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A Widening Cast of Characters: A Runaway Slave, a Southern Belle, and a Passionate Evangelical

By Michelle Dempsey

Figure 1: The Women of Lindenwald



















For the past couple of weeks, I have been digging into secondary and primary materials related to voting rights and legislation in New York, the lives of northern and southern women in the antebellum period, New York’s place in the early women’s rights movement. I have also done some thorough digging online in the attempt to locate archives related to the women of Lindenwald, especially Angelica Singleton Van Buren, Martin Van Buren’s daughter-in-law, and Christina Cantine, his beloved niece.

Figure 2: My work space varies depending upon the availability of wifi and outlets!























The voting rights material has been super helpful in providing the basis of our voting history overview for fifth graders. Because the Hudson River Valley was home to Dutch-descended families who had built up quite a lot of land and wealth by the mid nineteenth century, Van Buren found himself both legally and politically in the midst of land disputes related to vast tracts of land belonging to families such as the Livingstons and Van Rensselaers and their tenants. Several small uprisings occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries regarding the land charters, and by 1821, various people were calling for a convention to reform the 1777 New York State Constitution, which contained property and freehold requirements for the election of various government and public offices. Some major concerns regarding voting rights in this convention were in relation to property requirements, public/military service, and race. While the 1777 Constitution did not specify the word “white,” the 1821 revision, while lessening the property requirement for white men, required African American freeholders to possess 250 dollars in order to vote, which excluded the vast majority of free blacks in the state.

Figure 3: Title page of report on 1821 New York State Constitutional Convention, courtesy of New York State Library

An interesting figure I encountered in this research was a runaway slave named James F. Brown who fled from Maryland to the Hudson River Valley in the 1820s. He ended up on the Verplanck estate, Mount Gulian, in Fishkill, New York. After starting out as a waiter for the Verplancks, after only ten years Brown had become the estate’s master gardener and head man, earning that privileged and rare status as a middle-class African American man. As such, Brown became quite involved in helping his neighbors maintain the property requirements for voting in the state. He also became an active Whig party supporter, later switching to the Liberty Party which advocated specifically for the abolition of slavery. Much is known about Brown from the diaries he himself kept for much of the rest of his life after reaching the Hudson River Valley. Because diary-keeping meant middle-class respectability in the antebellum period, demonstrating thoughtfulness in business, public, and personal affairs, Brown’s diary, as well as his level of local and regional horticultural success, revealed a man who strove for the uplift of the free black community.

Figure 4: The book Freedom’s Gardener: James F. Brown, Horticulture, and the Hudson Valley in Antebellum America (2012) by Myra Beth Young Armstead traces Brown’s life and journey from slavery to master gardener

Figure 5: Gravestone of James Brown

Figure 6: The gardens at Mount Gulian today, courtesy of

My research into the world of Lindenwald’s women, on the other hand, has thus far been focused on Angelica Singleton Van Buren and Christina Cantine, as I had mentioned before. This focus largely stems from the significance of these two women in Van Buren’s life, as well as the interesting contrast they provide as historical characters. Angelica was born and raised in Sumter County, South Carolina, the daughter of a wealthy planter family. After finishing her education at the elite Madame Grelaud’s French School in Philadelphia, she was shortly thereafter introduced to Martin Van Buren, then president, and his eldest son Abraham, who was then serving as his secretary. This meeting, engineered largely by Angelica’s cousin Dolly Madison, would end in Angelica and Abraham’s marriage, and therefore, Angelica’s place as Van Buren’s de-facto first lady (his wife Hannah having died many years before). Angelica ran the White House, then Lindenwald for a time, but she and Abraham retired to New York City, where Angelica became involved in charity work. I have found a hint that she became interested in women’s rights (at least in relation to property and divorce) after her sister’s experiences with an abusive second husband and loss of property to that man.





While I have yet to find evidence backing that claim about her interest in women’s rights, we are yet hoping to find how Angelica felt adjusting to life in the reform-minded North after growing up in the more patriarchal and slavery-entrenched South.

Figure 7: I got the opportunity to dress as Angelica for a document donation ceremony the other week!

Figure 8: Recreating Angelica’s portrait after the ceremony

Christina Cantine was Van Buren’s niece, the daughter of his wife’s sister (also named Christina). Christina grew up in Ithaca, New York, and, inspired by the evangelical revivalism that swept through the Burned-Over District of New York in the antebellum period, Christina maintained a religious zeal throughout her life. Van Buren had called her “a lady of remarkable intelligence and strength of character, and deeply imbued with religious feeling,” and remarked in his autobiography her passionate antagonism to Indian removal in the 1830s. He recollected her saying to him one night, referencing his support of and political closeness with Andrew Jackson, “Uncle! I must say to you that it is my earnest wish that you may lose the election, as I believe that such a result ought to follow such acts!” What we are hoping to discover over the next couple of months is whether this passion extended beyond indigenous rights to rights for other groups of people. We don’t want to assume that this feeling extended to other reform, especially concerning women, but we are thinking that Christina might, out of the women we know in Van Buren’s life, be the one to perhaps demonstrate some feeling about the condition of women.

Finding Inspiration at WORI Convention Days 2019

By Victoria Elliott

A highlight from the second half of July was the Women’s Rights National Historical Park’s commemoration of the First Women’s Rights Convention. This year’s theme was “Back to Our Roots,” so the majority of the weekend’s events focused on the factors that led to the early women’s rights movement. Every year Women’s Rights National Historical Park celebrates the anniversary of the 1848 First Women’s Rights Convention. This year the celebration took place on the 19th, 20th, and 21st of July. My primary task for convention days was to operate the Information Booth. The weather forecast predicted menacingly hot temperatures, so everyone was briefed on safety in the heat and how to recognize and assist someone suffering from heat stroke. Luckily there were no incidents over the weekend.

I enjoyed working at the Information Booth because I got to meet new people. Some came expressly for Convention Days weekend, while others just happened to be visiting during the commemoration. One interaction that I really valued occurred on the first day of the Convention. A woman stopped by the booth before entering the Visitor Center, and after learning that I was an intern, asked me some really great questions about how my time at the Park has impacted and inspired me. I had the opportunity to ask her questions in return, and we both parted ways with smiles on our faces. Our interaction reminded me that in touring the Park visitors can enter a dynamic relationship with history, affecting the visitor’s perspective on the future and their place within it.



Although I was working the event, I had the opportunity to attend some of the speaker’s talks. On the 19th, I attended Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner’s talk “A Most Important Conversation- Susan Goodier’s presentation “Votes for Women: Why Did it Take So Long?” in the Wesleyan Chapel She discussed the issue of racism within the women’s rights movement following the Civil War and issues of accountability in relation to the past and the present. Dr. Roesch Wagner shared that she considers herself “anti-racist and a recovering racist.” This struck me as a great way of addressing the issues of white privilege. The phrasing acknowledges racism and white privilege while expressing commitment to working against those injustices on personal and public levels.

Working with Collections from the Wright Brothers to a Weather Station

During the last couple weeks, I have been working on several research requests that are sent to my supervisor, Jami, by people associated with National Parks or just interested in learning more information. I looked through various collections in the archives and relayed the information that I found. Some of the collections that I referenced include the Hatteras Weather Bureau Station, Wright Brothers National Memorial, NC-12 Renourishment Programs, and the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.

These past couple weeks, I also aided my supervisor in installing an exhibit for the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing event at Wright Brothers National Memorial. The exhibit included various First Flight Society Aviation Hall of Fame inductee portraits, a plaque describing the event of Neil Armstrong bringing pieces of the 1903 Wright flyer to the moon and back to Kitty Hawk, and molds that were used to make the gloves for astronauts. After the event, we then had to take the exhibits down, as First Flight Society members then picked up all the portraits from the Museum Resource Center to transport them to be displayed elsewhere.

Figure 1: Transporting Portraits from the Museum Resource Center


Alejandro’s Visit to Chamizal National Memorial

By Juan Davila

This week was very interesting and insightful to the process of museum work. Alejandro an Archivist from WACC came to the Chamizal National Memorial and guided us in the process for the creation of a Scope of Collections.  Me and my partner from LHIP learned a lot from Alejandro’s knowledge and tears of experience from working on the NPS. The previous week we focused on finding all-important non-accessioned items and the accessioned items we wanted to present to Alejandro hoping he would instruct us as to how to archive them and properly maintain them.

Figure 1: Meeting Alejandro

As mentioned before last week we went off site to the warehouse and searched for artifacts, documents, or objects that were in need of moving to proper maintaining facilities. In which they could be properly stored but also to see what things they had in the warehouse because the staff was not aware of so many objects being stored in site. Many of the objects inside the warehouse are not properly preserved or have the proper documentation. The warehouse has been the last station where the museum has stored most of the objects and it had no current purpose for the last 10 years. Here, I found many objects, ranging from old films and cassette tapes to a motorized chainsaw and even some pamphlets from a rock concert celebrated in 2000 at the Chamizal Park. Thanks to this search, we realized the paintings were not properly stationed in the room.  We ordered packets so that we could raise all the paintings in proper prevention from flooding.

After Alejandro’s visit, he concluded that we needed to finish our document describing all non-accessioned items. The document would help us better understand what objects we have in our collection and the best way to separate and catalog the different collections. It was decided that all picture frames, art and films would be sent to WACC so that they would be in a better-preserved environment. Alejandro promised he would send us box containers to store all the films and art.  He also promised that later in the summer, he would come pick them up. I continued working on the non-accessioned document the following week and organized all film we had pertaining to their years.

Figure 2: So many objects being stored on site!



Working on a Display Dedicated to the Robinson House

By Kevin Roberts

It’s been a couple of weeks since the first blog post, and I can say with complete confidence that I still have no idea what I’m doing.

I’ve been working at the Lincoln Home site for over a month now, but honestly it feels like I just got here. I can honestly say that I look forward to coming to work every day, and a large part of that is because everyone who works here is so friendly. From my supervisors to the Interp. and maintenance staffs and everyone in-between.

Over the past two weeks, I have continued to clean and organize artifacts housed in storage. Artifacts from the restoration of 18 buildings are housed in storage, and I have successfully worked through two (slow and steady wins the race, right?).

The process of working through a single building’s artifacts is more tedious than I thought it would be. It involves digging through the entire storage building to find every artifact associated with the house I am focusing on. Then, I must clean every artifact, write down detailed descriptions and give each artifact a catalog number. Finally, after finding a dedicated space in the storage building to place the artifacts, I must enter the information I wrote down into the online database. At this point, I’ve found a sort of rhythm when it comes to this process, so I’ve come to rather enjoy it.

Figure 1: An electric lighting fixture from the Robinson House

My supervisor, Susan, and I have also started a side project of putting together a display dedicated to the Robinson House. The Robinson House, which belonged to a Springfield businessman and civic leader named Henson Robinson, was built around 1859-60.

My first task for this project was to compile a list of the artifacts we could possibly use. The space we have available for the display is not large, so we are limited to some of the smaller artifacts. These include wallpaper samples, a lighting fixture, and some other decorative pieces. Our next step will be to decide on a theme for the display and create a sort of storyline with the artifacts.

Figure 2: Antenna Abe

When I’m working in the Carriage House (i.e. the storage building), I can be alone for hours on end. Thankfully, I have Antenna Abe to keep me company. He was created by a previous intern. He’s not the most talkative, but he doesn’t complain about the music or podcasts I listen to, so it could be worse.

I also managed to take the time to drive down to O’Fallon, Illinois where my grad school advisor, Dr. Susan Alt, was having her summer field school. The site she was excavating was in the middle of a corn field (pretty common in the Midwest).

They were about three weeks into the dig by the time I visited and had uncovered several house and pit features. Early interpretations of the site seem to lean towards the area having been home to a family over several generations. Dr. Alt hopes that the site will give insight into how Mississippian family life changed throughout the rise and fall of the Mississippian culture period.

Figure 3: Photo of the site (It was about to storm, andI was in a hurry, so not the best quality).



A Mix of Experience at Minute Man National Historical Park

By Kevin Roberts

Hey folks,

Sorry I’ve been sparse in my blog postings, I’ve been quite busy in my job at Minute Man. It’s good work that I’ve sincerely enjoyed, but it is quite dense work. I’ve been frontline since my training ended, and to be honest this is my first real deal 9-5 job. Between running multimedia presentations, training in period firearms, and authoring my own set of ranger talks, I have been neglecting this old blog. Without further ado, here is a kitten on a leash.

Figure 1: His name is Mimsy. Big thanks to my co-worker Liz for bringing him to the park when I was at Minuteman visitor center.

I’ve been settling into my digs at minuteman quite well. While the honeymoon and giddiness of the first couple weeks have cooled down into a routine, it lets me get a better understanding of what life will be like working park service.


It can get pretty varied at MIMA, and my usual work week involves a day in colonial garb in the Hartwell Tavern, followed by a day on the North Bridge, and the rest filled with time at minuteman.

The tentpost of a Hartwell tavern visit is one of our weapon demonstrations, where a ranger puts two blanks down range through a reproduction land pattern “Brown Bess” Musket. I’ve actually been training in the 1764 Manual of arms, which is the same drill used by both the British regulars and the colonial militia on April 19th, 1775. I’ll give a link to a pictorial guide here, but the idea is to get a large body of soldiers reloaded and firing in the same 15-20 second interval. I’m nowhere near that point yet, but I’m hoping to get my historic firearms certification soon.

Figure 2: Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

The next day will often be a day at Minute Man visitor center, which is where I spend the Lion’s share of my time at MIMA. The big draw here is a 25-minute short film with immersive side features, like a light-up matte painting of the old Boston skyline or the North Church. My contribution is mostly providing directions and organizing large groups of visitors to make sure things aren’t horrifically gummed up. Usually I am the guy who runs into the theater and pushes the button to get the show moving.

Figure 3: Picture of Minuteman in its olden days (you can tell because its Samuel Adams on the plinth, and not Peter Salem) source

The North Bridge is probably my favorite post at MIMA. It’s a nice shady spot with a lot to talk about and do the pointing ranger thing (just look up the facebook group “rangers pointing at things,” it is a well documented phenomena) I especially like giving ranger talks, which are semi-formal lectures in which a ranger (or in my case, ranger-adjacent) interpreter will regale viewers with their own research in a talk that ranges from 20-40 minutes in length, based on viewer engagement. I like to think I give a mean North Bridge talk, and I think I take guests a little off-guard with my really personable and semi-informal presentation style. The facts are all there, but the big lesson I learned at my last job at the House of the Seven Gables is that a lecture with no visitor rapport is forgotten by the doorstep. I don’t think people come to a hallowed historic site and expect to learn by laughing at a goofball in a boonie hat, but I’ve had repeat visitors remember me and come out to visit Ranger Roberts (as an aside, that has a heck of a ring to it.)


I’m enjoying my time here so much that I was a little shocked that when I filled my timesheet, I saw my end date is a mere month away! I knew I was in trouble when a visitor asked me how long I’ve been here, to which gave the usual answer “I’ve been here since May,” and I noticed people have stopped snickering when I said that.

The Busy Saint-Gaudens’ Swing of Things

By Zoe Levine

Figure 1: The Busy Saint-Gaudens’ Swing of Things

At the beginning of my internship, I didn’t really know what to expect. As the month of June went by, it became more apparent to me what it really means to be part of the National Park Service in Cultural Resources. Although many people do not think of the NPS as being focused on preserving the history of a site at first, it is one of the integral parts of interpretation of the NPS. I truly love how passionate all of the staff at Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park are about their job and connecting to and learning from the other departments that work here. This has given me the ability to think more about my future and what it would look like within the National Park Service. I can honestly say I can imagine myself working in the National Park Service in the future, especially in Cultural Resources!


One of the things I have really appreciated is how much the Park Service has done to make sure that the interns here connect to one another. Because of how close Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is to Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park, we are able to go to the other park and meet other workers and interns there. Although I have been mostly completing work in galleries, the historic home, Aspet, or in the curatorial building itself, I still have had the opportunity to do things I wouldn’t have been able to do normally in my department. This has included attending leadership sessions with the other Interns. For one of these sessions we were able to hike up Mt. Tom (at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller) which I do not get to do on an every day basis as a Curatorial Intern! I felt so accomplished by being able to hike up and see the Vermont countryside and made me appreciate the work I am doing this summer even more.

Figure 2: Standing a Top Mount Tom and Waxing the Shaw Memorial

Another amazing thing I have been able to experience through this internship is being able to learn how to clean and wax bronze reliefs and sculptures. In my last blog post, I was learning and working on small bronze reliefs, but as the summer progressed, I was able to clean and wax one of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ famous bronze sculptures, The Shaw Memorial. Being able to work on a skill I have wanted to develop since the beginning of the summer was awesome. Preservation of art is so meaningful to historians because it allows the idealism and culture of generations in the past to be interpreted and understood in a modern context, while also analyzing what it meant in the past. That is the number one reason that learning preservation skills is so necessary to me. Being able to maintain this art for the future is an incredible experience I would not want to change.


As July came, everything started to pick up even more. With more visitors coming to the park as the summer progressed, there were more things we needed to do in Cultural Resources, including cleaning the spaces that visitors go into. Dusting and vacuuming may not be the most glamorous job ever, but it allows visitors to have the best experience at the park possible, and allows for the history to really be seen by visitors.


I also got to experience something else I have been looking forward to accomplishing this summer: working on developing exhibits! The other interns and I began to work on our very own exhibit for the Visitor’s Center, but that got put on hold when we were asked to help put together the Curators’ exhibit he had been working on about Augusta Saint-Gaudens (the wife of artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens). Augusta Saint-Gaudens was a woman who held her own, having her own paintings and experiences. Being able to help out with an exhibit that highlights her in this way made me happy. Also, with the exhibit opening in a week, I really was able to see what work was needed to be put into getting an exhibit ready for the public. I learned how to hang paintings in a gallery space and placing objects into exhibit cases (and all the math that it includes!). I also was able to learn how to mount art into a frame and also how to make and mount exhibit labels. Another thing that made me feel accomplished was helping get some of the heavier objects into the gallery space, including two historic trunks that had never been on exhibit before.

Figure 3: Mapping out where Art Should Hang & One of the Exhibit Cases

Once we finished the exhibit, we all felt so accomplished. Everything I have been able to complete so far in this internship has allowed me to develop skills and experiences I am so proud of. It is hard to believe that my internship is over halfway over at this point, but I am very excited to see what else there is in store for me. I am so thankful for this opportunity and will be forever grateful for the work I have been able to participate in.

Figure 4: The finished Augusta Exhibit

Figure 5: Sneak peek at some of my research!





Researching the First Women’s Rights Convention

By Victoria Elliott

I’m grateful to have begun my CDRIP internship!

Figure 1: The Declaration Water Wall (pre-watering)

I spent my first week at Women’s Rights National Historical Park establishing the why, when, where, and who of the First Women’s Rights Convention. I began by researching the history of Seneca Falls following the American Revolution. I learned about the effect that the Seneca River, the implementation of the canal, and the railroad had on the prosperity and development of the town. If the Erie Canal hadn’t been built, Seneca Falls had the potential to become a city as large as Buffalo or Syracuse!

I also investigated the importance of religion and religious revivals in New York. The region underwent waves of religious change, inventions, and was filled with so much religious “fire” in the Second Great Awakening that central and western New York came to be known as the Burned-over district. Greater importance was placed on the individual’s responsibility to promote public welfare. At the same time, the industrial revolution and the middle class were both developing.

Figure 2: Notice of the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention published in the Seneca County Courier on July 11, 1848

These conditions (along with many, many others) caused the First Women’s Rights Convention on July 19th and 20th, 1848 to occur when and where it did.

Since the close of my first week I’ve been researching the importance of the abolitionist movement and its relationship to the women’s rights movement, Seneca County’s specific links to the Underground Railroad, and African American abolition and women’s rights activists.

In the coming weeks I look forward to continuing my investigation of the early women’s rights movement in both its achievements and its failings.


Recent Events at Cape Hatteras

By Clara Chang

These past couple weeks I have been organizing the files on the Cape Hatteras Weather Bureau and aided my supervisor, Jami Lanier, with cataloging and labeling the boxes and files for storage in the archives.

I have also been aiding Jami with research requests and scanning/digitizing photos for researcher, Wayne Gray. Also regarding photos, I have been converting slides from both the Verde Watson photo collection and the Lost Colony photo collection, using a new slide converter. This way, these photos from past years of the Lost Colony play at Fort Raleigh and the 1950s-60s photos by past Park Naturalist, Verde Watson, can be digitized and shared more easily throughout NPS.


Figure 1: Scanning, Digitizing, Cataloguing and More!

Jami and I have also dedicated many hours to the 20th Anniversary of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Move event happening on Monday, July 1st. We spent a day this week setting up the artifacts and exhibits for display at the event, and attending meetings discussing many other logistics for the event.

Jami and I have also started a new photo project called “Then and Now” where we place an older photo against the modern-day background in an attempt to display the changes that have been made to the land and structures over time. We did editions for Bodie Island and Fort Raleigh these past couple weeks.


Figure 2: Many hours were dedicated to the 20th Anniversary of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse move


Tales from the Mississippi River

Tales from the Mississippi River

By: Konner Magnuson and Andy Lisak

Trempealeau NWR

After a two-day journey from Fort Collins, Colorado we arrived at Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. Nestled in the bluffs of the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin, this 6,446-acre refuge was established in the 1930s by FDR to serve as a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. This refuge also features many unique habitats such as rolling sand prairies, bottomland forests, and wetlands.

The main draw to this refuge is the migration of waterfowl such as trumpeter and tundra swans. Several visitors pointed out that during the peak swan migration there can be thousands of swans hanging out on the river before moving on to their wintering grounds. Even though it wasn’t “swam season,” there were plenty of locals who visited the refuge every day to walk their dogs or take a peaceful bike ride through the many habitats this refuge had to offer. We often think of refuges as a place for wildlife to escape to, but the locals’ love of this refuge shows that people need their public lands as well.

Sampling at this refuge was a challenge for several reasons. Prior to our arrival, the entrance road to the refuge was closed for an extended period due to flooding from the Mississippi River. The weather was uncooperative for us as well, as we were fighting against low temperatures and rain during most of our sampling shifts. However, we were still happy to have the chance to be outside and see the beautiful scenery.

Kieps Dike at Trempealeau NWR. May 2019. Photo by Andy Lisak.

Konner (left) and Andy (right) arrive at Trempealeau NWR. May 2019.

Upper Mississippi River NWR – Savanna District

After spending only five days at Trempealeau, we made the trek to the Savannah district of the Upper Mississippi River NWR in northwestern Illinois. The Savannah district is the southernmost district of the refuge, but we quickly realized that there is more to this district than just the river. This district houses the old Savanna Army Depot, which was used as a test firing site for artillery in the early 1900s, and was a storage and recycling site for ammunition until 2000. This portion of the refuge is also home to the largest remnant sand prairie in the state of Illinois and home to over 40 endangered and threatened plant and animal species.

Before coming to this refuge, we always thought of wildlife refuges as a place solely for wildlife, but we quickly realized that there are many recreational opportunities for hunters and anglers as well. Many of the anglers we encountered on the river travel from all over to use one of the lakes on the refuge and on several occasions they stated that this refuge is one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the United States. This makes it a hot spot for both professional and amateur fishing tournaments.

Much like Trempealeau NWR and everywhere else on the upper Mississippi River, this refuge was dealing with flooding, which made sampling tricky for us. When we arrived the flooding had subsided somewhat and did not hinder our ability to snag visitors, but by the end of our sampling period the Mississippi River had flooded up into one of our most popular sampling locations, making one of the main areas anglers use inaccessible. This refuge also has many access points which meant we needed to be more proactive when trying to sample and we found ourselves splitting up between different locations in hopes of hitting our numbers. If we were surveying the gnat population of this refuge, we would have been done sampling the minute we got there!

Anglers weighing their catch at the Savanna district. May 2019. Photo by Konner Magnuson.

Upper Mississippi River NWR – McGregor District

Just a short drive upriver from Savanna, we entered the Driftless Area, which is not a knockoff of the Twilight Zone, but rather a whole region that was void of glaciers during the last glacial period. This resulted in rolling bluffs on either side of the gently meandering Mississippi. After a short but steep drive into the bluffs, we set up camp at Wyalusing State Park. We found an incredible scenic overlook at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers, and stayed to watch the sunset over the bluffs on the far side of the river. On the refuge, our high-water problems appeared to have followed us up from Savanna as only a handful of boat ramps were still open, and most were completely flooded out. In a testament to the dedication of some visitors (a.k.a. obsessed anglers) a few flooded ramps still had trailers parked nearby where courageous boaters had braved the shallows to launch… sometimes in what was essentially the middle of a road! Farther up the river, however, things got a little better. In Lansing, Iowa, a newly refurbished boat launch attracted all the boaters who couldn’t launch elsewhere.

Sunset over the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers. June 2019. Photo by Andy Lisak.

While the long drives took their toll during the slower weekdays, we sought our own refuge back at camp by relaxing for hours in our hammocks or exploring the forested trails around the bluffs. On the weekends, however, beautiful weather and a series of fishing tournaments filled boat launch parking lots and gave us the wonderful opportunity to talk to friendly anglers from across the region as they pulled in and waited to weigh their catches. After packing up camp at the end of our two weeks, we left for La Crosse, optimistic for sunny weather and happy boaters to survey.

Konner crosses a log bridge while hiking at Wyalusing State Park. June 2019. Photo by Andy Lisak.

Upper Mississippi River NWR – La Crosse District

Just a short drive up river, we arrived in La Crosse ready for a few days off from surveying while we took the Motorboat Operation Certification Course (MOCC). During our first three days in La Crosse, we learned how to tie knots, motorboat operations, boating maintenance, navigation, and regulations, how to tie knots again, and then we were finally able to get out on the water and get some experience behind the wheel (or tiller). After learning the ins and outs of boat driving and getting a feel for the handling of several different kinds of boats, we both passed the final exam with flying colors. We are proud to say that we’ve done what Spongebob never could and graduated from boating school! After completing MOCC, however, the weather once again turned against us and rainy days kept visitors off of the boat ramps.

So far we have been enjoying our visitor survey adventure, and can’t wait to share more with you as we travel southeast.

Racing to the Deadline

By Madisyn Rostro

Imagine having a whole picture gallery to fill objects within one week. That includes deciding what objects fit best in the space, are observable, creating labels for the objects, moving them from one building to the other, and hanging everything up and making sure it looks good in its spot. It’s a lot of pressure to get it done in one week, but the reward of getting people to see the exhibit is worth all of the stress. Especially going to the exhibit opening and seeing what people think about what we have done with the space. I have enjoyed hearing their comments about how beautiful the dress is and how well the exhibit has come together. I am beyond proud of how it turned out and I could not have done it without the help of the other curatorial staff.

These past two weeks have flown by a lot faster than I initially thought they would. The curatorial team has been busy working on several different projects and making sure they are done to the best of our abilities. Something new that I have learned is how to set up an exhibit and how to showcase it so that visitors will be interested in what they’re seeing. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the interpretation staff can also incorporate the information and to make connections for the visitors that our park gets throughout the season.

The curatorial team kept themselves busy getting an exhibit ready to be on view. We had a deadline of July 20th that was all in the back of our minds, but as Monday hit, we realized how fast we needed to work on this project. It first started with having the curator; Henry Duffy get the objects that he wanted to use for his exhibition out on a table. That way we can arrange them in a way that the viewer will find interesting and that they will be able to make connections. This step I feel like is the hardest due to the amount of time that we spend looking at different options on how to put everything together. Once we are all satisfied with an idea then we begin to form the label which explains the object itself. Creating the label in such a short time frame can be a bit of a task. Mainly because we must be careful not to smudge the ink on the paper and to cut the mat board with a beveled edge. We had several trial and errors trying to get the bevel just right and to make sure that there were no crinkles in the paper or making sure the mat board corners weren’t dented. The next step is hanging everything up in the gallery space and making sure that it looks good with the other objects. Sometimes when you hang things up on the wall you want to make sure that everything is proportioned.

After we completed all those steps, we did a few little tasks like cleaning the plexiglass for the cases, putting “Please Do Not Touch” signs on the objects stands for the chairs and the dress. We also cleaned the floors to ensure a clearer viewing. One of the last finishes was putting a bouquet in the entryway to add a little something extra for the visitors that come in. After completing this exhibit, I hope that the viewer will gain a deeper inside on who Augusta Saint-Gaudens was. I hope that they understand and appreciate how independent she became as her marriage wasn’t always the best. And that she enjoyed every bit of her life as she possibly could whether that be going out of the country and exploring or painting about her experiences that she was seeing while being away from Cornish.



A Workshop Field Trip

By Maeliz Colon

I had a wonderful opportunity to accompany the workshop for the National Endowment for the Humanities. There were teachers from all over the country participating in this week long workshop; most of them were history and social studies teachers. The overall objective for them was to work on a source set inquiry based lesson plan. I joined them on Monday, July 8th. I was ultimately there with them to represent the armory, as well as, bring my own knowledge and experience to the hypothetical table. The week was full of field trips, lectures, and lots of discussions. I have so many photos of all the interesting things I got to see and can go on and on about all the notes I took, but honestly it was so rewarding to spend time with those teachers and help them find primary and secondary sources from the collection at SPAR. The focus of the workshop was ultimately on New England history (mostly Massachusetts) and the development of the industry, I was able to learn a lot about Springfield and the neighboring areas.

We actually finished the week with a visit to the Springfield Art Museum and the neighboring museums. We were able to see the evolution of the paintings and the stories behind them. Interestingly enough, this was helpful for the teachers as well because pictures are considered primary sources as well and it aids with the understanding of interpretation. We also received a presentation/ lecture from Cassie Brown author of Rosie’s Mom: Forgotten Women Workers of the First World War. Which provided insight to a time period for women that isn’t discussed that too often.

On Wednesday July 10th we went over to where the SPAR watershops used to be and then took a trip to Old Sturbridge Village. We received a lecture from a University of Connecticut professor on currency and what type of social behaviors were associated to currency in the 1830s. Also taking a tour of the grounds was engaging and helps put the technology of the time in perspective; that these people were people and lived in circumstances that seem so alien in the modern day. The village contained tools and some people along the facilities were using the tools as they would in the 1830s.

I also chose to focus on a few days of my trip as opposed to the entire week, because I would be repeating the process with a new group of teachers. Nonetheless, the entire workshop was refreshing and I was able to get a different perspective from teachers and just lesson planning all together. I know that teaching and sharing information is an important part of raising awareness of resources and simply effectively conveying a historical story; being a part of this type of workshop is giving me a lot of exposure to a variety of themes and topics.

The photos I took are in no particular order:

Figure 1: A Visit to the Springfield Art Museum

Figure 2: The Early 20th Century American Gallery

Figure 3: A Vast Audience Experience a Perspective Rarely Seen

Figure 4: The Old Sturbridge Village

Figure 5: Tools of the 1830s

Figure 6: Closing out the Workshop Week with Teachers




Lincoln Home Blog

By Christian Rice

I’ve continued over the past two weeks to work with the artifacts in storage, and I’ve managed to complete the cataloging of another home. The Sprigg House was purchased by a widow, Mrs. Julia Sprigg, in 1853. Mrs. Sprigg became close friends with Mary Lincoln over the years, and Sprigg’s daughter once cared for the Lincoln’s sons.

Currently, I am working on artifacts from the Dean House. This house came to be named after its occupants Mrs. Harriet Dean and her husband Frederick, who purchased the home in 1849. Today, visitors to the site can tour through the Dean house as well as the garden established behind the home.

Figure 1: The Harriet Dean House

Another project I’ve been working on over the past few weeks has been to put together a new display for the Arnold House. In the house, there is a standing display that is themed “Left Behind,” in which items found during the archaeological digs and reconstructions are shown. Previously, the display was filled with items connected to the Morse House. Our goal was to replace the artifacts with some from the Robinson House.

Figure 2: The Heirloom Garden Located behind the Dean House








My main task within this project was to do background research for each of the artifacts that we used in the display in order to write descriptions for the information cards. The research involved a lot of searching for and deciphering of Maker’s Marks, materials used, and other identifying traits. This was my first time doing anything curator-like, and it was a process that I found I rather enjoyed.

This past week, I also completed part of my volunteer service project. I spent time at a local elementary school, where they host a day camp throughout the summer for kids in the community. Specifically, I helped with the Backpack Feeding program. The goal of this program is to send each child home on the weekends with a bag of various food items to ensure they have access to nutritious meals. It was a really great experience, and I enjoyed meeting new people and getting involved more in the community here in Springfield.

Figure 3: The new “Left Behind” display
featuring items from around the
Robinson House.

Conducting an Annual Inventory

By Juan Davila

In this past week, we have worked solely on the Annual inventory of CHAM. Our team leader, Mark Calamia, asked for the help of Rodney Souter a conservator in Chamizal to help us on the process and teach us along the way. After a meeting and being briefed on what encompasses an Annual inventory and the 3 parts that separate the workload. The Annual Inventory is done every year, although I was told before it was done every 3 years in the NPS. It consists of three lists: Controlled Items,
Randomized Items and Accessioned items.

Once we had been briefed and given a reminder for how to handle and take care of the possible items we would find, we headed over to the vault and moved out all the big objects so that we could walk with ease. Along with my team, we prepared our cotton gloves and started to look for the items.  Controlled inventory was fast, since ICMS picked only paintings, and they were easy to find in the racks.

The randomized inventory was a whole other adventure that took us two days to complete. The items were stored in several locations and somewhere on the warehouse that I had mentioned in my previous blog. My team was very grateful that we had taken time in the summer to organize the warehouse because if not the random object would have been an even bigger task. We found many interesting objects, including a ring from U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. LBJ’s daughter gifted the ring to Chamizal because she felt it would honor her father and wanted it to be exposed in an exhibit of the Memorial. I also found correspondence between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Mexican President Lopez Mateos concerning the treaty of Chamizal and the conversation that followed between Lopez Mateos and Lyndon B. Johnson after Kennedy’s assassination.

Figure 1: Working with my team at CHAM

After we finished the randomized  items list, we passed over to the non-accessioned items. This list was a headache because they had been wrongfully registered in the past. Instead of archival collections, each page or flyer was cataloged as its own item. To make it worst most items had inconsistent descriptions and we discovered many had the description of a different object. Most of the items were flyers or pamphlets from recitals or pianos. I got to see several flyers from the early 60’s promoting black face plays. This was shocking to me, I had read and seen them in class but once I saw the art in the posters, I could comprehend how atrocious those plays were. This week was a great learning experience. I gained valuable skills and knowledge from my peers and had a lot of fun finding objects in the vault.  I never expected I would find random pamphlets and signed documents from presidents.

Figure 2: Discovering Pamphlets and Documents from Signed Presidents

To The Women of New England: Internship Update and the Women who Made the Bunker Hill Monument Possible.

By Hannah Marcel

As summer rolls on here at Boston National Historical Park, so do the opportunities for learning! Work has continued on the annual inventory of the park and we have recently been focused on tracking down items on the accession inventory. This involved referencing the accession paperwork and previous inventories to gain context on the artifacts that we are locating. I have also been given the opportunity to participate in the examination of artifacts that have been sent to the park for potential accession. These projects have allowed me to gain a better understanding of the National Park Service accession process. I also participated in the housekeeping of artifact storage spaces, which included dusting, wiping down surfaces, vacuuming floors and shelf covers, and ensuring that the space is clean overall.


The recent project that I am most excited for, however, is the creation of a new exhibit panel to be displayed in the Bunker Hill Museum. This process started out with research to better understand the subject of the exhibit panel, two timbers from the apparatus used to build the first 37 feet of the Bunker Hill Monument. This allowed us to identify key points to share with the public when creating the exhibit panel. A lot goes in to exhibit creation that many people do not think about, including ADA accessibility. Participating in this process has allowed me to learn more about the guidelines that go into making exhibit panels that are not just engaging and informative, but accessible to as many visitors as possible.


Researching for this exhibit panel forced me to think critically about what went into the construction of the monument, whose height and obelisk shape was the first of its kind. (The Washington Monument would not be completed until 1848). The cornerstone of the monument was laid by Marquis De Lafayette in 1825, and the entire structure was completed in 1842. To get every Quincy granite block into place required clever design and meticulous equipment. Not only was the construction itself a feat of architecture, but so was the organization that went into funding the monument. I was able to reflect on this as I made the climb to the top, yes all 294 stairs! Even though I have made this climb a few times as a child, I had been putting it off for most of my visit. You tell me who really wants to climb 294 stairs, roughly 18 flights, in the middle of summer! Despite my reluctance, this felt like the right time to go, having researched the massive effort that went into this structures creation. The view of Boston from the top of the monument, almost made the climb worth it! So many people came together, including women, to make that monument possible.

Figure 1: Photo of me at the base of the Bunker Hill Monument

Figure 2: Zoomed in view of the Charlestown Navy Yard from the top of the Monument, on the left is the USS Cassin Young and on the right is the USS Constitution
















Dive Deeper:

What struck me the most was the role that everyone in New England, and beyond, played in the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument. This included the efforts of women and children across the region who banded together to raise the funds necessary for the project. So how did it all come to be?


Before there was the 221-foot tall obelisk commemorating the Battle of Bunker Hill, there was a monument honoring fallen patriot and Freemason Dr. Joseph Warren. Despite his status as a general, Dr. Warren insisted on fighting as a private during the battle because he believed other generals present had more experience, resulting in his death. In 1794, a group of Freemasons decided to build a memorial for their fellow Freemason, a replica of which sits in the bottom of the monument today. Despite this, citizens of New England felt that more should be done to honor those that had fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill. In 1823, the Bunker Hill Monument Association was formed to create a more substantial monument on the battlefield. Funding this memorial would prove to be a challenge, halting construction twice and forcing the Bunker Hill Monument Association to sell off a large portion of the battlefield to fund the project. This would not be enough however, leading a couple of wealthy donors and the women of New England to step up and fund the project.

Figure 3: Replica of the original monument to Dr. Warren & Statue of Dr. Warren located in the Bunker Hill Lodge

Motivation for the women of New England to raise these funds came from Sarah J. Hale, the influential editor of the magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book. Hale wrote Bunker Hill Monument Association asking if she could utilize her position to motivate the women of New England to raise the funds. Some felt that the women would be overstepping their position and would likely take the money from their husbands who had already donated anyway. Despite these criticisms, the association voted in favor of Hale’s offer. Women and children from all over New England donated funds and hand crafted objects to be sold at the week long Ladies Fair to fundraise. In total, Hale’s efforts raised over $30,000 for the monument, joining the contributions of Amos Lawrence and Judah Touro, who each donated $10,000.

Figure 4:
The exhibit panel in the Bunker Hill Museum discussing Sarah J. Hale. On display is a book of subscriptions received for the monument, a copper medal from the Ladies Fair, and a doll. In the exhibit is also a copy of Sarah J Hale’s original plea beginning with the words “To the women of New England”


Wall Text, Founder and Fairs, Bunker Hill Monument Museum, Charlestown, Boston Massachusetts.


“Bunker Hill Monument.” National Parks Service. Accessed July 19, 2019.


“The History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association during the First Century of the United States of America : Warren, George Washington, 1813-1883 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming.” Internet Archive, Boston : J. R. Osgood, 1 Jan. 1877,

(Note: There is a copy of “The History of the Bunker Hill Monument Association during the First Century of the United States of America” in  the Boston National Historical Park collection however I chose to use a digital copy from the Library of Congress Archives to avoid having to add wear to the book)




Discovering Women’s Suffrage Specific to Missouri

By Elizabeth Eikmann

Weeks 2 and 3 were filled with visits to the archive, with a few more visits to the archive, and ending with a visit to the archive! I spent the majority of the past few weeks diving into women’s suffrage related ephemera–images, objects, and papers.

My first archive visit was to the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. The building was constructed in 1926 and was home to one of the largest Jewish synagogues in the nation for 62 years. In 1989, MHS purchased the building, renovating it to house their collections and archives. For more on the history of the building and to see a selection of historic images visit their website here.

Here are some images of the building I took while researching there:

Figure 1: Missouri History Museum Library

Figure: Beautiful Ceiling of Missouri History Museum Library

While at the Missouri History Museum Library and Research center, I explored the papers of the Couzin’s family–a nineteenth century St. Louis family with multiple family women involved in local and national suffrage activities. I reviewed the Civil War Claims books of Francis Minor, husband of suffragist Virginia Minor. I also sifted through what seems like hundreds of letters, pamphlets, and images related to suffrage.

Figure 3: Exploring the Papers of the Couzin’s family

Figure 4: St. Louis Public Library

Next I visited the St. Louis Public Library Central Branch, the first public library built in the city in 1865. The original building still houses the library and all of its archival collections. Though small, their women’s suffrage newspaper clippings and ephemera proved to be a mighty selection with some wonderful references and resources.


Here is a bird’s eye view of just a fraction of everything I uncovered the past two weeks:

Figure 5: Image of images!

Figure 6: Just a fraction of what I uncovered at the Library

…Now, back to work!

Figure 7: My work space






Boston National Historical Park: Blog Post 2

By Hannah Marcel

The past two weeks I have continued to work with the Museum Technician on various projects. This included some important housekeeping of our office space to keep things running smoothly. I have also continued to familiarize myself with the history, cultural significance, and goals of the Boston National Historical Park by reading assigned preservation materials. Site visits across Massachusetts are another important aspect of my internship. Exploring historical sites around the region provides necessary historical context to the objects in the collection. The visits also provide an opportunity to learn how my peers in the park service and at partner sites are operating. Below are pictures from a visit to the Boston Harbor Islands, specifically Georges Island. While on the island, we were able to explore Fort Warren, a civil war era fort located in Boston Harbor. The visit also gave me a new perspective on Boston Harbor, as Georges Island sits on the Narrows, the only way for larger ships to safely enter the harbor.

Figure 1: A visit to the Boston Harbor Shore Islands, specifically Georges Island

I have also continued work on the Boston National Historical Park annual inventory. Many of the artifacts in the inventory are from the USS Cassin Young, including many that are still on board. To further understand the significance of the ship to the Navy Yard, as well as preservation goals, I read the USS Cassin Young Historic Furnishings Report. I also took a ranger guided tour of the ship to familiarize myself with the history and layout before we boarded to take inventory.

Figure 2: I am working closely with the history of the USS Cassin Young

Dive Deeper: USS Cassin Young

As World War II raged on in Europe and the Pacific, naval shipyards across America began rapidly building a new class of ships. In total, 175 of these Fletcher-class destroyers would be commissioned, including the USS Cassin Young.  These ships were designed for increased speed while still being able to perform all of the important tasks of a destroyer.

The USS Cassin Young, was built in California and commissioned on December 31, 1943. From there the ship was sent to the Pacific to participate in the naval offensive against Japan, participating in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. One of the biggest threats that the USS Cassin Young faced during World War II was kamikaze pilots, often using anti aircraft machinery to shoot the attacking planes out of the sky. Ultimately, the USS Cassin Young would be the victim of two kamikaze attacks, the second sending her back to the United States. The ship returned to California for repairs, before being decommissioned on May 28th, 1946, and placed on reserve.

Figure 3: USS Cassin Young went to the pacific and it had a great threat, Kamikaze pilots

The USS Cassin Young would remain on reserve until the outbreak of the Korean Conflict, being recommissioned on September 7th, 1951. The ship served in the Atlantic and Mediterranean until returning in 1952 for a massive overhaul. This overhaul occurred at the Navy Yard, her first connection with this location, and would return five more times for repairs between 1955 and 1959. The USS Cassin Young was again decommissioned on April 29th 1960.


Now the USS Cassin Young sits in the Charlestown Navy Yard, giving visitors a glimpse into what life may have been like on board. The Navy Yard participated in the construction of many of these Fletcher-class ships. Many more, including the USS Cassin Young, were brought here for repairs. The USS Cassin Young showcases the role that the Navy Yard played in the Second World War and beyond. It serves to emphasize the industrial nature of the location.

To learn more about the Cassin Young, you can visit the Boston National Historical Park website at For an interactive exploration of life aboard the ship, including interviews and photographs, you can visit


Kickoff to my Internship at Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

By Michelle Dempsey

Figure 1: Lindenwald, built c. 1790, occupied by Martin Van Buren 1839 – 1862

I would like to start off this first blog post emphasizing how lucky I am to be interning at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. Not only is the home, Lindenwald, beautiful (the original house having been built in the late 18th century), but the grounds themselves include close to three hundred acres of meadows, hiking trails, and land farmed by Roxbury Farm, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member. Thus, not only is the site historical, but it is also beautiful!

Figure 2: Path leading from the Visitor Center and Park Headquarters to the main house

Figure 3: Me in front of Lindenwald, exploring on my first day

Without giving too much of a history lesson that can be found at Lindenwald’s website ( or one of the not-so-many biographies on Van Buren, I will provide just enough context to help make sense of this and future blog posts about my experiences here.


Born and raised in the town of Kinderhook, NY, just twenty miles south of Albany, Van Buren grew up in a very insular Dutch community that had settled along the Hudson River in the early 17th century (In fact, Van Buren spoke English as a second language and had a Dutch accent his whole life). For this reason, Van Buren’s family can very much be tied to Dutch culture and history in the Hudson River Valley, which is only one of several historical story lines which can be found at Lindenwald.


Emphasized in more detail, however, is Van Buren’s antebellum life. Born at the end of the American Revolution, the first president to be born in the new Republic, and dying in the midst of the Civil War, Van Buren’s lifetime frames a crucial period of American history where the new Republic sought not only to remain a unified force in the face of much larger, much older nations, but also to establish who Americans were as a people. Van Buren, a Dutch New Yorker whose father owned slaves, whose first lady was his South Carolinian daughter-in-law, and whose own private residence was worked largely by Irish immigrants, had to contend with these issues throughout most of his political career. Thus, while you cannot escape a tour of Lindenwald without encountering politics, the site itself explores wider events of the antebellum period related to slavery, immigration, reform efforts, and voting rights, just to name a few.

Figure 4:
Enlarged political prints hanging in park headquarters

Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States from 1837 to 1841. Having been shadowed by the Panic of 1837, the largest American economic downturn until the Great Depression of 1929, Van Buren’s presidency itself has very much become a blip in American historic and popular memory. However, Van Buren’s political career was long-lived and significant. Aside from his brief stint as president, Van Buren was a mover and shaper of American politics for much of the antebellum period. Perhaps his most crucial work (as many here at the site would argue), was in directly founding the Democratic party (e.g. of Andrew Jackson for whom he served first as Secretary of State and later Vice President) and indirectly helping to found the Republican party through his support (and presidential campaign) for the Free Soil party, which later became absorbed into the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. Despite his short stature (for which he was nicknamed “Little Van”), Van Buren remained large in American political life until his death in 1862, as evidenced by the many political cartoons he continued to appear in until well after his presidential term ended.

Figure 5: 1848 cartoon from For more MVB cartoons, visit the Library of Congress’s online collection at

So what am I doing here? My job is twofold. First, I am helping to develop an educational program on civics and the history of voting rights in New York for local fifth graders. Second, I am expanding site research on the women of Lindenwald and Van Buren’s life, as the nation is coming up on the centennial of the 19th Amendment. The women of Lindenwald are quite a cast of characters, and I cannot wait to explore more deeply the lives they lived.


My first week here was largely spent familiarizing myself with the site, the village of Kinderhook, New York Dutch history, Martin Van Buren, and the early women’s rights movement. After conducting much secondary (and a little primary) research, I was able to help chaperone a group of Youth Conservation Corps teens, working here at Lindenwald, to Crailo State Historic Site and the New York State Museum. Crailo interprets the history of Dutch settlement in the Hudson River Valley, the site having been built on the bank of the Hudson River in the early eighteenth century by Hendrick Van Rensselaear, a founding family of the area. After learning that the Dutch used to sleep sitting up (for reasons still speculated upon today), we went to the State Museum, tried to find Martin Van Buren somewhere, and failed to do so. Again, he is a lost president, even to his own state!

Figure 6: The back of Crailo house

Figure 7: Garden alley of Crailo, facing the Hudson River

Figure 8: One of our first views walking into the main exhibit area of the New York State Museum!

Figure 9: Part of my research relates to changes in the lives of women in the antebellum period, including education! I also just really liked this print by popular landscape artist and printmaker Winslow Homer.

Figure 10: A Quote from Susan B. Anthony

It is near impossible to talk about antebellum New York history without discussing the various reform movements that swept across the state (and country) at the time. This wave of reform was aided by the finishing of the Erie Canal in 1825, which connected the state’s people, goods, and ideas like never before, and the Second Great Awakening, which infused Americans with a renewed evangelical fervor for projects related to temperance, prison reform, poor relief, education, antislavery and abolition, and women’s rights, among many others.

Figure 11: Our view of the state capital building from the fourth floor of the museum









Transitioning Programs and a Field Visit to Liberty Island

By Anna Tiburzi

Welcome back! Buckle up, we’re in for a long one.

We’ve reached the end of week seven, which is the lucky week that marks the very beginning of what will be a very back and forth transition period. Up until now, as you may have read in earlier posts, I’ve been pretty deeply entrenched in CAD files and SketchUp models, adding things in, smoothing oddities out, and setting them up for later tasks just in general. Modeling isn’t really fast work, but we’re finally reaching a transition stage – while I’ve been sort of swimming in the deep end of SketchUp up until now, I finally get to dip my toes in Lumion.

Lumion, for those who may not be familiar, is a rendering software. In it, I can import SketchUp models and start adding materials, modeled trees, and other elements that will start bringing the models to life. I can also set up scenes and begin to adjust effects like sun position and clouds, wind and weather, color and light.

Figure 1: Original 1952 Model in SketchUp

Figure 2: Developed 1952 Model in SketchUp – terrain mesh smoothed and material applications underway

It’s not a clean transition from one program to the next, it never is. No matter how close you get the SketchUp model, once you get it into Lumion for further development, you always find things to go back and fix or change. Things you missed or things you didn’t even think of now seem to be obviously missing. As I continue to find and receive new information about materials, buildings, and vegetation, it becomes a pattern of bouncing between the two programs.

For example, if I can get information on what species each tree is, I can place those species in Lumion and get the model that much closer to what it is or was. We already have some idea of tree sizes and/or diameters from existing plans and the original SketchUp models – you may have remembered those white cylinders in pictures in my last post, they act as placeholder guides to give me an idea of heights and locations now that I’m in Lumion. That might seem like a lot of detail, but the character of a tree can sometimes have a lot of impact on a scene and the opportunity to really get the sense of place right – or really throw the viewer off if they know it’s wrong, so it really makes a difference if we can get as many details correct as we can.

Figure 3: 1952 model exported in Lumion, in workspace

Figure 4: 1952 model, in-progress

Only the 1952 model has been brought into Lumion so far. The work that needs to be done in SketchUp isn’t over yet, there’s elements here and there that I still need to model, including the fort entrance and that tricky seawall – though I have a plan for both of those. I’m learning more about materials every day, going back and adding lines to differentiate areas so I can add separate materials back in Lumion.

I’ve also begun setting up those vantages that I discussed in Post 1. Once I’ve gotten them squared away in the 1952 model, I can replace and import the other models into the 1952 model’s place and save them as their own files so all those scenes and vantages I set up will be preserved across all 6 models again, recreating those repeat photography images we’re striving for. But I’m not really ready to start swapping out models yet, the work I’m doing in 1952 still has a ways to go.

If you’re wondering why the 1952 model gets the special treatment as the Lumion guinea pig, I don’t have a great answer except it happened to be the furthest along at the moment I needed one to be ready. I needed to run some test renders and try some things out and the other five just weren’t anywhere close to being ready enough for me to pull a convincing scene from them.

Here I’ve included these two test renders, done in different views and styles, rendered in Lumion and processed in Adobe Photoshop. You can tell we’re not fully ready yet to be moving on from SketchUp – the fort is missing its coping stones, the buildings are still sort of nondescript, the trees are generic placeholders, the materials aren’t quite right – and that’s just what you can see from the viewpoints I’ve selected – but it’s obvious we’re really starting to get somewhere and these images make it possible to open a dialogue for others on the Liberty team to respond and react to as we move forward.

Figure 5: 1952 Test Render A

Figure 6: 1952 Test Render B

Figure 7: Sample video render of an early and in-progress 1952 Lumion model

Liberty Island Site Visit

As you can probably tell by now, I’ve dedicated a lot of time to the models, becoming familiar with them, working on their meshes, adding materials, putting in walls and steps…it goes on. I like to joke sometimes that I live in the models, or I’m at least a very frequent tourist, made slightly ironic by the fact that I’ve never actually been to Liberty Island in reality, never actually seen Liberty herself up close.

This week, not only did we rectify that, but I got to do something only a fraction of Liberty’s daily visitors get to do – I was going up in the crown.

I arrived in NYC late Monday afternoon. Joining me from Syracuse, NY was my mentor on the project, Professor Aidan Ackerman (SUNY ESF) and, from the OCLP office in Boston, Eliot Foulds and Julia Miller. My evening was free and, already having confirmed our meeting time tomorrow morning with the others, I decided to walk down to Battery Park, where I got my first glimpse on the trip of Liberty herself.

Figure 8: View of Liberty from Battle Park, NYC

View of Liberty from Battery Park, NYC

Having grown up in Westchester County, I’ve been a frequent visitor to New York City throughout my life, but I’ve never stayed the night, so this was my first opportunity to wake up in Manhattan surrounded by skyscraper after skyscraper. It’s a view you can really appreciate any day, any time – which is good, because it was 5:30 am and I was due in the lobby in just over an hour. I got dressed and hit a cafe on the corner for breakfast and a very necessary coffee. No one’s ever accused me of being a morning person.

Figure 9: View from my hotel room up on the 42nd floor

We boarded the 7:30 am ferry to the island. Just us and park staff, we had our pick of seats and amazing views of the skyline as we pulled away from Battery Park.

Figure 10: Looking back at the Manhattan skyline as we ride the ferry to Liberty Island

Figure 11: Rounding the edge of the island

The first public ferry doesn’t leave until 8am, so Liberty Island is quiet and almost serene in the morning sun. We’re not alone though, we’ve got some park staff with us, including Superintendent of Liberty Island, John Piltzecker.

Figure 12: The view as you approach Liberty

The entrance to the 11-point fort is massive – that’s a lot of granite blocks – and a welcome sight. I’d been frustrated trying to add the missing entrance to the 6 models, not having found enough information to satisfy me. Now that I’ve got some pictures and measurements to work with, I can start developing them when I get back to Syracuse.

Figure 13: The entrance to the star fort, which is still missing from each of the 6 models

Walking through the doors brings you into the pedestal lobby where Liberty’s original torch used to sit before it was moved into the new Visitor’s Center and Museum on the other side of the island. We went up a flight to the second floor of the fort and walked around before loading into the elevator which would take us up to the top of the pedestal. There’s no elevator in the statue itself, so from pedestal to crown, we’re on our own.

Figure 14: The double-helix staircase

Liberty’s staircase is a double-helix which rises straight up from pedestal to crown. The clearance in the helix is just over 6 feet, with a width of less than 20 inches. Made of relatively thin copper sheets with steel armature, it’s not exactly comfortable in Liberty. Each step is 9″ in height and 8″ wide – and there’s over 160 of them in the double helix alone.

Figure 15: The view from the crown

It’s a relief to finally take the last step onto the final landing. It’s not exactly a cool day out and so it’s definitely hot up there, but the view is beautiful and it’s the crown, so a little heat is worth it. The first public ferry is still working its way over to Liberty Island so we have some time to ourselves before other visitors bearing crown tickets even take a step onto the island. We hang out up there for about a half an hour, talking with the NPS staff who came up with us, asking them questions and discussing the island, the statue, and our projects.

Figure 16: Here I am (in my new ACE shirt) nestled in Liberty’s crown

Figure 17: If I look a little warm, here’s why. It’s a little toasty in the copper statue

We learn a lot, including why you can’t go any higher than the crown – and, for most, you wouldn’t really want to. While the double-helix staircase isn’t exactly a party, access to the torch is actually made by climbing onto a platform near Liberty’s shoulder and ascending a near vertical ladder which terminates in a manhole-like exit out onto the torch.

Figure 18: The view of the torch from the crown

At some point, we do have to come down, there’s work to be done. On our way down we explore the pedestal and terreplein. I’ve got a whole list of images I’d like to take for modeling later and measurements I want to grab for reference. I’m collecting pictures of materials, dimensions, vegetation, and skylines and getting a much better feel for the island’s scale and spatial relationships overall.

Figure 19: View of Liberty from the base of her pedestal

Figure 20: Looking over the new terreplein towards the new visitor center

We visited the new Visitor’s Center and Museum, where the original torch stands on display. It looks very different from the one Liberty currently holds, but the newer torch is actually much truer to Liberty’s original design by Bartholdi.

Figure 21: The original torch

Wrapping up on Liberty Island, we headed to Ellis Island – another place I’d never visited. We got to tour the old buildings, hard hats and all, and see areas like the quarantine wards, doctors’ residences, and morgue. Not immediately relevant in my modeling but it’s always a good idea to get an idea of the relationships between places and the character of related spaces, as well as what Liberty Island looks like from various perspectives. It’s all good information.

At some point, the day does come to a close and my feet are grateful. Armed with pictures, measurements, and a greater understanding of the island itself, it’s time to go back home.

If you made it all the way to the end of this lengthy post, thanks for staying, there’s more to come soon!





A Digital Glimpse into Liberty Island and a Week in Acadia

By Anna Tiburzi

Hi all!

First, a little about me – my name is Anna Tiburzi. I’m currently a graduate student studying Landscape Architecture at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse, NY. Before coming here, I received my Bachelor’s in Geography from SUNY Geneseo in 2015. Before you ask – yes, I do like maps and I’ve been known to have made a few, though I focused my geographical studies on the relationship between landscapes and people and how they shape each other.

The rare moments I’m not hunched over a drafting table or my laptop, I like to read – though I buy books at a faster pace then I can finish them. Other than that, I play video games, I buy art supplies, I plan adventures with friends – the usual. But like I said, I’m generally pretty attached to my laptop and lately I’ve been developing my skills and working out the strengths (and challenges) of the different programs I’ve learned to use so far after my first year in graduate school. This internship is an opportunity to get even more experience and expand what I know.

Over the next 11-weeks, I’ll be working with ACE in partnership with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (OCLP) in helping to develop the Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) for Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty National Monument by furthering existing 3D models of the island. Our goals for the project are to continue to develop current documentation and models that will help in future stewardship of the island, as well as create and document reusable workflows that can be adapted to other projects.

The OCLP’s Designing the Parks Internship Program offers the opportunity to participate in a week-long field experience trip to Acadia National Park, ME. So on June 8th, I pressed pause on Liberty Island and left Syracuse – along with three other OCLP interns from SUNY ESF – for Boston, MA to meet up with the other six interns who were also headed to Acadia.

We began work in Acadia on June 9th, developing six Cultural Landscape Inventories (CLI) for the park at Sieur de Monts, Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Thunder Hole, Blackwoods campground, and Seawall campground. Working on the CLIs and meeting with different park staff, including the park superintendent, trail foreman, and curator, kept us all busy, but we found moments between to explore the park and Mt Desert Island – crossing the land bridge to Bar Island, ducking in and out of shops in the pouring rain, waking up before dawn to see the sunrise on top of Cadillac Mountain, and visiting the Abbe Museum. It was great meeting and working with the other interns and having the chance to get to know them all.

 Now back in Syracuse, NY, there was work to be done. Currently there are SketchUp models of Liberty Island across six different time periods: 1840, 1880, 1902, 1937, 1952, and 2018. One of our goals is to create digital repeat photography across each of these time periods for six different vantages of the island and its topography, views and vistas, spatial orientation, and circulation. I began by setting up preliminary scenes in SketchUp across all six models for comparison and to assess where further views and adjustments might be needed. I also began collecting examples of concepts for the project’s graphic style and exploring journal articles and other literature for precedents in digital historical reconstruction and speculative/uncertainty visualization.

Further development of the models is also underway, though very much still in the early stages. Along with setting up scenes across each of the models, I’ve begun developing terrain meshes from the existing contour information and CAD files and isolating the paths and walkways in each to be manipulated later. The terrain meshes are presenting some challenges; despite having both the SketchUp model and the CAD drawings, the geometry of the produced meshes are flawed in areas. More time will have to be devoted to fixing these areas, but I didn’t expect them all to come out perfect on their first try anyway.

While many of the vantages are based on views from existing photographs or concept images, there’s still a lot to be done perfecting the angles and using other techniques, such as strategically ghosting out blocking elements or features. Current trees have been temporarily hidden on their own layer and replaced by placeholders to make it easier to visualize and work with the model at this stage. I’m also looking for and researching any missing elements that can be added in; at this time, I’m working on the sea wall that surrounds the island, which is missing from each of the models.

Working with and between different programs presents its own challenges, but overall, the models, photographs, and maps that I’ve been given a chance to work with are amazing. It’s a look into Liberty Island’s past in a way that I’ve never had the chance to do before and I’m looking forward to progressing even further with the project and becoming more familiar with the resources at hand and the models themselves, as well as adding to them and helping create more comprehensive models and imagery.

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