BookTV: An International History of the American Civil War

Don Doyle talked about his book The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War, in which he recounts the global reaction to the Civil War. In his book, the author reports that the North and South engaged foreign diplomats to promote their cause, the North to prevent foreign interference and the South to gain support. He also said the war viewed as a test of the democratic model, with many monarchies hoping for a dissolution of the Union, which would temper other democratic movements around the world. Professor Doyle spoke with Sidney Blumenthal, former aide to President Clinton. 

C-SPAN covered this program at President Lincoln’s Cottage for BookTV. Watch online.

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Lincoln Ideas Forum 2015 Video

Notable thinkers convened at President Lincoln’s Cottage for a dynamic symposium exploring the intersection of President Lincoln’s life and legacy with contemporary issues including immigration, human trafficking, architectural phenomenology, presidential safety, and equity in education. Enjoy a video of this program:

Featured speakers for the 2015 Lincoln Ideas Forum included: Adam Goodheart of Washington College, Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris Project, Milton Shinberg, Principal Architect at Shinberg.Levinas, Jason Silverman of Winthrop University, and Brian Dixon (presidential security).

Lincoln’s Last Ride 2015 Video

Abraham Lincoln last rode out to the Soldiers’ Home on April 13 1865, one day before his assassination. We retraced Lincoln’s final commute on horseback from the White House to the Soldiers’ Home on April 13 2015, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his final visit. Horses and riders from the Fort Myer Caisson Platoon and from the Goshen Hounds Hunt club participated in this event. Enjoy this video from the program:

Following the ride, we held a public ceremony welcoming the horses and riders to the Cottage. Bonnie Morris of the Rainbow History Project read ”O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman, Garret Peck read an essay Whitman wrote about seeing Lincoln ride through the city, and sailors from the USS Abraham Lincoln laid a wreath at the statue of Lincoln and his horse.

Washington Post: 3-D imaging is preserving every bit — and byte — of history

An academic team is making a 3D scan of Abraham Lincoln's cottage at the old soldiers home, in Washington, DC.“Scholars have worked for years to bring the life of Abraham Lincoln into sharper resolution. Michael Rogers thinks he can get it within five millimeters.

The professor of physics and astronomy at Ithaca College is spending a week measuring every bit — and byte — of Lincoln’s summer cottage in Northwest Washington with a 3-D laser scanner. When he and his team of two undergraduates are done, the place where Lincoln sweated out three D.C. summers and penned the Emancipation Proclamation will take on a virtual new life.”

Read the full article at WashingtonPost.com. Photo by Bill O’Leary for the Washington Post.

Tours and Tablets

This article was originally posted on The Inkwell, the blog of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).

Early on in the initial interpretive planning process at President Lincoln’s Cottage it was determined that the best way to interpret Abraham Lincoln’s favorite place in Washington, DC was with a multimedia approach. This was achieved with flexible content throughout the house that would allow individual interpreters to use a remote control to trigger media in a given room.

This approach challenged the traditional historic house museum model as interpretive guides use their narratives skills in conjunction with supporting media systems in each room. While the combination of historical content and media support has proven a very effective educational tool, the hardware and software required to carry out this vision most effectively did not exist when the Cottage opened in 2008.

In response, work-arounds to the initial plan were developed and produced a satisfactory but not ideal solution and prohibited us from making any changes to the Cottage media — either in real time or in advance — that would help us better serve specific audiences.

Thanks to a recent grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we were able to fulfill our original vision with the introduction of a tablet based system.  With the resource-rich tablets, guides at President Lincoln’s Cottage can now curate tours of the Cottage by tailoring the tour to the needs and interests of each group in real time. An array of new features, such as crisp, high-quality visuals, audio recordings of never-before-told stories, and a dramatic presentation on wartime Washington, creates an evocative, sensory experience for visitors.

Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln's Cottage training to use new tour technology.

A Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage trains to use new tour technology.

The rich multimedia is a catalyst for conversations on Lincoln’s revolutionary ideas and how they shaped our nation.  With the new tablets, guides can pull up supplementary historical resources that support visitors’ questions and better accommodate our adult and student visitors’ various learning styles.  To me, one of the most exciting parts of this project is the snowball effect it has had on our ideas for effective interpretation.

I know there are tons of us out there working with this technology, and I’m curious what you’re doing.  Please use the comments section to share your own experiences –pros AND cons welcome and encouraged!

-Callie Hawkins, Associate Director for Programs at President Lincoln’s Cottage

PAST EVENT: “12 Years a Slave” Screening and Lecture

President Lincoln’s Cottage and the Armed Forces Retirement Home are proud to commemorate Black History Month with a FREE screening of “12 Years a Slave,” the critically-acclaimed film adaptation of Solomon Northup’s harrowing odyssey. Join us for the screening at 6:00 pm on Thursday February 27, and then return to the Cottage for a program at 1:30 pm on Friday February 28 featuring Vera Williams, Clayton Adams, and Justin Gilliam, three direct living descendants of Solomon Northup.

UPDATE: The screening and program are at capacity, and we are adding all reservations to a waiting list. Reservations required due to limited capacity. Email HMalson@savingplaces.org or call 202-829-0436 x31228 to reserve your space at the screening and/or lecture.

Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight.