Taking the Scholarship and the Student Quest to the Public

Saturday, January 6, 2018: 4:10 PM
Calvert Room (Omni Shoreham)
David McKenzie, Ford's Theatre
David McKenzie presents how a digital primary source collection on how people responded to Lincoln’s assassination helps build a broader definition of Lincoln. Inclusion of the relationship between Mexican Americans and Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre’s award-winning “Remembering Lincoln” is part of a wider effort to expand the ethnic and geographic scope of the Lincoln assassination response included in the collection. Even the creation of a new tag “Mexican American” signals the greater scope. The digital collection affords the public full and easy access to key documents on which the students’ claims for Latinos’ support of Lincoln are based, including the tribute from which they quoted extensively at their vigil of remembrance at the Illinois State Capitol. To share some of the documents that drove their quest gave the students the chance to reveal the solidarity, across race and nationality, in defense of the pan-Republican ideal of the rule of the people. The students’ contributions to “Remembering Lincoln” likewise expose the threats—again, multiracial and multinational—to that ideal from expansionists, imperialists, and champions of slavery. By publishing these documents on Latinos mourning Lincoln’s death, McKenzie not only acquainted the public with a new dimension of Lincoln’s history among different communities, he also mentored the students in the digital skills necessary to institutionalize this history beyond documents strictly relevant to Lincoln’s assassination. Notably, he offered class tutorials that enabled the students to build their own website, modeled after Ford’s Theatre’s, to share a broader range of primary sources with the people of Illinois as the students’ quest continues. McKenzie in turn institutionalizes the collaboration by presenting it at conferences of museum professionals. The public historian’s collaboration with a distinguished scholar at a research powerhouse and a public history professor at a small teaching institution can be replicated for other public historians. 
<< Previous Presentation | Next Presentation