HIST 495A/713: New History in Old Baltimore

History 495A/713:
New History in Old Baltimore

Professor Terry Bouton
Phone: 410-455-2056
E-MAIL: bouton[at]umbc.edu
Office: 722 Administration Bldg.
Office Hours: Tues. 2pm-3:30pm; Thurs. 10:15am-11:15am and by appointment

(It is always best to email before you plan to come to office hours so I can block out time for you.  I typically schedule meetings with students and advisees during office hours, so it’s best to contact me before you plan to arrive to make certain I’m available.)
Course Description:
History 495A/713 is not your typical history course. This class is going to be an applied history course—or a course in public history—that will center on “Carroll’s Hundred” at Carroll Park, a historic site in Baltimore a few miles from UMBC’s campus. The site is associated with the Mount Clare Museum House, an 18th century home owned by one of the Carroll family. (http://www.mountclare.org/history-industry-mc.html). However, we will not be dealing with the house directly. Rather, the course will focus on the grounds surrounding the home which are technically administered by the Baltimore City Parks Department. Currently there is historical interpretation within the Museum but no interpretation of the grounds. That’s where we come in. The purpose of this course is to launch an interpretive program for Carroll’s Hundred focusing on the era of the American Revolution. Essentially we will be building that program from the ground up with the end goal being the production of guided tours on the grounds. The idea is to complement the interpretation in the house, which focuses on the Carroll family and their material possessions, with a program that talks about what happened outside the house: plantation labor (indentured servants, slaves, and convict labor), the foundry which operated with slave labor, the external house architecture, and the landscaping (gardens and fruit tree groves). We’ll be conducting research on the people who lived on the grounds and exploring how their lives unfolded. We’ll also work on placing the specific Carroll’s Hundred story into its wider historical context so tour guides will be able to help students and tourists see the bigger picture. Finally, we’ll be turning the research into narratives and support material that guides will eventually use to conduct tours.  This can involve anything from producing tour manuals with background information, to cataloging artifacts, to figuring out ways to work the material culture at the site into a tour, to developing characters and support materials for living historians who will bring to life characters from the past. Of course, there will also be opportunities to lead tours or become living historians yourselves. There will also be possibilities for other kinds of projects such as website design. And all this is just for starters.

This is an exciting opportunity but it will also be a demanding one. First the course will entail a heavy workload in terms of research and writing. I imagine the course will involve as much research and writing as HIST 496 or 497 (the research capstones) and perhaps even more. Second, although you’ll be reading traditional academic histories as part of your research, much of the reading we’ll be doing together will concern the ins and outs of running a small historical site, how to present emotionally charged topics like slavery, and how to develop stimulating tours. Finally, the course will require you to spend a decent amount of time on site: we’ll sometimes meet at Carroll Park and your research projects will invariably involve frequent (and perhaps even weekly) trips to the Museum House.
The following are available for purchase at the campus bookstore.  If you’re shopping for used copies, you may be able to save some money by purchasing from www.amazon.com, http://half.ebay.com/index.jsp or www.bookfinder.com.

1) Richard Handler and Eric Gable, The New History in an OldMuseum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg, Publisher: Duke University Press (September, 1997), ISBN: 0822319748

2) Jessica Foy Donnelly, Interpreting Historic HouseMuseums, AltaMira Press (January, 2003), ISBN: 0759102511

3) Barbara Amramoff Levy, et al, Great Tours!: Thematic Tours and Guide Training for Historic Sites (American Association for State and Local History), Altamira Press (March, 2002), ISBN: 0759100993


The various tests and assignments for the course will produce a possible 300 points.  Your total grade for the class will be determined by tallying your scores the following five elements:


PARTICIPATION:                  50 pts.

       PRESENTATION:                   25 pts.
REFLECTION PAPER:         25 pts.    

       PROJECT:                              100 pts.

       POSTINGS:                            100 pts ___

       TOTAL GRADE:                   300 pts.


At the end of the semester:   360-400 points will be an A

                                                320-359 points will be a B

                                                280-319 points will be a C

                                                240-279 points will be a D

                                                Below 240 points will be an F

Participation: (50 Points)

In large part, the success of this course will depend on everyone’s active participation in classroom discussion. Fifty points of your participation grade will depend on regular class attendance, coming to scheduled meetings, and your contributions to discussions.  The final twenty-five points will be based on a 7-10 page paper that

Presentation: (25 Points)

Every student will give a 15-minute presentation of their project at the end of the semester. The presentation should be an informative and engaging display of what you have accomplished this semester. I’ll leave it to you to decide how you present what you have done this semester. Creative and entertaining presentations are highly encouraged.

Reflection Paper: (25 Points)

Every student will complete a 7-10 page paper that reflects on what they learned about public history this semester. The paper should not recount what you did so much as it should highlight what you got out of your experiences. You may want to consider such questions as: What did you learn about running a small historical site or the work that goes into creating tours or the issues that need to be considered in interpreting history for the general public? What were the greatest rewards and frustrations you experienced as a practitioner of public history? What was the learning curve like? What would you have done differently? What do you see as the future of the site and your part of it?  (You need not answer any of these specific questions, I simply pose them to give you a sense of what I mean by “reflection.” Alternately, if you developed strong feelings about some part of this experience, you may focus on that single aspect.  Again, I don’t want a recap of what you did this semester, I’m more interested in the insights you drew about the process of being a public historian).

Project: (100 Points)
The projects are the heart of what we will be doing this semester. For the projects, I want you to think about yourselves as private contractors who have been hired by Carroll Park to produce some discrete interpretive product. The exact form of the projects will vary depending on what your product will be.  This may be webpages, promotional materials, educational packages for student groups, a tour script, or a manual with background information for tours on slavery, iron foundries, or genteel landscaping.

Blackboard Postings: (100 Points)

The grade for reading discussion will depend on posts to the Blackboard Discussion Board, which I will treat as short papers. There will be TEN posting assignments throughout the semester, each worth ten points. I will grade postings based on the quantity and quality of your response.  Each posting must use SPECIFIC EXAMPLES and QUOTATIONS from the reading to support your argument (when appropriate) and provide PAGE NUMBERS from the books (again, when appropriate).  I will be looking to make sure that your quotations come from THROUGHOUT the reading and not just from a few pages at the beginning or end of the book. Think of the postings as mini-papers of about a page of single-spaced text. Remember to ANSWER the QUESTION rather than just reporting what the reading said.  These are analytical essays designed to prove an argument, not “book reports.” Make sure you proofread your posts before you submit them!

NOTE: To receive full credit, you must make your posting by on the days listed below by 12:30PM.  If you do not finish your posting by class time, DO NOT cut class to submit a posting; simply submit it after class.  I will deduct DOUBLE the number of late points for any posting submitted during the time the class meets.

IMPORTANT: I require everyone to save a personal copy of all of their discussion postings on their home computer, floppy disk, or whatever other storage device they have.  Since Blackboard is occasionally buggy, I HIGHLY suggest that you type out your response with a word processing program and then cut and paste your response into Blackboard. If you have a problem with Blackboard, it is your responsibility to ensure that I receive a copy of your posting by the deadline.  DO NOT automatically email me a copy of every posting.  ONLY email postings in the event of a Blackboard emergency.


Warning: I consider Blackboard Reading discussion to be one of the most important parts of the course. DO NOT take these assignments lightly. If you put effort into the postings, they are one of the surest ways to boost your grade. If you blow them off, they can kill your grade and result in you failing the course—no matter how well you do on the exams. When I assign final grades at the end of the semester, I always use postings to decide whether to bump up the grades of those on the borderlines. If you have diligently completed your postings, I usually will bump your grade. If you have failed to submit postings or continually submit them late, I WILL NOT BUMP YOUR GRADE even if you are one or two points short of the next grade level.
Getting started on Blackboard: Blackboard is relatively easy to use and will allow you to have access to course materials 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the Internet.  If you have registered for the course, you should automatically be registered on Blackboard. As a UMBC student, you have a personal email account and access to the Internet and through the school’s many on-campus computer labs.  You can also access Blackboard off campus through a personal account or from the UMBC dial-up.  BEFORE you do anything else, check to see if you are enrolled in the course by going to http://blackboard.umbc.edu.  If you have been automatically registered, take some time to explore the Blackboard site for the course.  If Blackboard indicates that you are not registered, follow the directions at the main Blackboard site for new users.

I will send all email messages to your UMBC email account
(yourusername@umbc.edu). If you do not usually check this account, have messages forwarded to your preferred email address (such as aol, hotmail, etc.). For help with this procedure, or if you have other questions about UMBC’s Office of Information Technology services visit the OIT helpsite at http://www.umbc.edu/oit/. Helpdesk personnel in the on-campus computer labs can help with most questions. The helpdesk phone number is 410-455-3838.

Random Rules:
TURN OFF CELL PHONES, BEEPERS, WATCH ALARMS, or any other device that might disturb the class.  I will make examples of those who violate this rule (for example, if your phone rings, I will take the call).  2) On test days, students will not wear hats of any kind.  If you come to class wearing a hat, you will be asked to remove it.  3) On test days, if you leave the room for any reason, I will consider your test to be completed.  In other words, make your trip to the restroom before the test begins. If you need a drink, bring one; if you have a cold, bring Kleenex.

Academic Integrity:
By enrolling in this course, each student assumes the responsibilities of an active participant in UMBC’s scholarly community in which everyone’s academic work and behavior are held to the highest standards of honesty. Cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, and helping others to commit these acts are all forms of academic dishonesty, and they are wrong.  Academic misconduct could result in disciplinary action that may include, but is not limited to, suspension or dismissal.  To read the full Student Academic Conduct Policy, consult the UMBC Student Handbook, the Faculty Handbook, or the UMBC Policies section of the UMBC Directory. To read the policy online, see: http://www.umbc.edu/integrity/.

I show no mercy toward cheaters.  If you are caught cheating on any test or assignment, you will receive a zero for that grade and I will submit your name to the proper disciplinary authority.  Rest assured that I will do all I can to see that those disciplinary bodies take the strongest possible action against anyone who cheats.  Potential cheaters: you have been warned.

Schedule of Topics


Week 1
Tues., Jan. 31:      Introduction: Meeting with Pam Charshee


Thurs., Feb. 2:      Meet at Carroll Park: Click here for directions: http://www.mountclare.org/visitor-info-mc.html

Week 2               

Tues., Feb. 7:       Discussion of Mount Clare Museum House and Tour

Discussion Posting #1
: Take a tour of the Mount Clare Museum House and write a review of your experience, focusing on the history the tour presents.  What kinds of topics does the tour discuss? What does it not cover? What did the tour do that you found effective? What was not effective?  What would you do to improve the tour? The Mount Clare Museum House is open
Tuesday-Saturday 10 am – 4 pm with guided tours beginning at 10 o’clock and continuing on the hour, last tour at 3 pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, and major holidays.


Post Review to Blackboard by 12:00PM

Thurs., Feb. 9:     Selection of Topics

Week 3

Tues., Feb. 14:     Discussion of Hampton National Historical Site

Discussion Posting #2
: Take a tour of the Hampton National Historic Site and write a review of your experience, focusing on how the tour deals with the grounds and questions of slavery and indentured servitude. What does Hampton do well in its tours that you think would be worthy of emulation? What does Hampton not do well? What would you change about the tour to make it more effective?  For information on Hampton, click here: http://www.nps.gov/hamp/.  Hampton is open daily from 9:30am-4pm. Currently the mansion is undergoing renovations so, luckily for us, most of the tour now focuses on the farmhouse and what happened on the grounds. This should give you a much better opportunity to see how the site handles the kind of issues we’ll be dealing with.


Post Review to Blackboard by 12:00PM


Thurs., Feb. 16:    Discussion: The Difficulties of Discussing Slavery

1) James Oliver Horton, “Presenting Slavery: The Perils of Telling America’s Racial Story,” The Public Historian
1999 21(4): 19-38 (hand out)


2) John Michael Vlach, “Looking Behind the Marble Mask: Varied African American Responses to Difficult History in Washington, D.C. in John J. Czaplicka and Blair A. Ruble, editors. Composing Urban History and the Constitution of Civic Identities (Johns Hopkins, 2003), 31-57 (hand out)


3) Susan P. Schreiber “Interpreting Slavery at National Trust Sites: A Case Study in Addressing Difficult Topics” Cultural Resource Management 2000 23 (no. 5): 49-52: http://crm.cr.nps.gov/archive/23-05/23-05-15.pdf

Week 4

Tues., Feb. 21:     Slavery and Colonial Williamsburg: Discussion of Handler and Gable


1) Handler and Gable, The New History in an OldMuseum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg

Discussion Posting #3: How well do you think Colonial Williamsburg handled the incorporation of slavery into its interpretive program? What do you think are the lessons to be learned from their experience?


Post Discussion to Blackboard by 12:00PM

Thurs. Feb. 23:     Discussion of the Problems and Possibilities Interpreting Slavery: Special guest Karen Sutton, former Historical Interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg

Karen E. Sutton, “Confronting Slavery Face-to-face: A twenty-first century interpreter’s perspective on eighteenth-century slavery,” CommonPlace 1 no. 4 (July 2001): http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-04/slavery/sutton.shtml

Week 5

Tues., Feb. 28:     TBA


Thurs., Mar. 2:     TBA


Week 6

Tues., Mar. 7:      TBA

Thurs., Mar. 9:     TBA

Week 7

Tues., Mar. 14:     TBA   

Thurs., Mar. 16:   TBA

Week 8

Tues., Mar. 21:     SPRING BREAK  


Thurs., Mar. 23:   SPRING BREAK


Week 9

Tues., Mar. 28:     Research Meeting

Thurs., Mar. 30:   Individual Meetings

Week 10

Tues., Apr. 4:       Individual Meetings

Thurs., Apr. 6:     Meeting to Discuss Secondary Literature


Discussion Posting #5: Write an analysis of the secondary literature focusing on the part of the literature that relate to the story you intend to tell at Carroll’s Hundred. You should think of this as the first draft of the content background that you are writing for future interpreters so that they have enough information to develop compelling interpretation on your topic and .to answer questions from tourists. You should use footnotes that make it clear where you have gotten your material. You should also include a brief annotated bibliography that provides a short paragraph explaining the importance of each source you use for your topic


Post Discussion to Blackboard by 12:00PM


Week 11

Tues., Apr. 11:     Individual Meetings


Thurs., Apr. 13:   Meeting to Discuss Primary Sources


Discussion Posting #6: Transcribe your primary sources into a word document and write an analysis of those sources focusing on their significance for the subject of your Carroll’s Hundred tour. Treat this as the first draft of the guide material you are developing for future interpreters. You should focus on interpreting the sources so others can understand what the documents reveal and appreciate their larger historical significance. If your topic is not a document-intensive one, you should explain how you intend to explore your topic within the specific Carroll’s Hundred case.  In other words, how should future tour guides tie your topic to the landscape, house, gardens, history, or visual aids (like costumes) that the guides might have at their disposal. (Don’t assume there’s going to be a visitors’ center or anywhere that maps can be shown). If your focus is on the landscape or house, explain specifically where guides should tell visitors to look and what they should look for or imagine. 


Post Discussion to Blackboard by 12:00PM


Week 12    

Tues., Apr. 18:     Individual Meetings


Thurs. Apr. 20:    Discussion of Interpreting Historic House Museums and Great Tours!


Discussion Posting #7: What were the TEN most helpful tips on developing tours that you got out of Interpreting Historic House Museums and Great Tours. Explain each answer reflecting on Carroll’s Hundred in general as well as your topic in particular.


Post Discussion to Blackboard by 12:00PM



Week 13

Tues., Apr. 25:     Individual Meetings


Thurs., Apr. 27:    Draft of Content and Primary Source Interpretive Guide

Discussion Posting #8: Put together your materials from the primary and secondary literature in a draft of the final version of your interpretive materials. Remember that you’re writing for future tour guide and that you need to make your points very clear and explain things so that connections between the larger historical points you want future tour guides to make are clearly linked to the primary source material and anecdotes you want them to tell.


Post Discussion to Blackboard by 12:00PM

Week 14                            

Tues., May 2:      Presentations

Thurs., May 4:     Presentations


Discussion Posting #9: Critique of the content of your classmates’ presentations. What worked well in the presentations? What needed additional clarification or work? What questions did you have that you would have liked the presenter to answer? Imagine yourself writing as the interested general public who knows little about the topic. What kinds of questions do you think this topic or presentation might provoke?  The goal here is not to rip one another to shreds, but rather to offer helpful criticism (both in terms of what is good and what needs improvement). For presenters, it’s a chance to see how others react to your tour-in-progress and to get a sense of what people wanted to know that you did not cover or what you covered that they wanted to know more about so that you can tweak your interpretation.


Post Discussion to Blackboard by Sunday 5:00PM



Week 15

Tues., May 9:      Presentations

Thurs., May 11:   Presentations


Discussion Posting #10: Critique of the content of your classmates’ presentations. What worked well in the presentations? What needed additional clarification or work? What questions did you have that you would have liked the presenter to answer? Imagine yourself writing as the interested general public who knows little about the topic. What kinds of questions do you think this topic or presentation might provoke?  The goal here is not to rip one another to shreds, but rather to offer helpful criticism (both in terms of what is good and what needs improvement). For presenters, it’s a chance to see how others react to your tour-in-progress and to get a sense of what people wanted to know that you did not cover or what you covered that they wanted to know more about so that you can tweak your interpretation.


Post Discussion to Blackboard by Sunday 5:00PM



Week 16

Tues., May 16:     Carroll Park: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next, a Wrap-Up Discussion


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