Monument Movement: Historians Ask Who is Missing from Community Memorials

Historians in the News
tags: universities, memorials, public history

Much of the debate about monuments this summer centered on whether it is appropriate to memorialize figures from the Civil War era Confederate Army like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson or Jefferson Davis, among others.

Historians also ask a second question.

Who has not been remembered in the public space and ought to be?

Over the course of three years, Dickinson College students in the House Divided project researched the complex role of the school in slavery, culminating in a report that ultimately led to a decision by the board of trustees this spring to rename a dormitory and a gateway to the campus.

Cooper Hall, a residence hall named for Thomas Cooper, a slaveholder who taught briefly at the college, will be renamed Spradley-Young Hall to honor Henry Spradley and Robert Young. Formerly enslaved, the two men were longtime college employees who helped integrate the campus in the 19th century.

East College Gate, located on North West Street, will be renamed Pinkney Family Gate, honoring Carrie and Noah Pinkney, who were popular African-American food sellers on campus for decades in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“In Dickinson’s case, what we did was try to elevate the stories of some people who had been forgotten. We weren’t the ones erasing history. We were trying to recover people who had been erased from our history,” said Dickinson College Professor Matthew Pinsker, director of the House Divided Project and lead researcher of the Dickinson & Slavery initiative.

Pinsker said the same process could be done across the country in every community.

Read entire article at The Sentinel (Carlisle, PA)

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