Category Archives: History

ECU researchers explore history near Columbia

Dr. Nathan Richards, far right, presents information about known shipwrecks on the Scuppernong River at the Pocosin Arts Center in June. (Contributed photo)

 

East Carolina University researchers are collaborating this fall with the UNC Coastal Studies Institute and the citizens of Columbia, N.C. to explore the region’s history and close connection with the state’s coastal waterways.

Initial findings will be presented at an Oct. 6 public forum to be held in conjunction with the community’s annual Scuppernong River Festival and at an information booth open at the festival Oct. 8. More detailed results will be shared in a public symposium planned for late 2011 and a publication in the works for 2012. A grant application related to the project is also under development.

An old photograph of the mail boat, the "Estelle Randall," is among the artifacts uncovered so far in the collaborative project. (date unknown; Source: Mariners Museum PB2876 C176).

The researchers will use side-scanning sonar to search for lost shipwrecks in Bulls Bay and the Scuppernong River, while local residents provide a backdrop through their stories of the region’s history. Topics for study include waterway modifications, the evolution of trade networks and the fishing, lumber and naval store industries in the area.

ECU history professor Dr. Nathan Richards, who specializes in nautical archaeology, met with residents in June to begin conversations about the project. Collection of oral histories has begun, including stories of how residents relied on boats from Elizabeth City to bring the mail and goods that were traded for vegetables, fish and crabs. Residents will provide river tours and house students and faculty participating in the research.

The grant application will seek funding for the development of a digital media project, The Scuppernong River Heritage Trail, which could be presented in tandem with the existing Scuppernong River Interpretative Boardwalk, a .75-mile wetlands trail near Columbia.

Richards said the area provides the perfect location for a maritime heritage trail because of the existing infrastructure, the extensive history in the area and the two prominent rivers in the area (the Scuppernong and Alligator Rivers). Columbia is also situated along a major tourism corridor, he said, as a stop along the route to the North Carolina Outer Banks.

For additional information, contact Richards at 252-258-4264 or richardsn@ecu.edu.

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Making sense of the Civil War: Prokopowicz selected as local project scholar

East Carolina University history department chair Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz will serve as project scholar for the “Let’s Talk About it: Making Sense of the American Civil War” series at the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.

Prokopowicz

The series includes five public conversations centered on the Civil War, thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. The New Bern Craven County Public Library is one of 65 libraries nationwide to receive the competitive grant.

Prokopowicz will facilitate the discussions, which will take place from February through April 2012. Each session will focus on a different facet of the Civil War experience, including such topics as imagining war, choosing sides, making sense of Shiloh, the shape of war and war and freedom. Three books will provide material for the discussions: “March,” by Geraldine Brooks; “Crossroads to Freedom: Antietam,” by James McPherson; and the anthology “America’s War: Talking About the Civil War,” edited by Edward L. Ayers.

Prokopowicz said the series affords an opportunity for members of the community to talk about the war and its effect on the world today.

“The war took place 150 years ago, but the underlying issues are still active in American culture and politics. Too often those issues are oversimplified for TV cameras or debated in classrooms where only scholars and students can participate,” he said.

“This project creates an opportunity for people to have a meaningful, in-depth conversation and to share the many meanings that the war still holds for people in eastern North Carolina.”

The grant provides to the library $3,000 for project-related expenses as well as 25 copies each of “March” and “Crossroads to Freedom” and 50 copies of “America’s War.” Prokopowicz and Joanne Straight, head librarian and project director for the grant, will receive funding to attend an October orientation workshop in Chicago, Ill.

For additional information about the series, contact Straight at 252-638-7800 or by email at jstraight@nbccpl.org. Detailed information about the ALA grant may be viewed online at http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/ppo/programming/civilwar/ltaicw_guidelines.cfm.

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ECU to host National History Day competition

More than 250 middle and high school students are expected to participate March 30 in the regional National History Day competition at East Carolina University. Judging at the event, themed “Debate and Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences” will begin at 10 a.m. in Mendenhall Student Center. The public is invited to attend, said Chad Ross, teaching assistant professor of history.

“You’ll see the excitement and energy in these kids’ faces,” said Ross, who is in his third year of organizing the event.  Read more…

ECU to host National History Day

More than 250 middle and high school students are expected to participate March 30 in the regional National History Day competition at East Carolina University.

Judging at the event, themed “Debate and Diplomacy: Successes, Failures, Consequences” will begin at 10 a.m. in Mendenhall Student Center. The public is invited to attend, said Chad Ross, teaching assistant professor of history.

“You’ll see the excitement and energy in these kids’ faces,” said Ross, who is in his third year of organizing the event.

The regional NHD will draw students from counties east of Interstate 95. Winners will proceed to the state competition in Raleigh, which precedes the national contest in College Park, Md.

More than half a million students nationwide participate annually in NHD by writing papers or preparing exhibits, performances, websites or documentaries.

NHD helps students across the country develop critical thinking, research and presentation skills. It also fosters self-esteem and helps develop a sense of responsibility for an involvement in the democratic process.

A study released in January found that students who participated in National History Day perform better on high-stakes tests, are better writers, more confident and capable researchers, and have a more mature perspective on current events and civic engagement than their peers.

The ECU Department of History sponsors the regional contest as part of its efforts to interact with the community and bring history to people, Ross said.

To learn more about National History Day and the March 30 event, contact Chad Ross, Ph.D., teaching assistant professor of history, at 252-328-6089 or rossch@ecu.edu. More information can also be found at http://www.nhd.org.

Protecting Artifacts

On Feb. 19, the 66th anniversary of the landing of the U.S. invasion on Iwo Jima, East Carolina University historians and conservators held a public viewing of a rare rubber topographical map depicting Iwo Jima during WWII. The map illustrated airstrips and roads on the island and was used for training naval intelligence officers. ECU Director of Conservation Susanne Grieve (Maritime Studies) said ECU conservators preserved the map by removing previous restorations that caused the rubber to deteriorate. Grieve, center, is pictured above with maritime studies graduate student Nicole Wittig, left, and Emily Powell, graduate student in history. Following the event, the map was returned to the Battleship North Carolina collection in Wilmington. Other presenters included history professors Michael Palmer on World War II and John Tucker on Japan in World War II; and Joyner Library Special Collections Curator Jonathan Dembo on the Joyner Library World War II special collections. Dembo displayed items from the library’s collections of original letters, action reports and maps showing the landing beaches on Iwo Jima and the Western Pacific theater. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

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