This is an archive of MSNHA's newsletters
Notes from the director
By Dr. Carolyn Barske
Interim MSNHA director
After a long, relatively quiet summer in our office, it is wonderful to welcome back all of the public history students. Hearing the beginning of the semester excitement in their voices as they talk about projects makes us all smile.
Many of them have been very busy over the summer. Class of 2017 graduate and former MSNHA graduate assistant Sam Keiser spent the summer interning at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Stephanie Vickers, a UNA Public History Center graduate assistant, completed an internship at Pond Spring: The General Joe Wheeler Home and traveled to London for the UNA History and English departments’ study abroad trip. UNA public history certificate student John Griffin also studied in London this summer. Lori Reynolds, the MSNHA’s new graduate assistant, worked with the USDA Forest Service at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Sarah Harbin, a new public history student and graduate assistant with the UNA Public History Center, helped the MSNHA with our Native American educators’ resource packet. Brian Corrigan, the new graduate assistant with the UNA Archives and Special Collections, worked on the Tennessee River educators’ resource packet. Brian Murphy, graduate assistant with the MSNHA, spent the summer working on a re-interpretation plan for Pope’s Tavern and research for our forthcoming book and companion exhibit on the Tennessee River and northwest Alabama. We were also joined this summer by Sewanee student Victoria Hinshaw, who worked on an educators’ resource packet for the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and worked at the studio giving tours.
Even though the summer was quiet without most of our students, much happened! We were able to officially announce our partnership with Sacred Way Sanctuary, Museum and Interpretive Center. The site will serve as our interpretive center for our Native American heritage theme. We will partner with Sacred Way on educational and cultural events. Dr. Yvette Running Horse Collin, the director of the site, is also working with the MSNHA as our Native American heritage consultant. As a public historian, I have been trained to think about preservation not just in terms of buildings, books and papers. Preserving other parts of a people’s culture, whether food, language, traditional clothing or animals. The project that Yvette and her husband, Sean, have built will do all of those things, but will especially work to ensure that the horses of many Native American tribes do not disappear. The adoption program Sacred Way operates helps to introduce new people to these amazing animals. The museum and interpretive center will serve as a center for the study of the native people’s connection to the horse. I still remember the first time I visited Sacred Way. We walked all around the property – looking at the different herds of horses. I teared up on numerous occasions, so impressed with the work that Sean and Yvette were doing. As some of you know, I have ridden horses my entire life and have always recognized the important connection between people and these amazing animals. I am proud, as are all MSNHA staff, to call Sacred Way one of our partners.
Our partnership with Florence-Lauderdale Tourism continues to result in great events at the tourism center. In June, the MSNHA and Florence-Tourism held a Young Singer/Songwriters of Muscle Shoals event, highlighting the next generation of music makers in the Shoals. In July, we partnered with tourism on W.C. Handy Festival events. We are so thankful for the hard work the tourism team puts into these events and look forward to developing many more like them!
The UNA Continuing Education program, the UNA Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation and the MSNHA are partnering on the development of the NatureCORE program. This program is focused on facilitating the development of adventure services businesses in the heritage area and across the state. We will be holding our first certification program, focused on planning for and starting adventure services businesses, on January 23-25, 2017. Future offerings will include Wilderness First Responder courses and specialized certification programs, including ACA Canoe and Kayak certification. For more information, contact Patrick Shremshock in HPER at email@example.com.
We have also been working with the Bear Creek Development Authority on a project to preserve, protect, reopen and interpret Overton Farm in Franklin County. The Overton Farm dates back to 1817, when Abner Overton moved from North Carolina to the big bend in Bear Creek. The farm remained in the family until TVA acquired it in 1969. TVA turned it into an educational facility. Thousands of children visited Overton Farm until its closure in 2013. Stay tuned for more news as the project develops.
In June, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with delegations from the Alliance of National Heritage Areas and the Southeastern Tourism Society to advocate for the heritage area program, which had been zeroed out of the president’s budget. We all worked very hard to articulate why our program is so important. The heritage area program is an excellent example of a public-private partnership. We are able to take a relatively small amount of federal money ($18.8 million for 49 heritage areas in 2016) preserve historic sites, carry out community development projects, restore and preserve land, and gave out over $4.5 million dollars in grants to organizations in our communities. Luckily, after meeting with congressmen, senators and house and senate appropriations staff, the heritage area program was put back into the budget with level funding.
Our grantees from our April round of grants are working on their projects and we are gearing up for another grant round, which closes on Sept. 15. We have spoken to many groups across the heritage area who have some exciting projects planned. We will update you soon on these new projects.
Grants deadline is Sept. 15
Remember that 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15, is the deadline to submit applications for MSNHA's community grants program. Visit the grants page at our website for details.
Student spotlight: Sam Keiser
Recently, I returned from an Education Internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C.
I, along with two other interns, researched and acquired various video, audio and photographic assets for an educational tool that will allow visitors to create mini-documentaries. Future visitors will hopefully see this finished project later this year in October. Additionally, we hope that this educational tool will eventually be available worldwide as an app on the NMAAHC website.
For me, personally, working as an intern for NMAAHC was a dream come true. Being able to be a part of the newly opened museum was an experience I will never forget. The amount of excitement and anticipation of the people waiting in lines every day has to be seen to be believed. The fact that I was able to contribute in some small way to the continued success of the museum is simply incredible. I hope to return in the future to continue to educate the public on African American issues and history.
I would also like to highlight my fellow interns who worked on this project. Langston Leake, from the University of Georgia, and Veronica La Du, from George Washington University, were an absolute pleasure to work with. All three of us were able to put together a project I believe we can be proud of. Both Veronica and Langston brought their unique skills and unbridled enthusiasm to the project. We shared in the joys of research and the frustration of dealing with copyright law. Both members of my team were fantastic and have bright futures ahead of them.
Overall, working for NMAAHC was an excellent experience. I encourage anyone and everyone to go visit the museum if you have a chance. The museum is an absolutely must see experience.
Name: Lori Reynolds
Hometown: Ravenswood, West Virginia
Undergraduate studies: Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Degree: Environmental Studies; Historic Preservation
Graduate Studies: UNA, Public History
Why I chose history: I was lucky to have had the opportunities while growing up to visit and experience many of our country’s National Monuments/Historic Sites/Parks/Forests, Civil War sites, battlefields, and other places of historical significance. Since I began visiting those places at such a young age, the importance of each site did not always stick with me. However, being pushed by a historic and nature inclined family over the years, subsequently led me down the path that I am on today to further pursue a career that will help bridge the gap between people of all ages to their human histories and natural histories.
What I specialize in: Historical and natural interpretation. This includes a combination of human histories and the historical development of our natural environment. I would like to work on bringing more historians into the park system (state and federal), increasing the interpretation of human histories and their role in parks that are otherwise centralized on natural history.
After I’m out of school: Eventually I hope to return to work in northern Arizona with the National Park System. But, if that does not work out right away, I plan on returning to work another season at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest near Big Pine, California -– home to the world’s oldest known living organisms!
Projects for MSNHA: Previously, in my undergraduate studies, I interned for MSNHA in 2013. During that time I volunteered on behalf of MSNHA at Pond Spring (cleaned, stored and recorded artifacts), Florence Lauderdale Public Library archive (transcribing divorce record books) and Colbert County Tourism (developed OnCell tour script). Now, I'm working on compiling and organizing surveys from the Oka Kapassa Festival and developing an educators’ resource packet for MSNHA on music in the Shoals.
Other interests: I enjoy exploring new places, planning trips, riding horses/mules, hiking (I am doing the 52 Hikes Challenge), spending time with my family here and afar, sitting by the campfire and reading books that are not textbooks – time permitting.
Background: After graduating from college in 2014, I briefly moved to Alabama to live at home and began taking summer coursework in geographic information science at UNA – thinking about getting a GIS certificate. But then I got the opportunity to move to Grand Canyon, Arizona, and work as a trail guide/wrangler for the National Park Service concession, Xanterra. After I completed my summer GIS class, I moved west and did not return for another two years. During my time out west, I primarily did guide work from muleback, but I did take the summer of 2015 off and worked as an interpretive ranger for the NPS at Olympic National Park in Washington. After I came to the conclusion that an advanced degree would help further my career placement, I returned to the Shoals last July and began taking graduate classes in public history. I chose to pursue public history because of the relationship that it seeks to form between the public and the past, helping to raise awareness and embrace the significance that acknowledging the past can have on our future. This summer I had the opportunity to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Bishop, California, stationed in the White Mountains, where I provided information to visitors and gave ranger talks on the Great Basin Bristlecone Pine. I also worked on developing an interpretive manual for future rangers and employees at the Shulman Grove Visitor Center. This manual will be a guideline to providing visitors with interpretive information on the history and remarkable adaptations of the Bristlecone Pine.
Dempsey named new UNA public history director
Brian Dempsey is a new faculty member in the history department at UNA and also has been named director of the UNA Public History Center, which works closely with the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area on preservation, archiving and other public-history projects.
An assistant professor with UNA, he received his Ph.D. in public history at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, writing on the development of blues tourism in Mississippi. Since then, he has worked in academia, the music industry in Nashville and most recently as director of communications and brand on a town revitalization project in the Arkansas Delta. Originally from the Mississippi Delta, he focuses his work on the changing identity of the American South, Southern heritage tourism and cultural landscape analysis.
And the winners are ...
MSNHA's first photo contest encouraged several northwest Alabama residents to send in their best creative & evocative images of the Tennessee River, Native American heritage, music and nature.
And thanks to MSNHA partner Larry Bowser, manager of the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa, in Florence, grand prize winner Mary Carton received a night's stay & dinner at the 360 Grille while category winners Laura Gaile Brown, nature; Courtney Hamner Siegel, the Tennessee River; Eamonn Walsh, Native American heritage; and Carton, music, received gift cards to the Marriott's Swampers Bar and Grille. All winners also received cash.
MSNHA will hold another photo contest soon, although dates have not been finalized. Check MSNHA's Facebook page & website for details.
Here are the winning photos:
Laura Gaile Brown, nature, heron at Joe Wheeler State Park
Mary Carton, music, Travis Wammack's guitar
Founded by Yvette and Sean Collin, Sacred Way Sanctuary is an educational and research facility dedicated to preserving the Native American horse and other indigenous animals. The Sanctuary is on land that was part of the 1806 Congressional Reservation—the first federal Indian reservation in the U.S.
“The Sacred Way Sanctuary Interpretive Center and Museum will be one of MSNHA’s interpretive centers for our Native American heritage theme, which our management plan requires,” said MSNHA Interim Director Carrie Barske. “The museum will open this fall, and we’ll partner on educational events and programs such as sponsoring Native American speakers and other community activities that help preserve native history and culture.”
Yvette Running Horse Collin, who holds a doctorate in Indigenous Studies from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, will also serve as a Native American consultant for the MSNHA.
“She’ll focus on outreach to schools and civic organizations throughout our six-county region and development of educational programming for the interpretive center,” Barske said. “She’ll also work on educating the community on Tuscumbia Landing and the Trail of Tears and represent MSNHA’s Native American heritage at local, national and international events.
Collin said she was honored to be able to enrich the native-heritage educational experience for community residents and visitors.
“We also look forward to offering opportunities such as drumming, traditional singing and language camps in the summers for families who wish to connect more deeply to their native heritage,” she added.
The partnership also was announced with a post on the National Heritage Area Programs' Tumblr blog.
Grants deadline is Sept. 15
Notes from the director
Dr. Carolyn Barske, MSNHA interim director
Public history students have worked as graduate assistants for the heritage area for over three and a half years. These students have developed cell phone tours, designed educational resource packets, developed inventories of historic sites, drafted National Register nominations and created promotional materials. In the classroom, my public history students have worked on projects including walking tours, traveling exhibits, historic district nominations and museum assessments, which have all contributed to the mission of the heritage area.
One thing I quickly learned as we developed these projects is that the heritage area is full of a rich, diverse and vibrant history. Having the opportunity to help to share this history has been an exciting journey for both my students and me. Along the way, students have learned to become professionals, to work as team players and to build relationships with their communities. It is certainly exciting to have the opportunity to serve as interim director of an organization that has been so fundamentally important to the success of public history at UNA.
In the coming months, I am looking forward to developing new projects that benefit all six counties of the heritage area as well as forming new partnerships that will benefit all of our communities. Stay tuned for more news about our grants program, upcoming talks and events and exciting new projects.
Dr. Carolyn Barske appointed
interim director for 2017
Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
University of North Alabama
Dr. Barske arrived in the Shoals in 2012 to be the first director of the public history program at the University of North Alabama. She has done a fantastic job with UNA’s Public History program and has been an exemplary faculty member in the department of history. Despite her success in higher education, Dr. Barske recently informed UNA that she wanted to focus all of her efforts on her true passion -- working in the field of public history. Her decision could not have come at a more opportune time for the MSNHA, and I am confident that she will provide outstanding leadership as interim director.
We will be conducting a search for a director for 2018 and beyond, and you will hear more about this search in the coming months. In the meantime, there is much work to be done, and I want to personally thank all of you for your continued willingness to partner with Dr. Barske and the MSNHA to serve our region. UNA is proud to be a partner with the MSNHA, and we are excited about what can be accomplished in 2017 under Dr. Barske’s leadership.
Welcome, Dr. Barske!
Barske will focus on reorganizing & revitalizing MSNHA administration until UNA hires a new full-time director.
She graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South with a bachelor's degree in history in 2002, from Northeastern University with an master's degree in history/public history in 2004 and from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a doctorate in history in 2011.
Barske sits on the boards of the Tennessee Valley Historical Society, Natchez Trace Parkway Association and National Register Review Board for the State of Alabama. She teaches courses in public history, historic preservation and historical administration. She has worked on a broad range of projects related to historic preservation, including National Register nominations, field-mapping projects and historic cemetery preservation projects. Her publications include the “Sulphur Creek Trestle Preservation Project” (co-authored, The Alabama Review, 2015), “Florence: Alabama’s Renaissance City” (Alabama Heritage, 2015) and Images of America: Florence (2014). She has also authored numerous Encyclopedia of Alabama entries, including “FAME," "The CCC in Alabama” and “Pope’s Tavern.” She is an avid equestrian, hiker and kayaker.
Public-history grad student
sees history everywhere
By Brian Murphy, UNA graduate student
Hometown: Buffalo, New York
Undergraduate studies: State University of New York at Geneseo
Degree: Bachelor’s in American Studies
Graduate studies: UNA Public History Program
Why I chose history: I was drawn to history because I liked hearing stories about the past. We can better understand ourselves and our society by studying the past. How the past shapes the present is something I think about quite a bit.
What I specialize in: I’d like to specialize in architectural history; I am fascinated by the history of American building practices & architecture. But I am also interested in local Florence history, African-American history and social history in general.
After I’m out of school: I’ve never had as much fun working as the past months I’ve spent at MSNHA. I'd love to continue to research and work on local history projects. Working in a museum would be terrific.
Projects for MSNHA: St. John’s Episcopal Church National Register of Historic Places Nomination; documentary outline for St. John’s Church; St. John’s Historic Preservation Center outline; educators' resource packet for MSNHA architecture.
Other interests: Outside of reading and researching, I enjoy hiking, fishing, some woodworking and spending time with my family. I’m a huge Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres fan; I spend a lot of time agonizing over them throughout the year.
Background: I graduated from college in 2007 and worked as a supervisor in an industrial laundromat before becoming the manager of a lumberyard in central Pennsylvania. I thought about going back to school, but my wife was in a doctoral program & at the time we could not afford it. My wife, daughter and I moved to Florence in August of 2015 and while looking for jobs, I heard about UNA’s Public History program. I talked to Dr. Matthew Barlow about public history — what it was, what you could do with a degree in it, why it was important — and I was hooked. My first semester I took historic preservation with Dr. Barske & I really gravitated toward it. I helped work on the McFarland Heights National Register of Historic Places Nomination and enjoyed everything about the process. I really like thinking about creative & engaging ways to present history and am planning to do a directed study project at Pope’s Tavern that focuses on a redesign of that museum. There is such an interest in history in Florence and it feels great to where so many people care about their history.
working with Partners for Sacred Places & MSNHA
The Rev. Dr. Tom Osborne, deacon of Grace Episcopal Church, Sheffield, and Ninon Parker, trustee of St. John’s Church, first approached the MSNHA for advice while seeking financial assistance for the church’s preservation. Then-MSNHA director Alma Hubbard researched options & found the Partners for Sacred Places program. Upon notification that the church was selected to participate with the Partners, an advisory board was established that included various representatives of the community, as was prescribed by the program. A series of meetings was held, during which additional participants were tapped to take part in a community asset mapping. Although not bringing funds to the church, the mapping event was designed to discover ways that the community could utilize the building above its role as a church.
The building was constructed in 1852 to serve an Episcopal congregation established in 1839. St. John’s is Alabama’s oldest Carpenter’s Gothic Church. It is believed to be the state’s earliest example of a trend among Anglican congregations to build frame churches reflecting the English Gothic style, as led by New York architect Richard Upjohn. The church was closed for regular service in 1955 but opens its doors once a year for the annual All Saints’ Day memorial service. Additionally, it is used for meetings, visits by tour groups, weddings and funerals.
In late September, Bob Jaeger and Joshua Castagno from Partners for Sacred Places came to the Shoals to lead the community asset mapping event, which was attended by some 75 participants. The historical, architectural, religious and cultural aspects of St. John’s Church were common themes during the session, resulting in vibrant dialogue & ideas for continued enjoyment of the church. St. John’s remains essentially unchanged since its construction and contains all the original furnishings & stained glass windows. Excellent acoustics were noted as an attribute for its use for small concerts and performances.
In December the team returned its results in a report that compiled ideas generated at the mapping event.
"It is now up to us at the local level to disseminate the information gathered in the report and to determine the best ways to utilize the findings," said Parker. “I hope that we can follow up by inviting the public to review the report and formulate plans to hold some new events in this wonderful old building and thereby work to continue preservation efforts. Many people love this church and many in the community consider it an important landmark.”
Working with the MSNHA, graduate student in UNA’s public history program Brian Murphy assembled an extensive nomination application to the National Register of Historic Places. St. John’s Church is in the Tuscumbia National Register Historic District, but Murphy's new research supports an individual designation.
“This will become an added benefit of participating in the Partners for Sacred Places project,” Parker added. "We thank the MSNHA for its proactive support of historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.”
MSNHA sets April 3 grants deadline, workshop
Grant awards from $1,000 up to $10,000 are available for heritage-focused projects in MSNHA’s six counties: Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan. To be eligible, proposed projects must focus on assessment, preservation activities, interpretation, archiving or workshops and training sessions and be connected to one of the MSNHA’s themes: music, Native American culture or the Tennessee River.
MSNHA has always wanted to offer sizeable grant awards for larger projects. Now that our grants program is established, we’re confident we can help museums, archives, associations, historic sites and other community non-profits reach some of their goals.
Guidelines, applications and instructions are at msnha.una.edu.
MSNHA will host a free grants workshop.
Notes from the director
By Alma P. HubbardAs the new director for the heritage area, I have been impressed by so much of what I've discovered here, but one of the things that has impressed me most is the strong sense of community pride I hear in the voices of our partners throughout the six-county region. Whether speaking with members of historical associations, talking with docents and volunteers at museums or listening to the interests of our community grants applicants, I always hear a strong collective note expressing community stewardship of our regional heritage striking a dominant chord in these conversations. I am also encouraged by the interest to build public-private partnerships to better determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.
One new collaborative community partnership with the heritage area is in the works. St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Tuscumbia, and the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area have won a grant to work with the national nonprofit Partners for Sacred Places to help activate this historic building as a vital community resource.
The Technical Assistance grant recently was awarded by the Heritage Development Partnership in collaboration with the National Park Service. The grant will fund an asset-mapping project which will engage local leaders and members of the public. Asset-mapping will connect the dots between key community institutions and resources to respond to unique opportunities that will contribute to the vitality of the National Heritage Area and surrounding communities.
MSNHA is interested in the preservation of historic places of worship as part of its mission to protect and preserve cultural and historic resources throughout its six-county region. The connection of assets can lead to new programs, connect new resources and initiate the new partnerships that will make the most of St. John’s place in the community.
St. John’s work with Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places will focus on a bold approach to advance the preservation and active use of the church’s important historic building by thinking creatively about ways to respond to the needs and opportunities posed by the community. Partners is the only national, nonsectarian nonprofit committed to the preservation and active community use of America’s older religious properties.
“This is an exciting opportunity both for St. John’s and for the entire Shoals community,” said Ninon Parker, St. John’s trustee and project partner.
“This project will allow the Diocese of Alabama to provide a significant service to the broader area that was so long served by this venerable old parish,” added Rev. Thomas Osborne, deacon of Grace Episcopal Church, Sheffield, and project partner.
MSNHA hosts grant workshop
The workshop was well-received with 18 participants representing three of our six counties within the heritage area. The potential grants applicants attended in preparation for the upcoming grant application deadline of 5 p.m., Monday, May 2. (Visit the grants section of our website for details and an application form.)
During the afternoon session, attendees learned about National Heritage Areas and the National Park Service from MSNHA director Alma P. Hubbard. Grants administrator Cathy Wood went over the application process and Anita Holcombe, director of grants and contract accounting, walked everyone through the budget and financial details. Kyrel Buchanan, interim director of sponsored programs, introduced the workshop speakers.
Participants were able to have their questions answered, and the MSNHA staff learned more about potential problems applicants might encounter in the application process. In addition, several successful grant applicants from the first two rounds of grant cycles were able to speak from their own experiences.
In a participants' survey filled out after the workshop, most of the attendees said they had learned much about MSNHA's grant program and felt a degree of confidence in their ability to submit a successful application.
MSNHA plans to host another grant writing workshop in the fall and to develop online tutorials, as well.
Heritage Area helps sponsor storytelling festival
Our sponsorship of the festival includes
- the Shoals Music Tour, hosted by songwriter, musician and UNA visiting associate professor Walt Aldridge, 1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19;
- the free Singing River Songwriters' Round, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 19, with Kate Campbell, Donny Lowery, Mark Narmore and Aldridge, in the GUC Performance Center on UNA's campus;
- workshops by speaker and songwriter Minton Sparks, of Nashville, throughout the day Friday and Saturday, May 19-20, in the GUC Performance Center and Loft, free for single-day or two-day ticket holders.
Additionally, Walt will host the Singing River Songwriters’ Round with Kate, Donny and Mark to communicate the power of music to the audience through songs and stories of their inspiration. Additionally, they will enlighten the audience on the music industry and their personal experiences. Donny and Mark are both members of the Greater Shoals community and their stories will reflect the special heritage unique to their home. This free community event will incorporate stories that will educate the audience about the art of songwriting and the music industry.
Minton specializes in conducting writing workshops that inspire and guide individuals on how to share their stories. Additionally, she will present programs to students in local schools during the festival dates.
For more information, visit the festival website.
MSNHA Passport Program
Full-page promotion in Early American Life
One of those vital partners is UNA’s master of public history program. We have a strong and valuable relationship with this program. With the help of professors Carrie Barske and Matthew Barlow and several graduate students, the MSNHA has successfully undertaken many community projects, such as creating visitors’ guides and educators’ resource packets.
Our headline achievement so far is federal approval of our Management Plan. The development of this plan took almost four years, from the issuing of the Request for Proposal to its approval by the U.S. Department of Interior in September of 2014. Having our management plan approved means that the MSNHA is eligible for more federal funding to distribute within our six counties – something we have looked forward to since we started. We have implemented that major portion of the Management Plan with the introduction of our Community Grant program. MSNHA staffer Cathy Wood has done the heavy lifting for this program. Everyone is looking forward to the next grant round -- the deadline is 5 p.m. Monday, May 2. Make your plans to apply!
Just like a child who is growing up, I feel that it’s time to pass on the leadership to a new and full-time director. I know the MSNHA needs to go in directions that aren’t my strong suit, so a search was done for the next caretaker of the heritage area. We were lucky to find that person in Alma Hubbard, who has the skills needed for the next phase of developing the MSNHA into a collaborative and sustainable heritage area that supports and celebrates all of our stakeholders.
I will continue as Special Projects manager, working on projects that have been on the table for a few years. We all will work to help our communities better tell the stories of our little piece of heaven.
World-famous traveler visits MSNHA
As the door to the MSNHA office creaked open, a smiling bandana-clad woman wearing cargo pants and hiking boots walked in and got straight to the point.
"Are you open?" she inquired politely in a lilting accent that seemed Australian and international at the same time. "I'm interested in your Heritage Area."
Carol Kiwi Donovan, a New Zealand native and world-traveler now living in California, is a legend in the birding world -- she was the first person to view and log all 204 worldwide bird families.
Always up for a challenge, she now has a new goal: to travel to every single National Park Service unit, National Heritage Area, National Trails and Affiliated Areas (a total of some 450-plus locations). And she does it in style -- driving an 18-foot recreational vehicle. Donovan's also collecting stamps from the popular Passport to Your National Parks program and was glad to learn that the MSNHA had 13 stamps available in its six counties.
"I love national parks and national heritage areas," Donovan said. "They are such a valuable resource and a priceless treasure for families. Part of my goal is to encourage all grandparents to help their grandchildren discover what's out there."
Online posts are full of "Kiwi" sightings, as hikers, campers, birders and other outdoor enthusiasts and families around the country joyfully share their chance meetings with their lively fellow traveler.
Driving west to visit Shiloh National Military Park in Shiloh, Tennessee, and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, in Corinth, Mississippi, Donovan was headed home to California for a break before her next round of NPS visits.
While in the MSNHA, she had stopped by Helen Keller Birthplace, Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, one of MSNHA passport stamp locations. And although she didn't have time to explore MSNHA's other passport sites, she promised a return visit.
"You have some lovely country here," she said about her drive through northwest Alabama. "And you have a strong musical influence, too, I've read? I look forward to coming back and staying longer next time."
Public-history grad student
specializes in black studies
By Sam Keiser
UNA graduate student
Name: Sam Keiser
Hometown: East Limestone, Alabama
Undergraduate studies: Spring Hill College
Degree: Bachelor’s in History
Minors: Theology and English
Graduate studies: UNA Public History Program
Why I chose history: I chose history because I was drawn to the idea of telling stories about the past. Being an avid reader also fueled my interest in history. However, I think the main reason I chose to study history is because it’s important to remember where we came from and how events of the past have shaped and still shape how we interact with the world today.
What I specialize in: Right now I would definitely say I am in the process of becoming specialized in African American history, particularly the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. However, I hope to expand my specializations into other topics as well. For example, recently, I’ve become interested in learning more about the history of Native Americans in Florence.
After I’m out of school: The number one goal I have after leaving school is to work in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture being built.
Projects for MSNHA: Educator’s resource packet and PowerPoint for the Tuscumbia-Courtland and Decatur Railroad.
Other interests: I’m an avid soccer player and I hope to be able to do some type of coaching in addition to working in a museum in the future. I am also an avid reader of pretty much anything that catches my eye.
Background: I’m Sam Keiser, a graduate assistant working with the MSNHA while pursuing my master’s in public history. I’m from East Limestone, where I attended East Limestone High School until I graduated in 2011. I then attended Spring Hill College, where I was a four-year member of the soccer team. I’ve also played semi-professionally for a local team in Alabama for several seasons, as well.
While in school, I majored in history with a double minor in theology and English. I was also a member of the Spring Hill history club during my time there. During the summers I would volunteer at the Alabama Veterans Museumand Archives, where I would give tours and do housekeeping. My senior year I worked as an intern at the historic Oakleigh House in Mobile. I first heard the term “public history” while working at Oakleigh and decided I wanted to pursue that as a career. I chose to attend UNA partially because it was close to home and I had received a scholarship offer. I was also drawn to the fact that this would be the first public history master’s program in the state of Alabama. I also felt like being on the ground floor of a new program would give me more of an opportunity to interact with the community of Florence. Overall, I believe UNA will prepare me to pursue my goal of working in the field of public history.
Grants winner Oka Kapassa teaches
students about Native Americans
One of the first recipients of MSNHA’s community grants program was the Oka Kapassa Festival Inc., which used the grant award to help fund the annual two-day Oka Kapassa – Sharing the Legends festival in Tuscumbia this past September.
Oka Kapassa brings educational resources and presenters, demonstrators and living-history enactors together to teach area students and the community about Native American folk traditions and cultural heritage. Activities include historic tribal dances, storytelling, hands-on experiences, visual and performing arts and craft demonstrations. The festival targets fourth- and fifth-graders in Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties and adjacent areas of Mississippi and Tennessee, based on the Alabama Social Studies Course of Study content.
About 1,000 students attended the festival on Friday and about 9,000 people attended on Saturday. Participants included 25 vendors/crafters, 25 performers and five living-history enactors.
“Volunteers and community participants were impressed with the amount of information the exhibitors and crafters conveyed in a short amount of time. Those attending the library performances were complimentary of the quality of the performers and variety of experiences -- Native American music, dance and storytelling,” said project director Rose D. McGee. “And community participants were surprised by the rich Native American heritage and history found in the Shoals.”
Diamond Go-Sti Brown, a Cherokee (Eastern) living-history enactor, commented that Oka Kapassa was one of the most authentic Native American events he had been a part of over the years, McGee added.
An e-newsletter from the
Calendar of eventsPlease note that this is only a partial listing of events in the six MSNHA counties. There's plenty going on almost every day. Visit the MSNHA Facebook page and website for links to activities and news from Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.
Did you know that the MSNHA website has some valuable information for educators, especially those teaching Alabama and local history and American Indian heritage? Click on the links below to go straight to these lesson plans.
MSNHA office moves to the Governor's House
Come to the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area's new office Tuesday night during the W.C. Handy Music Festival and get a first look at the recently published "Images of America Series: Florence."
MSNHA is helping sponsor the Music & Food Fest on North Court Median, 6-10 p.m. Tuesday, featuring local performers Dillon Hodges and the Local Saints. It's your chance to discover MSNHA's new office space in the Governor's House, home of Alabama Gov. Edward A. O'Neal (1882-1886) and to buy a copy of the book by University of North Alabama assistant professor of history Dr. Carolyn M. Barske and graduate students Clint Alley, Jesse Brock and Wesley Garmon.
Copies of the book are $24. Also on Tuesday night MSNHA will sell copies of the just-released Music Shoals Music Sampler Collector's Edition CD with such songs as "You Better Move On," by Arthur Alexander and "When A Man Loves a Woman," by Percy Sledge. CDs are $10 each.
Last month, MSNHA moved from UNA's campus to the historic building, which is pictured in Barske's book.
"We still are part of the UNA family and we're so grateful to the university for housing us during the past four years," said Judy Sizemore, MSNHA director. "This move makes us more accessible to visitors looking for tourist information and for our National Park passport stamps, and it puts us in one of the MSNHA's prime historic locations."
Located at 468 N. Court St., the house was built c. 1840s. O'Neal bought it shortly afterwards and it was his home until he died in 1890. O'Neal and his wife, Olivia, had several children; one son, Emmet, bought the nearby Greek revival Courtview in 1900 and was governor from 1911 to 1915, making Edward and Emmet the only father and son Alabama governors. The O'Neal family had the house until the 1970s; sisters-in-law Nancy O'Neal and Dianne O'Neal bought and restored it two years ago -- the sixth generation of O'Neals to own the house.
MSNHA is renting the two rooms to the right of the central hall. With immediate access from the front door, the front room is dedicated to telling the MSNHA story. Visitors can find tourist information here highlighting the history, culture and natural resources of MSNHA's six counties. In addition, Sizemore wants to host meetings and workshops here. The second room is work space for her and the MSNHA staff.
As appreciative as she is to be in such an historically significant building, Sizemore is equally happy to be on Court Street.
"Downtown Florence, like many of our downtown areas in the MSNHA, is thriving," she said. "We have restaurants, art, music, shopping, theatre, museums and much more, as well as UNA. The energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and our MSNHA office is right in the middle of it."
Sizemore is planning an open house for the new office space. Check MSNHA's website and Facebook page soon for details.
Call MSNHA at 256.765.5028 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on ordering the book and CD.
Meet the graduate assistants ...
Map Our HistoryThe Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has added six cancellation stamps to the Passport to Your National Parks© program, which encourages people to explore the history and natural resources in America’s national spaces.
New sites are Alabama Chanin, 462 Lane Drive, Florence, factory tours of its clothing manufacturing at 2 p.m., Mondays-Fridays; Alabama Music Hall of Fame, 617 Hwy. 72, Tuscumbia, exhibits celebrating Alabama’s music heritage; Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum, 1219 County Road 187, Danville, preserves and presents artifacts and geological evidence of the settlement of the Creek (Muskogee), Yuchi (Uchean), Shawnee (Algonquin), Chickasaw (Muskogee) and Cherokee (Iroquoian) tribes; Wheeler Wildlife Refuge, 3121 Visitor Center Road, Decatur, a bird habitat also offering hiking and fishing; Belle Chevre, 18849 Upper Fort Hampton Road, Elkmont, creamery tours of hand-crafting French-style goat’s milk cheese; and Rock Bridge Canyon Equestrian Park, 331 Trail Head Road, Hodges, horse-riding trails.
Also new this year is MSNHA’s Map Our History© program. Families can download a frame-able hand-illustrated treasure map -- designed by Muscle Shoals High School art teacher Jason Behel -- of the 13 stamp sites from msnha.una.edu, collect all 13 stamps and then receive a commemorative coin with the MSNHA logo.
“Participating in Map Our History is a perfect summer-time family activity,” said MSNHA executive director Judy Sizemore. “It’s a great way to travel throughout our part of the state, learn about history in our own backyard and discover some new outdoor recreational opportunities.”
The cancellation stamps are free. Visitors should check operating hours in advance since many sites aren’t open full-time, Sizemore added.
Last year MSNHA established seven passport sites: W.C. Handy Home, Museum and Library, Florence; Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, Tuscumbia; Red Bay Museum, which offers historical displays and memorabilia from country music star Tammy Wynette; Pond Spring, home of Confederate Gen. Joe Wheeler, Courtland; Mooresville, the first town incorporated by the Alabama Territorial Legislature, on Nov. 16, 1818; Old State Bank, completed in 1833, Decatur; and the MSNHA office.
Passports cost less than $10 each and are sold at easternnational.org as well as gift shops at Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tenn.; Corinth Interpretive Center, Corinth, Miss.; Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center, Tupelo, Miss.; and other National Park Service locations.
For more information, visit msnha.una.edu.
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Plans, projects & Grammys
Thank you for supporting the
An e-newsletter from the
Calendar of eventsPlease note that this is only a partial listing of events
in the six MSNHA counties. There's plenty going on
almost every day. Visit the MSNHA Facebook page for
links to activities and news from Colbert, Franklin,
Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.
Scott and Nancy Hubble, of Florida, came to the MSNHA
office in search of the National Park Service passport cancellation stamp -- and were thrilled to find out there were six more in northwest Alabama to collect! Avid RVers, the Hubbles were staying in Red Bay while their vehicle was being repaired at Tiffin Motorhomes. They travel around the country in pursuit of the passport stamps and were amazed at the history, music and culture they were discovering in MSNHA's six counties.
in the next issue
of Heritage Happenings:
New projects and updates
from UNA's public-history graduate students
MSNHA sites named to the National Geographic
Gulf Coast States Geotourism mapguide
Fall events in MSNHA's six counties
The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has posted its management plan online at parkplanning.nps.gov, the National Park Service’s website for planning and public comment, and is asking for feedback.
Deadline for comments is Oct. 3. Anyone can access the plan
at parkplanning.nps.gov/MSNHAplan, read it and submit comments.
“The management plan is a framework for us, a constitution that will govern how
MSNHA operates,” said Judy Sizemore, MSNHA executive director. “It includes an
interpretative plan with comprehensive actions and strategies for telling the area’s
stories as well as a business plan and goals for the future.”
Sizemore and a planning team spent two years collecting data, putting the
management plan together and holding public meetings to introduce and explain
the plan. Now they are accepting online comments before revising the plan and
submitting the final draft to the National Park Service, which oversees the National
Heritage Area program.
Congress has designated 49 National Heritage Areas across the country in
recognition of historical and cultural significance and natural resources. Operating
under the University of North Alabama, in Florence, the MSNHA preserves and
promotes the history and culture of a six-county region in northwest Alabama. It is
the only National Heritage Area in Alabama.
For more information, contact the MSNHA at 256.765.5028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the interns ...
The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area hosted two historic-preservation interns
this past summer. The July newsletter included an article on Lori Reynolds and her
work at Pond Spring, home of Gen. Joe Wheeler. This newsletter focuses on Ashley
Armstrong, second-year master's of arts student in public history at Middle
Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tenn., and graduate research assistant
at the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation.
By Ashley Armstrong
MSNHA Intern, Summer 2013
worked for TVA, and I spent part of every summer break in Sheffield. My
grandmother always mentioned they’d lived in “the village” when it was
house the family lived in after the village was moved.
I didn’t think about the village again until my second semester studying public
history at Middle Tennessee State University. I was assigned a book on New Deal
housing to review for class, and it included a list of World War I housing projects. It
startled me to see Florence and Sheffield on the list because I had only ever heard
the housing development called “the TVA village.” An Internet search turned up
information on Village No. 1. My father and I drove out to see it on our next visit to
Sheffield, but I could find little about what I now thought of as “my village.”
I am studying to be an historian and have been a genealogist for several years --
research is something I do for fun. So I started with everything I could find on Village
No.1. The Journal of Muscle Shoals History was one key source. Then I discovered
photographs of Village No. 2 in the Florence-Lauderdale County Library’s online
archives. About that time, TVA donated to the University of North Alabama’s Collier
Library a collection of documents related to Nitrate Plant No. 2, which Louise
Huddleston helped me investigate last spring. At that point, I was able to plan a
class project that has now turned into my thesis. So far it has been fascinating work.
The nitrate villages in Sheffield and Muscle Shoals were unusual from the
beginning. The U.S. government hadn’t built housing before World War I. Lack of
good housing for war workers at Navy shipyards prompted the creation of the
Emergency Fleet Corp. and then the U.S. Housing Corp. for factory workers in
1919. Those two programs account for most of the war building projects. But
Sheffield and Muscle Shoals began as part of an earlier effort. The Ordnance
Department had its own budget and didn’t have to wait for funds to be approved or
allocated for housing. Villages No. 1 and No. 2 are examples of these “ordnance
historically significant for their
architecture. Both Village No. 1
and No. 2 were designed by well-
known landscape architects of the
time -- innovators in the relatively
new field of city planning. Both
villages were considered so
interesting at the time that
architectural journals published articles about them that included floor plans and
sketches of several types of houses. One such article features a drawing of Village
No. 2 as it was originally envisioned -- many times larger than the few blocks which
When TVA auctioned off Village No. 2’s houses in 1949, the design of its layout was
lost, but many of the houses still can be seen in Sheffield Heights. Although oral
history can preserve memories of living in the Village, it’s often the tangible artifacts
that can call up those memories and make them real for future generations. The
more I learn about Village No. 2, the more certain I am the remaining houses
should be acknowledged as an important part of Muscle Shoals’ and Sheffield’s
history. I hope my research can help keep Village No. 2 alive for the grandchildren
of other residents, and their children, as well.
(Photo of Muscle Shoals Industrial Village -- now called Village No. 2 -- from the William Lindsey McDonald Image Collection, Collier Library, University of North Alabama.)
program, which encourages people to explore the history and natural resources in
America’s national parks -- have been a huge
success. We've had folks from all
over the country stop by to add to
their collections. The stamps are
free and feature an image of each
location as well as the date. Visitors
seeking cancellation stamps should
check days and times of operations
since many sites are staffed by
volunteers and open only part-time.
The MSNHA office, Keller Hall 240
on the University of North Alabama
campus, offers an MSNHA stamp for a total of seven stamps available.
Passports cost less than $10 each and are sold at www.easternnational.org as
well as gift shops at Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, Tenn.; the Corinth
Interpretive Center, Corinth, Miss.; the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center,
Tupelo, Miss.; and others.
Here's a detailed list of the stamp locations, by MSNHA county:
Calendar of eventsPlease note that this is only a partial listing of events in the six MSNHA counties. There's plenty going on almost every day. Visit the MSNHA Facebook for links to activities and news from Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan counties.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announces Distinctive Destinations – a program designed to encourage visitation of historic sites by the National Trust’s members and supporters. Participation in the program is free to historic sites and exposes participating sites to the National Trust’s network of more than 750,000 members and supporters and more than 2 million annual website visitors looking to explore historic places across the country.
What the National Trust will provide:
What participating sites agree to:
Click here for a list of current places and apply to join the program.
Students in the University of North Alabama’s public history program have been busy working on digital history projects for a summer-school class. Check out their blogs, which contain some directed assignments about digital history and will soon be documenting their progress as they begin to build their websites:
Volunteers -- including Boy Scouts and community members -- work to build a Southern heirloom garden on the grounds of Old State Bank earlier this summer.
Copyright © 2013 Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
Thank you for supporting the
April, 2013 Newsletter
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
Calendar of events
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