Diversifying Historic Sites

Solicited by the National Collaborative for Women's History Sites and Coordinating Council for Women's History. 

Endorsed by the OAH Committee on National Park Service Collaboration, the OAH Membership Committee, the Western History Association, the Oral History Association, and the Society for History in the Federal Government

Friday, April 16, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Gender; Public History and Memory; Race


The inequalities that shaped the history of the United States are often replicated in the places designated as historic homes, monuments, and parks. In recent decades, various groups have promoted the diversification of historic sites throughout the United States. Senior staff, volunteers, and scholars from Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the Abraham Lincoln and W. E. B. Du Bois homesteads, a French colonial settlement on the Mississippi River, and a mining town in Calumet, Michigan, will offer vivid examples of how to diversify the stories we tell and address issues critical to such transformative projects.

Session Participants

Chair: Eola Lewis Dance, National Park Service, Howard University, U.S./diaspora, slavery & freedom
Eola Dance is the Cultural Anthropologist for the National Capital Region of the National Park Service (NPS). She received her B.A. (2001) at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rougel her M.A. (2004) in Art and Design and Historic Preservation at Savannah College, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in History/African Diaspora at Howard University. Throughout her graduate work, Dance has worked in a variety of positions with the NPS. Before moving to her current position, she served as a Park Ranger at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C. (2001-2008); Supervising Park Ranger at the Maggie Lena Walker National Historic Site (2008-2010); Cultural Resources Specialist at National Capital Parks, 2010-2012; Chief of Visitor Services and Resource Management at Fort Monroe National Monument, 2012-2014; and Northeast Program Manager for the National Underground Rail Road Network to Freedom, 2014-2016. Dance collaborates with diverse groups and organizations in directing and preparing ethnographic reports and special studies related to NPS sites and exhibits. She has presented talks at the OAH, the AHA, Southern Labor Studies Association Conference, the Society for Applied Anthropology, the United Nations NGO Annual Meeting, ad the African American Association of Museums.

Panelist: Lesley Barker, Director Kentucky Faith & Public History Education Project
Dr. Lesley Barker works as a consultant to museums and non-profit organizations. Her extensive experience in grant writing, strategic planning, research, teaching, editing, and historic site administration provides her with an array of skills and insights. After receiving a B.A. (1982) in Sociology at Washington University, St. Louis, Barker worked in children's services and battered women's shelters. She returned to school receiving her M.A. in Teaching (2002), after which she taught in the St. Louis Public Schools and worked as a grant writer and strategic consultant to non-profits. In 2009, she hired as Executive Director of the Bolduc House Museum in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, part of an 18th-century French settlement on the Mississippi River. During her seven-year tenure at Bolduc House, Barker oversaw a major interpretive transformation that focused on inter-cultural encounters in the region. She and her team researched the experiences of indigenous people, African Americans and women in the area and their interactions with French colonists at Bolduc House. Her leadership of this effort included persuading the Board of Directors and donors that such a transformation was both necessary and beneficial to the site. Barker left Bolduc House Museum in 2016 to pursue a Ph.D. in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, which she received in 2018. She has presented talks on her work at various conferences, including the Literature, Slavery and Memory conference in Paris, the University of Iceland, the Small Museum Association Conference, and the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.

Proposal Submitter Only: Nancy Ann Hewitt

Panelist: Heather A. Huyck, National Collaborative for Women's History Sites
Dr. Heather Huyck has extensive expertise working in and with the National Park Service and other historic sites over the past five decades. She will discuss creative and effective ways to build diverse and varied communities of people to research, preserve and interpret the past. Author of the recently published Doing Women’s History in Public: A Handbook for Museums and Historic Sites, she will discuss key interpretive tools useful in many settings.

Panelist: Diana R. Pardue, Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island
Diana Pardue is the Chief of the Museum Division at the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, National Park Service (NPS). She oversees the management of the museum collection, exhibits and media program, research library, and oral history program. As part of this work, she has forged ties with American Indian, African American and ethnic communities as well as women historically linked to these sites. Pardue began working for the NPS in the Chief Historian’s office, and worked on museum projects at various NPS sites throughout the US before moving to her current position. Pardue has been involved internationally with the development of new migration museums, migration exhibits and public programs. She has worked with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and has been active in the planning and development of public dialogue programs on US immigration with local universities and international historic site members. Pardue is also an active member of the American Association of Museums (AAM) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Formerly the Co-Chair of ICOM-US and Chair of the International Committee of Architecture and Museum Techniques (ICAMT), she is currently a member of the Executive Board of ICOM and a member of the Working Group on Sustainability.

Panelist: Camesha Scruggs, Univesity of Massachusetts Amherst
Camesha Scruggs served as a Cultural Resources Diversity Intern at the Abraham Lincoln Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois in Summer 2008 and 2009, as Team Member at the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project in Richmond, Virginia in Summer 2016, and as a Site Guide at the W. E. B. DuBois National Historic Site in Great Barrington, Massachusetts from 2016-2018. She received her B.A.(2009) and M.A.(2013) in History at Texas Southern University and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, focusing on African American History, Gender and Empire, and modern U.S. History. Scruggs has presented papers at the Looking for Lincoln Lecture Series in Springfield, the American Historical Association, the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, the National Council on Public History, and the Southern Association for Women's Historians. She has also served as a teaching assistant at UMass, Amherst and an Adjunct Instructor at Holyoke Community College and Elms College in western Massachusetts.