This week, in archival news, I found an article in the Associated Press about a recent trend wherein local and state governments sue individuals seeking public information. Examples provided in the first paragraph included an Oregon parent who “wanted details about school employees being paid to stay home. A retired educator sought data about student performance in Louisiana. And college journalists in Kentucky requested documents about investigations of employees accused of sexual assault.” In these cases, rather than having their requests for these materials approved or denied, the agencies they petitioned responded through legal action.
These cases rarely seek damages from the defendants (those who requested the information), and according to the Associated Press, the lawsuits ask judges to “rule that the records being sought do not have to be divulged.” The government officials engaging with this trend state that they believe it best to have judges determine whether records should be released in cases where the legal obligations for said records are ambiguous. Although this seems a valid concern on the surface, I see no reason why such officials could not instead confer with legal counsel privately instead of dragging their petitioners through a court room.
One of the points we discussed in class this week was how archivists are public servants who seek to make the information in their repositories as accessible as possible within legal restrictions. It is the archivists goal to help researchers or users find the materials they need and encourage them towards records they think might serve them better. In fact, the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) website states within its purpose that, “Archivists provide important benefits and services, such as: identifying and preserving essential parts of the cultural heritage of society; organizing and maintaining the documentary record of institutions, groups, and individuals; assisting in the process of remembering the past through authentic and reliable primary sources; and serving a broad range of people who seek to locate and use valuable evidence and information.” The actions described in this article strike me as this tenet of SAA values and ethics’ antithesis. Although the SAA’s Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics are not enforced, to complicate a researcher’s quest for information through something as serious as legal recourse not only refuses that researcher their information, it also discourages them, and others who might wish to conduct research in such governmental repositories, from doing so. This defies the SAA’s Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics, and strikes me as the behavior I would expect from an authoritarian regime, not a representative democracy.
 Ryan J. Foley, “Governments turn tables by suing public records requesters,” Associated Press, September 17, 2017, https://apnews.com/7f6ed0b1bda047339f22789a10f64ac4.
 Society of American Archivists, “SAA Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics,” Society of American Archivists, https://www2.archivists.org/statements/saa-core-values-statement-and-code-of-ethics.
This week in Material Culture our class was introduced to the objects we will be studying and using to contextualize Lesley’s history as a sneakbox. Sneakboxes originally served as utilitarian vessels, intended for duck hunting, fishing, and the like. Although Lesley was actually built as a recreational vessel in the 1930s (by which point sneakboxes had become popularized beyond their original utilitarian purposes), this history remains pivotal in understanding the broader history of sneakboxes.
The item I was assigned is an eel fyke net, likely used to catch eels in the Delaware River. In my object observation exercise, I noticed several interesting features. For one, the rod which one holds to use the fyke is made of wood. More specifically, a stick. The net section of the fyke is comprised of eight wooden rings all connected by the twine netting. Twine was also used to tie the wooden rods together into their ringed shape. I was impressed by how the rings were made of singular rods, not several shorter pieces of wood. I found myself wondering what kind of wood was used that could be so flexible. I also wondered what fishermen would treat the twine netting so that it would not rot or deteriorate. As it is, the netting is rigid and I wonder if it was always this way. In sketching the fyke, I focused on the nets weaving. The twine forms diamonds across the hoops, the appearance of which I attempted to sketch as well.
Functionally speaking, the outermost rings of the fyke are connected to the rod by either twine or an iron twist-tie of sorts. These two rings are able to expand across the rod to open the fyke prior to placing it in the water to catch the eels. Considering this fyke originated in the Delaware River area, I wonder what kinds of eels one would catch with this. The object itself is thirty-eight inches long, which should help narrow down the possibilities when I research this later on. Regarding weight, the object itself has some heft to it, but it is not cumbersome. Simultaneously, if one were to catch several eels within this fyke I wonder how much upper body strength one would need to possess to lift it out of the water. Other questions I considered while examining the eel fyke were whether it was bought or handmade by the original owner, how many eels would the fyke hold at once, and how many eels would one need to feed their family on a given night.
When I walked into the archives on Wednesday to meet my object for this semester I could never have anticipated something like an eel fyke, and I look forward to researching their usage historically, and how it all ties back to Lesley and sneakboxes.
In class this week we talked in depth about the structures archivists use to create and maintain order in their archives. We discussed description and the creation of finding aids, both of which I gained experience in during my work with the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance back in the fall of 2015. The PMPA brought me on as a student intern to help sort through several containers of materials obtained from the former Pennhurst State School and Hospital in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and other sources. I visited their office in Haverford once or twice a week to document the materials I found in the containers, and later to organize them into folders, and then the finding aid.
The finding aid for the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance Papers is divided into three series: the Pennhurst Papers, Conroy Journals, and the Baldini Papers. In class this past week, we discussed the structures of finding aids, which descends, in order, from the repository, to the collection, then the series, then the folders, and finally the individual documents. In this case, the repository and collection were the same entity, the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance; an organization devoted to promoting, “an understanding of the struggle for dignity and full civil rights for persons with disabilities, using the little-known history at Pennhurst. By sharing this tragic story as well as its landmark victories, we seek to educate citizens in local, national and international communities, to assure that we never go back.” I outlined the series above, but the Pennhurst Papers series is akin to what we described as an “artificial collection” in class. Granted, it is a series, not the entire collection. The collection itself is arranged around the PMPA’s mission, as defined above, but this particular series is a compilation of materials donated by “urban explorers” who found documents from the 1940s during their “exploration” of the Pennhurst property, as well as documents, photographs, journals, and artifacts donated by leading members of the PMPA like Dana Olsen, the PMPA Projects Manager, and Dr. James Conroy, the organization’s Co-President. In brief, this particular series is made up of various materials supplied by various donors, which reminds me strongly of the “artificial collections” we discussed this week.
Although I did not create the PMPA’s finding aid for their archives single-handedly, I contributed to the document’s organization, as well as its series descriptions, background note, and scope and content note. After discussing all that goes into processing materials in an archives, I understand better the work I did two years ago, and although I was new to that work at the time, I look back on that work with what I consider pardonable pride, both for the quality of my work and its importance to the folks for whom the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance advocates.
 Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance, “Welcome to the Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance,” Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance. http://www.preservepennhurst.org/ (accessed 9/15/2017).
This week, I found an interesting article about Chew Tee Pao, an archivist for the Asian Film Archive (AFA) in Singapore. The AFA serves to acquire, protect, and showcase regional and local films dating as far back as the 1930s. Chew is part of a team that examines and cleans these films, and determines whether they require restoration overseas.
In class this week, we discussed one role of the archive being to maintain and restore materials within collections as much as possible. If Pao or his colleagues determine that a film reel is particularly degraded, and thus beyond their ability to clean it, they send it to film restoration professionals elsewhere. During my time interning with the Elwyn School Archives in the Spring of 2016, I was tasked with looking over some of the old film reels in their collections, some of which date back comparably to those Pao mentions in this article. Many in the Elwyn Archives were significantly degraded, and part of my job was to seek out estimates from film restoration professionals nearby. In this article, Pao mentions "vinegar syndrome decay," the same phenomenon that plagued many of the reels at Elwyn.
I was an undergrad during my time in the Elwyn Archives, and reading about Pao's work with the AFA in Singapore, I more clearly see the value of that experience. Not only did I work to further develop the Elwyn Archives’ finding aid, but I also aided in maintaining films that could hold untold value for those researching the history of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I would be interested, going forward, to read more about archives that deal with collections of old film reels, and those professionals who restore reels that are damaged or degraded.
Hariz Baharudin, “Confessions of a Film Archivist,” The New Paper Singapore, August 14, 2017: http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/confessions-film-archivist
I am fascinated by the potential intersections between public history and social activism, and an article I found through the "Archives in the News" Google group provides an interesting example. On Tuesday, August 29, ABC News Australia posted a story about the "Documenting the Now" project, which seeks to document the vast amounts of information regarding human rights violations in the United States uploaded via social media, particularly Twitter and YouTube. This initiative is a joint effort between Washington University in St. Louis, University of California in Riverside, and the University of Maryland.
This article addresses a number of important archival issues that these institutions face in this project. One such issue is consent. Ed Summers, a researcher at the University of Maryland, asserts that consent is particularly important in documenting individuals' tweets if doing so could place them in danger. A more basic concern that Summers and his colleagues have regards the volume of information they document. This seems to be a question of accession. Summers asks how much they should keep, and how they should make those choices. Although this is always a difficult question to answer, Summers and his team have limited their intake by prioritizing higher profile tweets; those shared by celebrities, or that have otherwise been shared tens or hundreds of thousands of times, increasing their visibility.
Another platform, that this initiative focuses on is YouTube, because we often receive proof of social injustice through videos uploaded to the internet. Problems here are that the video materials could be edited to skew viewer responses. A positive point, however, is that the sheer volume of visual materials uploaded after an event allows viewers to reach more reasonable conclusions. One example is a Euromaiden Protest in Ukraine, for which video evidence enabled the apprehension of the responsible group of riot police.
The overarching question for this archive of human rights activist social media content, for me at least, is who has access to these materials, and who has control over the content and its organization? Access is always important at an archives, but with these ethical issues of anonymity and consent, how can people like Summers determine who they allow into their archives? Furthermore, in class this week we discussed evidentiary vs. informational value. My interest here lies with the evidentiary value, which stems from the archives original organization and creation. How have these archives been organized, and what might that tell us now, or researchers in the future about the history of human rights activism today, and how we document it?
1) Antony Funnell, "Meet the Digital Librarians Saving Social Media Posts to Protect Human Rights," ABC News Australia, August 28, 2017: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-29/archivist-as-activist-human-rights-in-a-digital-world/8852068.
On Wednesday, August 30th, those of us in the Material Culture course met for the first time at the Independence Seaport Museum. This semester we will be working to develop a history for one of the ISM's soon to be de-accessioned boats, Lesley. Lesley is a sneakbox, a model of boat most commonly used for hunting and fishing purposes since the early-1900s. This week, we were instructed to spend time alone with Lesley and sketch out our observations and write down questions or thoughts we had based on those observations.
My observations started somewhat broad. We know that Lesley was built as a leisure boat, but that most sneakbox boats were built to serve a utilitarian purpose. We also know (or are at least confident) that she was built in the 1930s, which would mean during the Great Depression. During discussion many said that would indicate considerable wealth from the owner, as most people during the Depression would not have had time for leisure. I, on the other hand, wondered if perhaps Lesley's design as a sneakbox was indicative of consideration for economical design. Without a doubt, her owner must have possessed sizable wealth to have the time for leisure cruises, but I do wonder if her design as a sneakbox means something that we can't yet see.
The biggest thing I focused on as I looked at Lesley, was the paint on her sides. I noticed that her underside was painted white, blue, and red (from top to bottom). I also noticed that the paint faded most at the seams between two slats of wood, and around the holes from screws and bolts. For some reason, the pattern of the fading paint stuck out to me. What kind of paint was this? What was its composition and was that particular manufacture of paint common? What kind of sealant was used to preserve it? Lesley's hull seemed to be unpainted and I wondered at first if the wood was once polished. On closer inspection, however, I realized that what I thought was a green discoloration (possibly from algae growth after she fell in her previous home), could very well have been a green coat of paint. The fading and chipping of the paint on the hull seemed the same as that from below.
One last thing I noticed in my examination of Lesley this week, was the numbers on the boat's underside. Looking at the boat from the front, on the left there were three raised, metal numbers (093) in a possibly Gothic font. On the right-hand side was 11P 390. Strangely, the 11 was raised metal as well, but the P 390 were painted on in black, sans serif font. We did not discuss these numbers or their meaning in class, but I wonder if the difference in font and materials used to place them on the boat holds some meaning? Regardless, I look forward to seeing what mysteries unfold as we continue researching Lesley's story.
This week I focused on following advice I received from Amanda Casper last week, wrapping up previous projects before continuing with current and newer projects. I also spoke with Dr. Lowe to discuss next steps for my role on the NPS LGBTQ+ Heritage Initiative from a graduate student perspective and set up a tentative meeting with Bonnie along similar lines next week. I performed some cursory research on sites I received in the feedback from Susan Ferentinos and Megan Springate. I also began drafting a new scope of work for my continued role on this project, as the previous document will become outdated soon. I began work on a project summary for the new digital memory mapping project I have planned for additional community outreach, and I also updated myself on current events in Philadephia's LGBTQ+ community.
When I met with Amanda Casper last week she suggested that, because the end date for my scope of work is coming up, I should write up reflections and summaries of my work on the site assessment list and the PhillyPride memory mapping project. This involved me analyzing and documenting my methodologies behind these projects, what my results were, what I learned from my experiences with these thus far, and how that experience will shape later iterations of these projects. Regarding reflections on the site assessment list, I wrote about learning how to apply NHL criteria to sites, and about the great feedback and suggestions I received from Susan Ferentinos and Megan Springate, who not only proposed additions to the list, but also advised me on reorganizing some sites and adding information to others. I appreciate their corrections greatly, and they will be visible when I ultimately send this list out for external review in the near future. Regarding the memory mapping project I discussed my awareness ahead of time of issues regarding representation of the full LGBTQ+ community and of the likelihood that pins would be centered around Center City. These came true, but these are lessons that will shape the next, larger mapping project which will include participants from throughout the city of various ages, races and ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and sexual and gender identities. A pleasant surprise I reflected on for this project was the thematic diversity of the sites I received (religious, educational, and health institutions, bars and restaurants, and shops). I look forward to taking what I learned from both of these projects and implementing it in my continued work on them.
Earlier this week I spoke with Dr. Lowe about where things might go for me regarding my continued participation in this initiative, and she advised me to begin drafting a new scope of work that reflects the new goals that my supervisors and I have for the next six months or so on the project. Along those lines I contacted Bonnie about setting up a meeting to discuss her goals for the site assessment list, and any other goals she might have for me. I have also contacted Helen to hopefully set up a phone call or meeting to discuss her goals for the next memory mapping/community outreach project, and possibly even the exhibit project with William Way and Independence. Once I speak with both Bonnie and Helen I will draft up a new scope of work for the next few months of the project and send it out for review by all parties. Dr. Lowe also encouraged me to begin drafting a brief project summary for the new memory mapping project I have proposed. This is partially because I anticipate this project to become my Thesis Project. I am still working on this summary, but I aim to have at least a draft completed by next Friday.
Following the suggestions from Megan Springate and Susan Ferentinos for additional sites to the site assessment list, I conducted some cursory research for these new additions, which included Temple University, John Fryer, Gloria Casarez. Between 1965-1988, Dr. Joseph Wolpe, the creator of aversion therapy which claimed to "cure" homosexuality, had an office at Temple University. Considering the ongoing debate around aversion therapy, finding out that its creator once had an office at Temple University was an interesting development. Temple University also deserves to be included in this list because of John Fryer. John Fryer, a psychiatrist also known as Doctor Anonymous, the masked and vocally obscured presenter at the 1972 American Psychiatric Association conference in Dallas who, in conjunction with Barbara Gittings and Frank Kameny, contributed to the 1973 decision by the APA declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fryer spoke as a gay man and a psychiatrist and encouraged this declassification. Fryer would later become a professor at Temple University, an interesting historical foil to Wolpe's concurrent presence. Each of these men are nationally significant, as one was responsible for the creation of a "treatment" for homosexuality that has historically existed nationwide, while the other was responsible for the national declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by a national institution of mental health. Gloria Casarez, from my preliminary research, appears to be a locally significant figure. A prominent lesbian activist, Casarez is noted for her activism and for being appointed the first director of the Office of LGBT Affairs in Philadelphia City Hall, the office which Amber Hikes now holds. Casarez passed in 2014 after a battle with breast cancer, but she remains an inspiring figure within Philadelphia's LGBTQ+ community. One testament to this legacy is the mural with Casarez's face on it at 204 S. 12th Street.
There were two overarching stories I found particularly interesting, regarding current events in Philadelphia's LGBTQ+ community. The first was renewed controversy and intrigue at the iCandy gay bar, which is now infamous for its owner's usage of racial slurs aimed at customers of color last fall. Several Black organizations in the city, including COLOURS, Social Life Entertainment LLC, and Black Pride Philly, are partnering with iCandy to host an event catered towards people of color. While in theory this seems like a positive step forward for iCandy, many activists in Philadelphia see this simply as a means for the gay bar to increase its profit margins from people of color. One frequent response is that this partnership does not directly address the trauma and bigotry that Darryl DePiano's, iCandy's owner, words and business practices have caused, particularly because no community members were consulted prior to this partnership's establishment. Interestingly, Amber Hikes and the Office of LGBT Affairs in City Hall also disapproved of the partnership, saying that the Office was approached but refused to support it publicly (they are frequently solicited to support such partnerships but seldom do), and said that if the Office had supported it, there would have been community engagement first.
On a more positive note, Philadelphia came together to support its trans* siblings who serve in the armed forces, and condemning the recent statements from the President who proposed a ban on transgender folks in the military. Amber Hikes asserted that "government sanctioned discrimination has absolutely no place" in Philadelphia or anywhere else in the country. This show of support from the Office and from Mayor Kenney himself, is an inspiring show of leadership in Philadelphia that I hope will continue elsewhere.
 Ernest Owens, “Petition Calling on Milan Christopher to Boycott iCandy Booking Gains Traction,” G Philly, July 31, 2017.
 Jeremy Rodriguez, “Community Shows Support for LGBT Veterans,” Philadelphia Gay News, August 3, 2017.
This week I began establishing an advisory group for the digital memory mapping project, I attended several meetings with the Preservation Assistance team, I met with Amanda Casper to follow up on our meeting a few weeks ago and update her on what I've been doing. I also began developing a Google Drive folder to hold documentation of work I have done during my internship until this point, including the current draft of the LGBTQ+ Philadelphia sites spreadsheet, a reflection of the first memory mapping project, and my methodology in accumulating the sites spreadsheet. Finally, I heard back from Sue Ferentinos this morning with feedback on the LGBTQ+ Philadelphia sites list and responded.
During my meeting last week with Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and Shaun, we discussed the need for me to arrange an advisory group of sorts to offer various perspectives on the social media digital memory mapping project. On Monday I contacted GVGK Tang, a colleague at Temple University who is familiar with digital projects and effectively engaging with the community. She offered several valuable insights: 1) She asserted that the demographic most likely to respond to a prompt to the project on social media is younger, middle-class, white people, a concern that Dr. Bruggeman voiced at our meeting on Friday. To close that age gap she suggested I consider going door-to-door at the John C. Anderson apartments, a housing development for LGBTQ+ elders. 2) GVGK also advised that I consult lower income, LGBTQ+ people of color on how best to resolve issues of representation in this project. 3) She finally suggested that I include women in the project, as lesbian sites have a history of being ignored. These were all incredibly valuable insights for me to consider as I begin developing this projects initial structures.
On Tuesday, I had several meetings in the NPS Northeast Regional Office. The first of these meetings was a Regional Manager's teleconference which Bonnie led for Preservation Assistance. I learned that these managerial teleconferences are monthly occurrences, and that different program managers lead the call each time. The conversation was centered around possibilities for collaboration between different programs within the Park Service's Northeast Region, and Amanda Casper suggested developing a system whereby smaller parks needing technical assistance could make their need known to other programs who have the expertise and/or interest in meeting their needs. Shaun and others on the call seemed to respond favorably to this proposal, and I think it would be fascinating to see that idea actualized.
My second meeting that day was the Preservation Assistance team's bi-weekly meeting, the primary focus of which was assisting a colleague from Park's Planning devise a plan for creating a new park to encompass two significant Quaker sites in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York which are nationally significant for their representation of exercising religious freedom in 17th Century America. Her presentation on this project was fascinating to me, particularly because she explained the criteria that Parks Planning look at when seeking to create a new national park. These criteria, I learned, differ greatly from those of prospective NHL's or nominees to the NRHP. The four criteria, of which a prospective park must meet all four, are national significance, suitability, feasibility, and the need for NPS management. I found it interesting that these criteria are more matters of the practicality behind establishing a new park than the historical significance of the site, though that is a point of consideration. Although they consider a site's significance, they also ask detailed questions around why the Park Service as an entity should be responsible for that site becoming a park.
My third meeting was an impromptu catch-up session with Amanda Casper. I explained the site list, memory mapping project, and the next memory mapping project and she offered me her insights on what my next steps should be on all of these fronts. She encouraged me to send an additional follow up email to those who signed on for the internal review creating a deadline for responses. The reasoning for this, with which I agreed, is that my internship is tentatively scheduled to end next Friday (though this may be subject to change) and that by that time I need to submit this list for external review as well, which I cannot do without feedback. She also encouraged me to create a Google Drive file holding all of my materials from my internship, including the current iteration of the site list, a reflection and collection of findings from the first memory mapping project, and a summary of my methodology for the site list.
My fourth and final meeting on Tuesday was with Bonnie and the Northeast Region's student interns. The purpose of this meeting was for Bonnie, as the manager for Preservation Assistance in the Northeast Region, to respond to questions from interns who are just beginning our work with the Park Service. She answered many questions about how her background, how she became involved with the Park Service, and what substantial changes she has seen during her time with the Park Service. It was a wonderful opportunity for me as much as for the other interns, most of whom were located either in Boston or Lowell in Massachusetts, to learn more about Bonnie's background. She answered many of the questions with stories, and I particularly appreciated the stories of her time with the Park Service's Tax Act, which dealt with historic sites seeking tax deductions for their status. In brief, this meeting, as with the previous one with Parks Planning, provided fascinating insights into NPS programs with which I have not personally engaged in my internship.
I spent today, July 26, following Amanda's advice on creating a Google Drive of my internship materials, and also responding to a feedback email from Sue Ferentinos. I was delighted to hear back from Sue on the list of sites I sent out a month ago, and to receive her thoughtful response. She asserted that some of the sites I listed under the blue category lack the national significance to be considered for NHL status, though they do possess substantial potential for local preservation. I responded inquiring whether these sites contribute sufficiently to national historical themes for nomination to the NRHP. Although the NRHP is not the primary focus for this project, I want to ensure I document this potential if she believes it exists. Sue also sent me three other individuals to consider adding to the list: Reed Erickson, John Fryer, and Gloria Casarez. I will begin researching these figures when I return to work next week.
This week I submitted my fourth invoice, summarizing work completed between June 20th and July 17th, I continued photographing many of the sites on the Philadelphia LGBTQ historic sites spreadsheet I compiled, I continued developing a new outreach project following the previous one’s memory mapping theme but utilizing social media and digital tools to reach a broader audience, and I learned much more about the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in connection with my contact in Boston. Finally, this morning I met with Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and Shaun Eyring to discuss how I have met the conditions of my internship per my internship contract.
Tuesday, I was in the office and continued my work developing a proposal for a new community outreach project. As mentioned briefly last week, I am planning a second memory mapping project, this time utilizing social media (specifically a Facebook group for LGBTQ+ Philadelphians) and a digital mapping tool called Carto. I will be asking participants, “Where in Philly has been the most important place for you as an LGBTQ individual?” I will subsequently take their responses, including whatever stories they feel comfortable sharing, and place them on the Carto map. Carto is a digital mapping tool that allows for greater data visualization than Google Maps. Participants’ names will be kept anonymous, but their stories will be a significant part of this project. Ultimately, I hope to create a more populated map than I did at PrideFest, and this project will likely go on for roughly a month to maximize time for participation. Based on the specific responses I receive from those who engage with this project, I will connect the sites that matter to them with sites possessing similar histories to interest them in the larger LGBTQ+ Heritage Initiative. Thus, if they are interested in the larger project, I will keep them updated on its progress as things go forward. During a brief meeting with Bonnie on Tuesday, she outlined some of the institutional boundaries I will need to circumvent in conducting this project, and she suggested I schedule a meeting with Catherine, a colleague in the office. Catherine is currently dealing with similar issues in projects that require participant feedback, and I will be meeting with her on Tuesday to discuss how I can best conduct the project to avoid any institutional taboos.
Also on Tuesday, I heard from a colleague in Boston asking me about how viable NRHP or NHL nomination forms or documentation from HABS would be as indirect interpretation resources. I had only just learned what HABS did as a program and dove into researching more about how one documented a site through HABS and what that ultimately did for the site. During my meeting with Bonnie I asked about what the difference was in terms of historical interpretation between HABS and NRHP/NHL nominations, and she explained that HABS, per its original intent, is not meant for any interpretation. It serves solely to document a building’s historical and architectural significance. That being said, we both recently received news from Megan Springate in D.C. about a HABS study that interpreted D.C.’s LGBTQ history, which was a significant deviation from HABS’s traditional mission.
Wednesday, I once again took to the streets, photographing additional sites from the spreadsheet. This time, the sites I photographed were those I believe hold strictly local significance. This included places like the Bike Stop, the Barracks, and Horizon House. The Bike Stop is a bar that has been home to Philadelphia’s gay and lesbian leather community since 1982. In 1983, the bar began hosting the annual Mr. Philadelphia Leather competition, and in 1993 began the Mrs. Philadelphia Leather competition. Both competitions were suspended in 2009, but were reestablished in 2015. I was fortunate enough to meet 2017’s Mrs. Philadelphia Leather winner in passing at PrideFest while conducting the first Memory Mapping project! The Barracks was a Philadelphia bath house from 1976-1980. It looks like the property remains true to the original structure from that period, despite all of the ongoing revitalization efforts that surround it. Horizon House was significant in the 1970s as the primary meeting place for Philadelphia Gay Rights organizations like the Radical Queens and the Gay Activists Alliance. Prior to the original property’s demolition, Horizon House became the PAIN Center. It is now a physical therapy center. Thursday, I uploaded the new photos to the spreadsheet and Google Map.
Finally, this morning I met with Dr. Bruggeman, Helen, Bonnie, and Shaun to discuss how I have done in meeting the tasks as set forth in my internship contract. As a reminder, those tasks were as follows: 1) Develop an exhibit that will feature information about the NPS current LGBTQ sites, landmarks, and history as a community engagement tool; 2) Assessment of LGBTQ Sites for Preservation in Philadelphia; and 3) Develop a Community Engagement Model. The first task remains in development, but the conversation surrounding my work on the spreadsheet for assessing LGBTQ sites and both of my memory mapping projects was both optimistic and fruitful. Although I currently await feedback from the folks conducting internal review on the list, the four of us in the meeting discussed next steps when the time comes for an external review within Philadelphia’s preservation community as well as within the LGBTQ community. Regarding the memory mapping projects, it seems the digital mapping project I propose will be more complex than anticipated, but those complications only increase the potential the project holds. I will need to establish a project group with whom to discuss and troubleshoot the project before I initiate contact within the Facebook community.
All in all it has been a fantastic and productive week, and I remain as optimistic and enthusiastic as ever towards the work I continue doing on this initiative.
This week I began embedding the photographs I took of one section of properties into the spreadsheet as well as into a Google Map I've developed of all the properties I've assembled. I also started scheduling an internship assessment meeting between Dr. Bruggeman, Bonnie, Helen, and myself for next Friday, July 21st. I took more photographs of properties from the list and included those in the spreadsheet and Google Map as well. In addition to this, I began contemplating ideas for my next outreach project and developed a preliminary plan for that. Finally, I updated myself on all that has gone on in Philadelphia's LGBT Community over the past few weeks.
Prior to my leave last week, I photographed the first of three sections of properties from my list. This week, I went back into the city to photograph the second of these sections. This included photographing former coffee shops popular among LGBTQ Philadelphians, like the Humoresque and the Gilded Cage; Harlow's, a bar opened and operated by Philadelphia trans*celebrity Rachel Harlow; and the former address of acclaimed sculptor Beatrice Fenton. In seeking out and photographing these locations I have come to expect that several of them might no longer have an original structure left behind. This was the case with the Fenton residence, which was seemingly demolished to make room for South Juniper Street. Fenton was born in the early 1880's, so it is not altogether surprising that her childhood home is now gone. I will simply have to search for other places she lived that might still stand.
I had some initial difficulty in learning how to embed an image into an Excel Spreadsheet before it finally dawned on me that you cannot embed an image in a cell, but rather paste a similarly sized image over the cell. Once I realized this the rest came easily. Prior to my initial photography outing the other week I created a Google Map to locate the properties easily on my phone. Since then, I have pasted the sites' narratives and embedded the photographs I have taken onto their respective points. Currently the map serves as a means for me to locate these places when I go to take pictures, but it would be interesting to see if there were something else I could do with it down the road.
As part of the Temple University course that serves as a supplement to my internship I began scheduling a meeting for internship assessment with Dr. Bruggeman, Helen, and Bonnie for next Friday, July 21st. The purpose for this meeting is to discuss and assess how well I have satisfied, at that point, the duties as outlined in my internship contract. I am really looking forward to this meeting, and I believe it will be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the work I have done thus far with my supervisors, and receive valuable feedback to implement as I move forward in my work on this project.
Over the past few weeks I have continually mulled over possible future outreach projects for me to better engage Philadelphia's LGBTQ community on this project, and hopefully bring some of them on board. I am happy to say I may have finally devised one with, I believe, great potential. The memory mapping project at PrideFest last month received modest, though undoubtedly valuable, participation, but I would love to expand on that. I am developing a proposal for a second memory mapping project to be implemented on a digital platform, possibly using Carto (a mapping program with greater data analyzing capability than Google Maps). My hope is for this to be a follow-up of sorts from PrideFest, taking from that experience and, hopefully, executing a similar concept on a larger scale. I am still considering what my Big Question will be for participants, but I do have access to an audience via social media. This project is still very much in preliminary stages right now, but I plan to have a full proposal established by next week, so stay tuned!
It has been a few weeks since I read up on the current events in Philadelphia's LGBTQ community, so I spent this morning catching up. I have written before about the changes in leadership at the Mazzoni Center, a non-profit healthcare provider for the LGBTQ Community accused of racial bias and sexual misconduct. The former CEO, Nurit Shein, resigned over a few months ago, and this past week the Center's board appointed Stephen Glassman as interim executive director while the board seeks a permanent leader. Glassman is the former executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut, and former chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Glassman stated that, "As the Mazzoni Center continues to engage in its critical work for marginalized communities, my focus will be on providing a steady hand, along with effective, transparent, and accountable leadership, during this time of significant transition, in order to usher the organization into its next phase.” He will serve as the interim executive director for the next six to nine months, until the Mazzoni Center board finds a permanent leader to fill the position.