Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Historian Reflects on His Legacy: Herman Viola

I am proud of many things of the things I have accomplished during my career. One, I was the founding editor of Prologue, the historical quarterly published by the National Archives. Of course, my books have meant a great deal to me and to the people I wrote about, like John Stokes, who as a high school student in rural Virginia led a student strike for better schools that became part of the Civil Rights movement—Students on Strike; Lex Layson, who spent her youth as a Japanese prisoner in the Dutch East Indies during World War II—Lost Childhood; and Joseph Lekuton, a Massai young man who excelled in school in Kenya, became a school teacher in McLean, Virginia, and then returned to his tribal homeland where he was elected to Parliament and is being talked about as president of Kenya-- Facing the Lion.

But I am most proud of having started the first intern program for American Indians at the Smithsonian.  When I started there in 1972, no Indians were employed by the Smithsonian.  Soon after I arrived at the Anthropology archives I was visited by an Indian working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs who asked me if I would allow Indians to do research in the anthropology archives. I was startled by the request because anyone could come and do research.  He pointed out that Indians thought they needed a PHD to do research at the Smithsonian and, besides, few could afford the trip to Washington, D.C.  The result of his visit was the American Indian Cultural Resources Training Program, which I administered for nearly 20 years.  We provided room and board to Indian interns to come to D. C. to do research on their tribes in the collections of the Smithsonian, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress.  They would stay up to 3 months.  At first they lived in my house, with neighbors, and with close friends.  Eventually, Congress provided better funding and things took off.  Now, all that is handled by the Museum of the American Indian.  Because of my work with Indians, I was approached about being the first deputy director of the Indian Museum. I did not get the post because I am not an Indian.   My program was extremely successful and several of my trainees gained prominence.  A Navajo woman, Lorraine Big Man, became the first accredited Indian librarian.  A Gros Ventre, George Horse Capture, became the senior curator at the Indian Museum.  A Navajo, Harry Walters, became a curator at the museum in Chinlee, Arizona.  His wife Anna, who was my secretary for a while, became a published author.

Dr. Herman J. Viola is a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. A specialist on the history of the American West, he served as director of the Museum's National Anthropological Archives in addition to organizing two major exhibitions for the Smithsonian. "Magnificent Voyagers" told the story of the United State Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, and "Seeds of Change" examined the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old and the New Worlds as a result of the Christopher Columbus voyages of discovery. Prior to joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution in 1972, he was an archivist at the National Archives of the United States, where he launched and was first editor of Prologue: The Journal of the National Archives.

Dr. Viola's research specialties include the American Indian, the Civil War, and the exploration of the American West. He has authored numerous books on these topics, including Exploring the West, After Columbus, Warrior Artists, Warriors in Uniform,  The North American Indians, and Little Bighorn Remembered: the Untold Indian Story of Custer's Last Stand. He is also the author of the middle school social studies textbook, Why We Remember.

Dr. Viola received his B.A. and M.A. from Marquette University, and his Ph.D. from Indiana University/Bloomington.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Connecting with Landmarks: History of Rose Hill Cemetary (Part 2)

by Dianne Dent Wilcox ( )

(Guest Blogger Dianne Dent Wilcox is an expert on the history of Macon and Central Georgia.  She is currently the Humanities department Chair at Georgia Military College.  She and her family reside in Macon.)

The traditional Rose Hill Rambles, started by Calder Payne, give detailed information about sections of the cemetery. I was never able to attend one of Mr. Payne’s tours, but I have read his information. He seemed to know the families who had members buried here on a personal basis, whereas my knowledge comes from the library. I was able to attend a Ramble sponsored by the local history society and hosted by Jim Barfield. I continue to encourage everyone to go on as many Rambles as possible because each person giving one of these tours does it from a unique perspective. This is an overview of the cemetery, rather than a detailed analysis, so it gives more general information and covers a greater geographic area of the cemetery.

So, in 1805, the Ocmulgee River, was the southwestern boundary of the United States. That means that the Rose Hill Cemetery property was still Native American territory in 1805. That’s why in 1806, the new United States government established Fort Hawkins on the east side of the Ocmulgee River. You can see its watchtower from the cemetery. The best view is from a Masonic pulpit sculpture. Fort Hawkins’ tower is just above the tree line as you follow Emery Highway northeast.  In 1820, the U.S. boundary moved from the Ocmulgee River to the Flint River making the land on which Macon was founded available for settlement. The people living around Fort Hawkins knew that the new land was opening, so they held a meeting to plan the City of Macon. Simri Rose attended that meeting. About twenty years later, citizens of Macon approached Rose and asked him to design the cemetery, which is named in his honor.
Masonic Pulpit Sculpture
Of course, there were people in this area long before the fort, the city and the cemetery. The Ocmulgee National Monument shows that Native Americans were in this area some 12,000 years ago. Later, around 1540 DeSoto’s expedition came through. There’s a historic marker about DeSoto in Central City Park. By the late 1600s, British settlers came to the area, and in 1690, they established a trading post on what are now the grounds of the Ocmulgee National Monument. That trading post operated until 1715 when Native Americans burned it during the Yamasee War.  Then the United States established Fort Hawkins in 1805, and it functioned as a trading post and military outpost before, during and after the War of 1812. Bibb County is chartered in 1822, and Macon is founded in 1823.

That brings us back to 1840 and Rose Hill. Rose Hill Cemetery is one of the oldest landscaped cemeteries in the United States. Simri Rose collected botanical specimens and planned them, by design, in his carefully planned cemetery. Several of the original plantings are visible in the cemetery.

Rose Hill has unusual burials, too. Families invested in their burial sites. Rose Hill has its own Washington Monument, too. It honors the Washington family of Macon for which the Washington Memorial Library is named. The Dunlap Mausoleum is another area favorite. The Dunlap family home is now the superintendent’s residence at the Ocmulgee National Monument. Built in 1857, the Dunlap House was occupied twice by Federal soldiers during the War Between the States. Just to the right of the mausoleum, down low and adjacent to the street is one of Rose Hill’s unusual graves. It’s the grave of Lieutenant Bobby, a little brown dog who was the mascot of Company C of the 121st Infantry of the Georgia National Guard. There’s a picture of Bobby online and an article that says he lived, with his master in the Dempsey Hotel. That’s at the corner of Cherry Street and Third Street. Bobby died at age twelve when he fell down an open elevator shaft.  Some other unusual graves are marked with metal monuments. There of those are a few feet down the hill.

Lt. Bobby


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Honoring our Mothers through History

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

Abigail Adams
For many, Mother's Day is a celebration honoring mothers and the concept of motherhood in society. The celebration of Mother's Day began in the United States in 1908 when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother.  The campaign to create a "Mother's Day" holiday did eventually happen when Woodrow Wilson in 1914, signed a Proclamation creating Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May.  Sadly, the woman responsible for its creation would become bitter at the thought that a simple wish to honor all mothers would be usurped by capitalism and become a huge commercial enterprise. 

Just as the creation and evolution of Mother’s Day is complex, so is the idea of who are the great Mother’s. Is Mother’s Day only for true Mothers? Or, can this day be celebrated for those who may not be a Mother literally, but figuratively? In our homes, we celebrate our Mother. In society, we have a long history of the Republican Motherhood and the Cult of Domesticity.  So, who are some of our great Mothers?

Dolley Madison

Our Founding Mothers
Several years ago, I was able to hear Cokie Roberts speak about her book “Founding Mothers” and ever since I have the greatest respect for the women who did so much to create our country. This elite group includes future first ladies Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison. Martha famously spent the entire long winter at Valley Forge with George, Abigail asked her husband John to “Remember the Ladies,” and Dolley stayed in burning capital while all the men left and was key to saving George Washington’s portrait. Esther DeBerdt Reed wrote “Sentiments of an American Woman” encouraging support of the troops. 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Our Society Mother’s
In society, we have had Mothers who went beyond their traditional role of Mother and pushed to make society a better place.  Early Child Labor activist Mother Jones was a force to be reckoned with, even managing to get the attention and admiration of Theodore Roosevelt.  Suffragists who were mothers at home but managed to help create the Women’s Movement like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Lucy Stone. Early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft pushed society at a time when few women did.  Also, Jane Addams was never a literal Mother, yet her Hull House helped create a safe place for many Mothers.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Our Political Mother’s
In addition to our Founding Mother’s, we do have political Mothers.  Many of these women lived their lives in front of society and at the side of their incredibly powerful husband.  These Political Mothers would include Rose Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Barbara Bush. 

Anna Jarvis
These are just a few of the powerful and great mother’s we have had in our society.  However, we should remember the goal of Anna Jarvis when she created Mother’s Day.  She wrote to President Wilson that Mother’s Day should be a “great Home Day of our country for sons and daughters to honor their mothers and fathers and homes in a way that will perpetuate family ties and give emphasis to true home life.”  So, this is not a day about honoring just any Mother, it should start with your own.  Jarvis was never a Mother, she was a daughter who wanted to honor her Mother, and by extension all Mothers. 

For more information:
Anna Jarvis:
Cokie Roberts Founding Mothers, The Women Who Raised Our Nation