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The History Workshop Creates Combahee Ferry Raid Traveling Exhibit

Aug 01, 2013

Born into slavery around 1820, Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom in 1849 with the help of the Underground Railroad.  Ms. Tubman's efforts with the Underground Railroad helping to free other enslaved people is well known, making her one of America's most famous abolitionists. Less well known, however, is that Ms. Tubman worked for the Union Army as a scout and spy during the Civil War. A new traveling exhibit produced by the History Workshop highlights the fascinating story of Harriet Tubman and the Combahee River Raid, one of the largest emancipation events in American history. During the raid, which took place in 1863, the Union Army attacked rice plantations along the Combahee River in South Carolina, before departing with 700 slaves aboard their gunboats.

Beautifully illustrated and concisely written, the large exhibit panel views the raid on Combahee River from multiple angles, from the thoughts of a wealthy rice plantation owner's son, to the history of the Combahee River as an important transportation node. The exhibit effectively explains Harriet Tubman's critical role in spreading word of the raid to slaves working on Combahee River plantations, and then leading the gunboats on the momentous night in June, 1863.

The 10 x 8 foot exhibit panel is double-sided, free-standing, and meant to travel. The exhibit project was funded by the South Carolina Department of Transportation, and is available for loan.  If you would like to request the exhibit for your school, library, or museum, please contact Chad C. Long, SCDOT, at, or (803)-737-1396.

History Workshop Helps Charleston Honor Black Civil War Soldiers

Jul 23, 2013

Carol Poplin and John Cason, of Brockington's History Workshop division, were honored to take part in a special project of the mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley, that was unveiled at the historic Battery on July 21, 2013. The Sunday ceremony was to recognize and commemorate the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, an all-black unit in the Civil War. This unit attacked the Confederate outpost of Battery Wagner on nearby Morris Island in 1863, at a time when people questioned whether African Americans could fight.  The bravery of these Massachusetts Volunteers spurred the recruitment and acceptance of black soldiers into the Union Army, leading to greater numbers of enlisted Union men and a tactical advantage for the Federal side. 

An interpretive board describing the events at Battery Wagner and the actions of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, which was designed by the History Workshop, was showcased by Mayor Riley during the event. Read more about the historic ceremony here:

Meagan Brady Talks Archaeology with Summer Campers

Jul 22, 2013

Meagan Brady, the laboratory supervisor for our Atlanta office, was invited to talk to kids at Camp Bulloch this past week.  The annual summer camp is hosted by historic Bulloch Hall in Roswell, Georgia, which was the childhood home of Theodore Roosevelt's mother, Mittie Bulloch.

The Camp Bulloch "Rough Riders," a group of 6-10 year-olds, were able to handle and sort real artifacts, just like Meagan does in the lab. In a second activity, they learned more about archaeology in the most delicious way possible, with chocolate chip cookies!  In the "cookie excavation" activity, kids were asked to carefully excavate chocolate chips from their cookies with toothpicks, in a way that is similar to how archaeologists try to carefully remove artifacts from the ground. The activity encourages forethought and patience (will you break one chip to get at another?).  The activity also demonstrates how archaeologists don't just "dig" in the ground, they excavate using precise methods. Of course, the campers were able to enjoy their cookie sites at the end of the lesson!

Carolyn Rock Featured for Volunteer Work at Pauper Cemetery

Jun 17, 2013

Carolyn Rock was recently featured in an Atlanta Journal Constitution article discussing her work at a St. Marys cemetery.  Located near the well-known Oak Grove Cemetery is separate a 1.73-acre plot of land that was used for the burial of indigents, criminals, and enslaved people since the 18th century. As with many pauper cemeteries, records of the burials and maps of the plots at this cemetery are scarce or non-existent. The last burial that took place at the pauper's cemetery is believed to have been in 1912, of an executed murderer. 

The number and location of burials at the pauper cemetery is unknown, but work is currently underway to try to answer these basic questions. Carolyn Rock, an archaeologist with our Savannah office, is assisting two local groups, the Guale Historical Society and the Bryan Lang Archives, who have been interested in learning more about the cemetery.  After to speaking to Rachel Black and the Georgia State Historic Preservation Office, Ms. Rock determined that the best way to search for any potential graves was to use a soil probe to test the density of the ground surface. Soil above a grave will usually feel less dense, or looser, than ground that has not been disturbed. Ground penetrating radar, or GPR, which is often used to research unmarked graves, could not be conducted here due to the number of trees and undergrowth on the property.

Ms. Rock is volunteering her time on the project, and expects that it will take several more weekend's worth of systematic probing before a fuller picture of the number and placement of the burials begins to emerge. We congratulate Carolyn on her efforts to help the local community understand more about St. Marys past.

The History Workshop attends the American Alliance of Museums Conference

Jun 06, 2013

The History Workshop was well represented by Carol Poplin and Callie McLean at the 2013 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) meeting in Baltimore, Maryland. This is one of the largest conferences associated with museums and museum professionals, and this year's meeting included more than 5,000 people representing more than 50 countries. Carol and Callie met many of these folks at the History Workshop booth, which was focused on how our museum and content experts can help you to tell your story. The History Workshop booth followed the overall theme of the 2013 AAM meeting, which was "The Power of Story." Both Carol and Callie felt the conference was very successful this year, and look forward to the 2014 meeting.

Lowcountry Oral History Alliance meeting at Brockington

May 06, 2013

On May 8, 2013 the Lowcountry Oral History Alliance will hold their quarterly meeting at Brockington and Associates Mt. Pleasant Office. Charles Philips, Oral Historian in the Charleston Office, is a member of the association and will host the event. The meeting will feature Dr. Seth Kotch as speaker. Dr. Kotch is the Digital Humanities Coordinator at UNC-Chapel Hills Southern Oral History Program. 

The organization is opened to those interested in advancing the discipline of oral history in the Lowcountry.

You can keep up with the activities of the Lowcountry Oral History Alliance by visiting their Facebook page at:

Georgia's Historic Preservation Division Honors A Brockington Project

May 03, 2013

Brockington was pleased to learn that the Georgia Historic Preservation Division (HPD) chose to feature one of our recent projects in the April, 2013 edition their online magazine Preservation Posts.  The project was a popular history of Fort McPherson written by Cameron Sexton, an accomplished historian in our Atlanta office. Titled "The Building of a Worthy Post: The History of Fort McPherson," HPD recommends the book as engaging, concise, and visually appealing, and states that the work is "worth a read!"

Fort McPherson is an historic Army installation in southwest Atlanta that was scheduled to be closed in 2011 as part of the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment and Commission (BRAC). The base closure, and planned sale out of government ownership, was deemed likely to have an effect on the 75 historic buildings at Fort McPherson. For this reason, the Federal government was obligated, under US cultural resource laws, to document the buildings and the history of the base. Ms. Sexton's book was designed to make this history understandable and engaging for members of the public, who could then benefit from the effects of the BRAC proceedings.

Given the praise from HPD, Ms. Sexton clearly succeeded in the providing a benefit to the public, as well as to the history of the US military in the Southeast.  The book is available in several public libraries, and online in its entirety here.

Gaillard Auditorium Project Lecture

May 02, 2013

Brockington Archaeologist Eric Poplin gave a lecture about the recent archaeological excavations at the Gaillard Auditorium construciton site on May 1, 2013 at the Charleston County Library. Back in February, workers found evidence of human burials in an excavation trench. The City of Charleston contacted Eric to confirm the remains were human and to assemble a plan to find and remove all of the people buried in this portion of the construction site. Eric and the Brockington team removed 37 adults, teenagers, and children believed to have lived in Charleston between 1690 and 1750.  Public interest in this project has been extensive. The lecture gave residents the opportunity to catch up with the latest project news. For more information go to

New Interactive Hedekin Field Story Map

Apr 22, 2013

Gitisha Goel, a Brockington GIS and Graphics Specialist, and Clara Nguyen, our Designer and Web Specialist, recently completed a Story Map for Hedekin Field at Fort McPherson, an historic US Army military base in Atlanta, Georgia. Hedekin Field (Parade Field) is part of the oldest section of Fort McPherson that includes Staff Row and the Old Post Area. Hedekin Field includes 40 buildings that were constructed between 1891 and 1910, and have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historic district. The buildings, arranged in orderly rows surrounding the Parade Field, include mess halls and quarters for officers and enlisted men. In 2012, as part of work done in conjunction with Base Realignment and Closure, Brockington completed an update of the National Register listing that expanded the historic district.

The Story Map created by Ms. Goel and Ms. Nguyen provides a new way for the public to view, learn about, and understand the historic military landscape at Hedekin Field.  Story Maps, published by GIS software company ESRI,  combine web maps with web applications and templates that can incorporate a range of information and media. The interactive map created for Hedekin Field allows users to view an historic map and modern aerial of the area, and by clicking on individual buildings, see historic and modern images of the building side-by-side. A brief history of each building is also provided, including the building's age, size, and purpose.

Easy to use, attractive, and interactive, Story Maps are great new outreach tool for culture resource management and historic preservation professionals to share information about historic places that may be inaccessible to members of the public.  They can also display time depth in a way that can be difficult to understand when viewing a static modern environment. Ms. Goel is looking forward to presenting the Hedekin Field Story Map at the ESRI Southeast User Conference from April 29-May 1, 2013, in Jacksonville, Florida.

To interact with the Hedekin Field Story Map, go to

Lyon Family Farm Public Archaeology

Apr 06, 2013

On April 6, 2013, Alicia Sullivan of Brockington and Associates, Inc., and her son, Austin, took part in an open-to-the-public archaeological dig on the historic site of Lyon Family Farm, located in the National Heritage Area in Arabia Mountain Park. The farm is considered an original settler house and was founded around 1800 by a Revolutionary War soldier on land ceded by the Creek Nation. Volunteers, along with state archaeologists and historians, gathered at the official state dig to continue to search the grounds for evidence of slave cabins at a location documented in Lyon family history. During the four-hour session, over thirty volunteers and professionals worked two separate areas to try and find historic and possible prehistoric remnants of past inhabitants of the land. Alicia and Austin took turns carefully digging layers of soil that was placed into buckets then run through a quarter-inch mesh screen. Some of the artifacts discovered included ceramic sherds, nails, window glass, and other fragments of objects that were placed into plastic bags for categorization. The Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, in partnership with the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, offers these open to the public sessions twice a year, in spring and fall. It is a great experience and a wonderful opportunity for the public to try actual, hands-on archaeology.

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