Author Archive

 

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Tiya Miles is the author of two books, a monograph called The House on Diamond Hill and a novel called The Cherokee Rose.

“Whenever I visit antebellum homes in the South, with their spacious rooms, their grand staircases, their shaded back windows that, without the thickly planted trees, would look out onto the now vanished slave quarters in the back, this is invariably my thought. I stand in the backyard gazing up at the windows, then stand at the windows inside looking down into the backyard, and between the me that is on the ground and the me that is at the windows, History is caught.” -- Alice Walker, quoted in The House on Diamond Hill

In 2011, Tiya Miles was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant for her work connecting the histories of African and Cherokee people in Colonial America. I heard Miles speak this past spring at the National Council on Public History annual meeting in Nashville where she described the challenges of translating her historical monograph (a book that is based on a single subject) on the Chief Vann House into a fictional novel.

The monograph, The House on Diamond Hill, examines the racial and social complexities of Cherokee Chief James Vann’s plantation in Diamond Hill, Georgia, from its construction in the 19th century, through Cherokee removal in the 1830s, and  up to its transformation into a historic site in the 1950s. The second book, The Cherokee Rose, is a fictional account of a similar house.

The novel uses the home and its history to make connections between individual’s different interpretations of the past. Both books serve as a means to emphasize that history is not linear or finite. That multiple perspectives shift the way race, gender, and politics interact with one another on the ground.

In both books, “history is caught” and translated deftly by Miles in a way that is at times both recognizable and strange -- but also important to telling the whole story of this period in American history. I recently interviewed her to learn more about her work and her process in writing The Cherokee Rose.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

 

Open seasonally, the Philip Johnson Glass House offers tours, special events, and related programming to the public. Visitors can join them for the 2013 season beginning May 2. Credit: diametrik, Flickr
The Glass House is best understood as a pavilion for viewing the surrounding landscape. It ushered the International Style into residential American architecture.

As preservationists, we talk a lot about the power of place -- modern places, beautiful places, places of conscience, and sacred places. Sometimes these places are centered on a single structure -- a building where someone lived, worked, played, or died.

But there is one more way in which places can be powerful: context. It is by walking around and through these buildings that visitors are taken back in time. And in sharing that space, that context, visitors are linked with those who came before.

Early this summer we asked staff from the National Trust’s Historic Sites to tell us about their favorite objects. For some it was a specific item or a piece of art, but for three of our Historic Sites, the Glass House, Brucemore, and Touro Synagogue, the power of the place was front and center.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

 

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A Praxinoscope (a successor to the zoetrope) at Monterey State Historic Park (Cooper Molera).

Take a look around you. Pick up the first object you see. What is it? What can it be used for? When was it created? Does it have personal meaning to you, or is it an everyday object that serves an important function?

These are just a few of the questions historians ask of every piece of their collection. Individually these objects tell a specific segment of a story; collectively they illustrate a life. Whether the object is a sculpture or a slave brand, the answers they give links the past with the present, providing connective tissue between the visitor and the people who lived and worked at that historic site.

Where National Trust staff from our 27 historic sites recently took a look at four different pieces of art, this week we turn our attention to three-dimensional objects at Montpelier, President Lincoln’s Cottage, President Woodrow Wilson’s House, Acoma Sky City, Chesterwood, Monterey State Historic Park (Cooper Molera), Villa Finale, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and Drayton Hall. Where the paintings last week were objects we engaged with only through sight, the set of objects in our next video take us a step further.

Do you have a particular object you love at your favorite historic site?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

 

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Paintings on the wall at Lyndhurst, a National Trust Historic Site in Tarrytown, New York.

When you visit a historic site what do you notice first -- the building, the artwork, or an artifact? All three of these serve as tangible links between individual lives and the past. They tell stories and breathe life into a history detailed between the cover of a book.

Objects make history real. So it's only natural that those who work in historic sites find themselves drawn to particular images, objects, and buildings that help tell the story of their place -- favorite pieces that illustrate or open gateways to the broader story at the historic site.

This past spring a group of National Trust staff members got together to talk about interpretation and education at our 27 historic sites. They not only shared with us why historic sites matter, but they also took a minute to tell us what their favorite object is and why. ... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

Photo Essay: Why Do Old Places Matter?

Posted on: May 13th, 2015 by Priya Chhaya

 

Santa Sabina, Rome. Photo by Nick Thompson via Flickr
Santa Sabina in Rome is an example of how a place can inspire awe and reflection.

In 2013 Tom Mayes, deputy general counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was selected as a winner of the Rome Prize, which is awarded to about 30 emerging artists and scholars who represent the highest standard of excellence.

When he isn’t working on legal complexities, Mayes has been considering the role historic places play in everyday life. This prestigious award sent him to Rome on a six-month tour of discovery where he sought to answer the question: Why do old places matter? This photo essay presents Mayes’ answers along with links to longer posts on the Preservation Leadership Forum blog that explore the answers in more depth.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.

 

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Beverly Jenkins is a romance and women's fiction author's whose novels have a powerful connection to the past. She will be featured in the forthcoming film "Love Between the Covers."

When Beverly Jenkins first started writing romance and women's fiction, she intended to have an audience of one -- herself. Thirty-one books later, Jenkins is known for introducing readers to little known histories of African-Americans in the 19th century amid tales of complicated and strong heroines and the men who they grow to love.

While her books are set in a variety of places -- from a small town in Kansas named after Henry Adams (a former slave and solider who testified in front of Congress on black migration), to the plains of Oklahoma or frontier towns in California -- Jenkins emphasizes that history is not just window dressing but rather an integral part of the narrative.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.