Data and Methodology
THE TEXTURE OF MEMORY (1993)
"IF SOCIETIES REMEMBER, IT IS ONLY INSOFAR AS THEIR INSTITUTIONS AND RITUALS ORGANIZE, SHAPE, EVEN INSPIRE THEIR CONSTITUENTS' MEMORIES... THEY CANNOT SHARE ANOTHER'S MEMORY...THEY SHARE INSTEAD THE FORMS OF MEMORY."
While it would be impossible to collect all forms of public memory in the South, the DASM presents several narratives that exist there, for which there are reliable data, and displays them in a way that encourages interaction and reflection. I’ve captured the forms of memory in their physical space, showcasing at once the constraints of physical memorials and their endurance and “stickiness” in cultural memory.
The map is rendered in ArcGIS and uses multiple data sources: Census TIGER/Line 2017 shapefiles of all roads (primary, secondary and local) at the county level in the United States; U.S. Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics 2012-2013 public schools database; and a crowdsourced online database of over 15,000 historic markers, Read The Plaque (this last layer still in progress as of March 2018).
My regional categorization of the South includes the former states of the Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
I parsed the data using search strings of names of key figures in the Civil Rights Movement and the Confederate Army, as well as former U.S. presidents. The list of Confederate names is based on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s mapping of similar data. The list of Civil Rights Movement names is based on my own scholarship and consultation with historians specializing in the subject. In many cases, I further filtered the results manually beyond the below strings to eliminate false positives (like “PondeRosa Parks”).
Some key points on what’s included: certainly, there are missing sites as well as incorrectly-categorized sites here. “Lee” is a common name, so unless it was accompanied by some kind of first name indicating Robert E. Lee, or independently verified by the Southern Poverty Law Center, I did not include it. I did the same for many other names – Zachary Taylor, Claudette Colvin, and Lyndon Johnson, to name a few. Further, if there was any obvious reason to believe that a site with a certain name may not commemorate the person I had in mind, I did not include it. For example, I kept “Forrest Rd,” which often does reference Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, but I removed “Country Forrest Rd” and “Forrest Oaks Lane.” Many roads and schools are named after the county they’re in; often, these counties are named for historic figures. I welcome all corrections; if you know, for example, that your local school is named for a different Jefferson, get in touch.
Here are the search strings I used:
Martin Luther King|Rosa Parks|M L King|M.L. King|Thurgood Marshall|Ralph David Abernathy|Ralph Abernathy|R Abernathy|R D Abernathy|Coretta Scott|Coretta King|Medgar Evers|Malcolm X|Shuttlesworth|Hosea Williams|Emmett Till|Jesse Jackson|Marcus Garvey|James Meredith|Fannie Hamer|Fannie Lou Hamer|Lou Hamer|F Hamer|F L Hamer|Claudette Colvin|James Forman|J Forman|John Lewis |J Lewis|John Robert Lewis|John R Lewis|A Philip Randolph|Asa Philip Randolph|Phillip Randolph|Philip Randolph|James Farmer|Bayard Rustin|Roy Wilkins|Dorothy Height|Dorothy Irene Height|Joseph Lowery|Joseph E Lowery|Echols Lowery|J Lowery|Jimmie Lee Jackson|Lemuel Penn|Andrew Young
Jefferson Davis|Jeff Davis|J Davis|Robert E Lee|R E Lee|R Lee|Stonewall Jackson|Confederate|Rebel|Beauregard|Bedford Forrest|Nathan Forrest|Forrest|Albert Sidney|John Reagan|Joseph E Johnston|Joseph Johnston|Joe Johnston|J Reagan|J B Stuart|Jeb Stuart|J E B Stuart|Braxton Bragg|Bragg|James Longstreet|George Pickett|G Pickett|William T Anderson|John Mosby|A P Hill|Ewell|Jubal Early|Jubal Anderson Early|Kirby Smith|Bell Hood|J B Hood| JB Hood|Armistead|Porter Alexander|Quantrell|Cleburne|Pettigrew|Slidell|Robert Toombs|Toombs|Thomas Overby|W T Overby|C M Winkler|McLaws|Bolivar Buckner|S B Buckner|John Morgan|J H Morgan|Hunt Morgan|James L Kemper|Earl Van Dorn|Magruder|Samuel Garland|Joseph Wheeler|John D Imboden|J D Imboden|Nicholls|William J Hardee|W J Hardee|William Hardee|John A Logan|Joseph E Brown|Joseph Brown|J A Logan
George Washington|G Washington|John Adams|Thomas Jefferson|T Jefferson|Jefferson|James Madison|James Monroe|J Monroe|J Madison|J Madison|John Quincy Adams|J Q Adams|JQ Adams|Andrew Jackson|Van Buren|William Henry Harrison|W H Harrison|John Tyler|James Knox Polk|James Polk|James K Polk|J Polk|J K Polk|Zachary Taylor|Z Taylor|Millard Fillmore|Franklin Pierce|M Fillmore|F Pierce|James Buchanan|J Buchanan|Abraham Lincoln|Lincoln|Andrew Johnson|A Johnson|Ulysses Simpson Grant|U S Grant |Ulysses Grant |Rutherford B Hayes|R B Hayes|James A Garfield|J A Garfield|James Abram Garfield|Chester Alan Arthur|Chester Arthur|James Garfield|Chester A Arthur|C A Arthur|Grover Cleveland|G Cleveland|B Harrison|Benjamin Harrison|W McKinley|William McKinley|Roosevelt|William Howard Taft|W H Taft|William H Taft|WH Taft|Woodrow Wilson|W A Wilson|Woodrow A Wilson|Warren Gamaliel Harding|Warren G Harding|W G Harding|Warren Harding|Calvin Coolidge|C Coolidge|Calvin A Coolidge|Herbert Hoover|H Hoover|Truman|Eisenhower|John F Kennedy|John Kennedy|J F Kennedy|JF Kennedy|John Fitzgerald Kennedy|JFK|L B Johnson|Lyndon Johnson|Lyndon B Johnson|LBJ|Lyndon Baines Johnson|Richard Nixon|R Nixon|Gerald Ford|G Ford|G R Ford|Jimmy Carter|J Carter|James Earl Carter|R Reagan|Ronald Reagan|G W Bush|George Bush|George W Bush|George H W Bush|George Herbert Walker Bush|W J Clinton|William Jefferson Clinton|Bill Clinton|Obama|President
Who is the Atlas for?
While any individual or group is encouraged to use the DASM, I intend the full participatory platform to directly serve museums, historical societies, arts organizations and community groups who wish to have a framework for facilitating engaging and productive conversations around issues of history, memory and identity.
Indeed, these passionate discussions are happening across America but are currently not being preserved in any meaningful and collective way. Americans are eager to participate in commemorative action and get historical context for the commemorative landscape around them; this map is for them. Museums and community organizations are eager to engage their audiences and fill that need; this map is for them, too. Institutions can host events around the questions that the map brings up, promote crowdsourcing efforts to add context to the map, or create a new memorial as a group.
We are living in an era of "memorial mania," as characterized by historian Erika Doss – a time when memorials crop up daily and debates roil about who and what should be remembered, in what context. At the same time, digital tools have evolved to offer new avenues for communication, broadly accessible by most Americans. It is essential to seize this current moment, when momentum around memorialization and technological fluency have both reached a peak, and intervene in the granite-and-bronze hierarchy of commemorative practice.
In the American Association for State and Local History's “Guide to Making Public History,” historian Bob Beatty says commemoration “is one of the best weapons in our arsenal as public historians. And it is something our public expects from us.” If that is the case – and I agree it is – then we ought to take this moment to explore the full potential for what a digital form can bring, anew, to an outdated practice of public history, especially at the local and family level. That means developing widespread opportunities for participation, cultivating an appreciation for popular interests and values, and exhibiting a respect for the stories of the past as well as the stories of the present. Harnessing the power of digital methods and practices to this end is a cause well worth pursuing.
Sources and Relevant Reading
Beatty, Bob ed. The American Association for State and Local History Guide to Making Public History. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.
Bruggeman, Seth, ed. Commemoration: The American Association for State and Local History Guide. Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.
Brundage, W. Fitzhugh. “Contentious and Collected: Memory’s Future in Southern History.” The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 75, No. 3, August 2009.
Cobb, James C. 2006. Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity. Oxford University Press.
Corning, Amy and Howard Schuman. Generations and Collective Memory. University of
Chicago Press, 2015.
Doss, Erika. Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.
Johnson, Nuala C. “Mapping monuments: the shaping of public space and cultural identities.” Visual Communication Review, Vol. 1 (3), 2002.
Kammen, Michael. Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture. Vintage Press, 1993. 3.
Klibanoff, Caroline. “Public Memory and Street Names in the South: Who Gets Remembered?” Medium.com, June 27 2017.
Linenthal, Edward. “Struggling with History and Memory.” The Journal of American History, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Dec., 1995), pp. 1094-1101.
Sacco, Nick. “America’s ever-changing commemorative landscape: a case study at National Statuary Hall.” National Council on Public History. June 20, 2017.
Savage, Kirk. “History, Memory, and Monuments: An Overview of the Scholarly Literature on Commemoration.” Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service, 2006.
Wallace-Sanders, Kimberly. “Southern Memory, Southern Monuments, and the Subversive Black Mammy.” Southern Spaces, June 15 2009.
Wilson, Charles Reagan. Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause 1865-1920. University of Georgia Press, 1980.
Young, James. The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. Yale University Press, 1993.