2018 in review, anticipating 2019

The past year was a consequential one for me personally and professionally. Here are a few highlights from 2018 and some things that I am looking forward to in 2019.

The Talbot Avenue Bridge pop-up museum, April 21, 2018. L-R: Harvey Matthews, David Rotenstein, Rev. Ella Redfield. Photo by Charlotte Coffield.

2018 Is In The Books

  • My chapter on confronting erasure in Silver Spring’s history and historic preservation was published the volume, Demand the Impossible: Essays in History as Activism, edited by Nathan Wuertenberg and William Horne, 89–111.
  • I spoke about erasure and history at the University of Maryland (African American Studies program) and at several Silver Spring churches.
  • I was a speaker in the We Are Takoma series (Takoma, Park, Md.) and my topic was the Silver Spring Sundown Suburb.
  • The District of Columbia’s Tenley-Friendship Library branch invited me to speak about African American communities that had developed in and around Tenleytown and Chevy Chase.
  • I presented several conference papers: The Delta Symposium (Jonesboro, Ark.), The Vernacular Architecture Forum (Alexandria, Va.), the American Folklore Society (Buffalo, NY), and the DC History Conference.
  • I curated the Talbot Avenue Bridge pop-up museum in April.
  • I helped plan the Talbot Avenue Bridge Centennial Celebration.
  • My article on erasure and historic preservation in Decatur, Georgia, was accepted for publication in a special issue of the Journal of American Folklore dedicated to historic preservation.
  • I wrote blog posts for the Activist History Review, New Directions in Folklore, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  • I completed a one-year project documenting Bethesda’s River Road Moses Cemetery and presented the results to the descendant community and to government agencies in Montgomery County and the District of Columbia.
  • My article, “Erasing and Reclaiming History: A Delta Photo Essay,” was published in Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies.
  • I completed archival research projects for clients in Georgia, Montgomery County, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • I was invited to be on a master’s thesis committee for Goucher University historic preservation student.
  • Finally, I finished four years of comparative data research for my book on erasure and displacement in Decatur, Georgia. This research on how Silver Spring produces history and historic preservation led to the Talbot Avenue Bridge work and to the programs on erasure and the Silver Spring Sundown Suburb done as part of the Invisible Montgomery project.

Big Plans for 2019

  • The year begins with two articles out for review in academic journals. They both deal with erasure and racialized history and historic preservation.
  • I will be revisiting my work on leather and meatpacking in Pennsylvania, including work on two encyclopedia articles and another article on Pittsburgh’s leather industry.
  • I will be hunkering down and finishing the Decatur book.
  • After being out of the academe for nearly a decade I will be hitting the bricks looking for some adjunct teaching gigs.
  • I will be doing more fieldwork in the Mississippi River Delta region.
  • I am working with colleagues planning the 2019 American Folklore Society meeting in Baltimore.

Happy New Year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2019.

— David

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