In recent reading, an intellectual examination of regional history and identity, western migration through the Pioneer Girl project, and threats to a Brutalist building that embodies the history of nuclear research at the University of Washington…
In the light of the new and growing Midwestern History Association, this post by Ben Alpers on the Society for Intellectual History’s blog (link here) made me think more deeply about the idea that the MHA wants to be a voice for an under-represented Midwestern history, but that regions are fluid, constructed identities. How do we dig into a region’s history without boxing ourselves in…?
Then there’s this new post from the Pioneer Girl Project about how people migrated to western territories in the nineteenth century. In the Pioneer Girl book, the historical story of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography creates a more populated West with “chains of family migration,” instead of the mythos of the “Totally Independent Pioneer” that her children’s books helped perpetuate. Rather than the sole wagon striking out over the prairie to an unknown destination, Rodger Hartley’s post affirms that pioneer migration was a connected network that was far more “methodical.”
I was struck by the above advocacy image on Facebook earlier this week (adorable!) for the striking Brutalist-style Nuclear Reactor Building in Washington, but I had no idea about its history until reading this post on The Secret Knowledge of Spaces. The author visited the 1961 building and has some great photos, and points those interested to the Save the Reactor website. That site has more photos of the building, a video, their advocacy efforts, and historical documents. From the Save the Reactor site:
It is a completely unique structure, and represents a specific time and way of thinking in the history of the University, and the overarching history of nuclear power. Even after standing empty for many years, the structure still speaks of the heroic aspirations of Modern architecture and its association with technological development and moving ever forward into the future.
The university that built it for their nuclear research program now wants to demo it for a new building. Why do so many universities undervalue their own history and architectural heritage? Or be selective about what history they honor. Then there’s Modern architecture getting the short shrift. Again. It’s a frustrating trend.
What are you reading?