As of this morning, we’ve heard back from 20 of the 45 park units selected and contacted. Not a bad response rate so far!
Also, the energy, interest, and enthusiasm in these responses is heartening.
Here’s one case in point: Superintendent Rolf Diamant at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. At first glance, this park — and the state of Vermont in general — probably wouldn’t immediately jump to mind in reference to the Civil War era, but it now should. And our project can help!
What Superintendent Diamant and his staff have created is a series of compelling programs and media that use the people, places, and issues of Civil War-era Woodstock, Vermont to interpret the wartime home front. If not the only park in the NPS that is doing so, it is certainly leading the pack.
Superintendent Diamant sent several helpful documents, including the walking tour brochure Causes and Consequences: The Civil War Home Front in Woodstock, Vermont, a brochure from the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission entitled Homefront & Battlefront: Vermont, the Nation, & Civil War, and the DVD Woodstock’s Civil War: A Speakchorus (pictured at left). He also connected us to the The Civil War Book of Days, a project of the Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and the Vermont Humanities Council.
This information will be (and probably already is) of great use to Mary and her theme The Civilian Experience, as it provides the Big Picture, the local connection, and a window into the tangibles available in the park. Hopefully, it will also make connecting with park staff easier and efficient. A big thanks to Superintendent Diamant for his support of our project.
As another example (and as you’ve probably also seen) NPS staff members and others have begun commenting directly on your theme pages. For examples, check out the post of Ahna Jones, Historian at the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, over at the Industry & Economics theme page, and that of J.M. Rudy, a contributor to the blog Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public, over at The Ordeal of the Border States theme page.
As others of you are finding, too, many of the parks we’ve selected are quick to provide support, advice, and specific staff contacts. I’ll be following up with those parks that haven’t yet responded, but so far those parks that have responded have set the bar pretty high!
Do others of you have initial experiences or contacts you’d like to share? If so, please do so in the comments section below.