatly upon access to federally-controlled archives. Learn more about DataRescue Austin here. Questions about future volunteer events should be directed to Eric Busch (email@example.com), Digital Archivist and Historian at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.
On January 21, 2017, students and staff from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPHOP) at the University of Florida travelled to the Women’s March on Washington as part of an experiential learning project. Their goal was to interview people with diverse viewpoints and backgrounds at the inauguration and the Women’s March and to learn form the juxtaposition of these two historical events. In particular, students and staff sought to explore how President Trump’s election has affected different people’s sense of safety, belonging, diversity, and inclusion. Students received training in various methods of oral history data collection—interviewing, recording, transcribing—and have since created podcasts and mini-documentaries about the Women’s March for scholars, students, and the general public. SPHOP hopes to use oral histories from the Women’s March to build empathy and to promote civic engagement among scholars and the public. Click here to learn more about the Women’s March on Washington Archives Project, which is co-sponsored by SPHOP and the UF Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women Studies Research.
By Edward Shore
Border Public History is an initiative of the History Department at the University of Texas-El Paso to preserve the public history of the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez metropolitan area. Directed by Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva of the UTEP History Department, Border Public History fosters collaboration among historians and the general public to “recuperate collective memories of the border region that have been forgotten or silenced.” Public historians in the El Paso/Juarez metropolitan area have recovered rare photographs of Old Town El Paso; recorded and transcribed the oral histories of ex-Bracero workers; and published memoirs in English and Spanish that detail what everyday life was like before the drug wars and the fortification of the U.S.-Mexico Border.
Currently, Border Public History is dedicated to sharing stories about old El Paso neighborhoods like Duranguito and Chihuahuahuita that are excluded from top-down renditions of history and which are threatened by gentrification and urban renewal. In October 2016, the El Paso City Council approved a plan to construct a $180 million-dollar multi-purpose arena in the Union Plaza District that will displace many long-term residents of the downtown area. Click here to learn more about Border Public History and the efforts of local historians and the general public to preserve the historical memory of the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border.
By Edward Shore
Unfinished Sentences is an initiative of the University of Washington Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) to encourage public participation in support of human rights in El Salvador. The campaign aims to document and share the stories of survivors of crimes against humanity committed in El Salvador’s civil war (1980-1992) while supporting Salvadoran efforts for truth and accountability. In February 2015, a team of U.S. and Salvadoran researchers led by University of Washington sociologist Angelina Snodgrass Godoy published a report detailing gross human rights violations in a November 1981 military operation in Cabañas province in northern El Salvador. The Santa Cruz Massacre included the indiscriminate killings of civilians, including women and children, by forces commanded by retired Col. Sigifredo Ochoa Pérez, currently a member of the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly.
Through close collaboration with attorneys at the Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas,” members of Unfinished Sentences met with survivors of the Santa Cruz Massacre in both El Salvador and the United States, some of whom have given public testimony about the events. Unfinished Sentences also filed more than a hundred Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to various U.S. government agencies to obtain classified documents related to the case. In October 2015, the University of Washington Center for Human Rights sued the CIA for illegally withholding information about Col. Ochoa Pérez, who was trained by the U.S. military at the Inter-American Defense College. The lawsuit managed to apply pressure on CIA officials, who gradually declassified documents related to Ochoa Pérez.