The Mark Twain House and Museum has just launched a new program called “It Happened in Your Town.” They are inviting Connecticut teachers, students, and historical societies to provide research on their local communities in the year 1874. The museum invites SHGAPE members to put this research in a broader context for the public through a series of short essays.
Although it was many years ago, I still vividly remember microhistory week in my graduate research and methods course. When employing microhistory, the historian uses a small event or story to illuminate much larger contexts and historical trends. And, as Duane Corpis suggests, one of microhistory’s great strengths is the ability to present “especially peculiar moments in the past” along with “strange and bizarre events.” I think I was particularly taken with this description because I myself was holding onto an odd tale that I wanted to tell one day, one that I had discovered years earlier in the obituary of my great-great-grandfather, a whaling captain.
Working with three first-year students and two graduate students at Georgia State University, I oversaw the development of a self-guided walking tour that uses David Fort Godshalk’s Veiled Visions to describe the horrific events that occurred on Saturday, September 22nd, the first day of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. The tour, available for free on Emory University’s mobile-optimized OpenTour website, takes about an hour to complete and extends approximately three quarters of a mile across downtown Atlanta. The race riot raged for three days, as angry mobs stormed from downtown Atlanta to surrounding neighborhoods.