ECU student discusses Tuscarora at UNCC Graduate History Forum

Matthew Esterline, graduate student in history at East Carolina University, discussed John Lawson and the Tuscarora War at UNC-Charlotte’s 25th Annual Graduate History Forum on April 19-20. The presentation, titled “Spanish Oyster-Shell and Blood: An Examination of John Lawson and the Tuscarora,” was presented to faculty from across the state.

The presentation focused on the mystery behind and reasons for Lawson’s execution as well as the tensions between the Tuscarora Indians and colonists which lead to the war.

Esterline also participated with media relations for the Nooherooka 300 Commemoration held at ECU and Snow Hill in March. He said he wanted to raising awareness of the Tuscarora.

The graduate history forum featured guest speaker Dr. William Kimler, NCSU history professor and scholar on the history of biology and evolutionary ideas.

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ECU students spend Spring Break conserving shipwreck artifacts

PRESERVING ARTIFACTS: Eleven graduate students from ECU’s program in maritime history and four student interns from UNC-W spent their Spring Break working to conserve and catalogue artifacts from a Civil War-era shipwreck at the Fort Fisher State Historic Site. The artifacts were from the Blockade Runner Modern Greece. (Video courtesy of Brian Nestor, video producer, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.)

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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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