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A student-led group project from HIST 246

New Google Doc

April 27th, 2011 by Craig Labbate

Hey Guys,

Here is the link to the new Google Doc for us to consolidate all the Map Point Descriptions



Blog Post 12

April 21st, 2011 by rjh4

This week I have been gathering all relevant geodata through the use of a Garman GPSmap 60Sx hand held unit. This allows us to get the exact location of the relevant site within less than 6ft, under ideal locations. I will continue to gather this information until we have a complete profile of Dick Dowling’s legacy in Houston. I intend to go to the ARCHgis software next and impute all of my data and begin building the base of the map.
It is part of human nature to remember the past and celebrate the people who came before you. By ignoring the past you are ignoring yourself, I think that it is essential for us to remember the Civil War for what we believe it was about. I find it hard to believe that there will ever be a clear consensus about what the Civil War, or War Between the States, means to each and every person, Northerner and Southerner. Horwitz poses an interesting question in asking: “[is there] any way for white Southerners to honor their [Confederate] forebears without insulting” [black Southerners?]”
To answer this I think that it is necessary to examine how Southerners perceive the War Between the States. Like it or not many believe that the War Between the States was not just fought over slavery, but for a magnitude of wide sweeping reasons. To make the claim that the Civil War was simply about slavery alienates many people from the South. Southerners have a strong heritage, and are taught about their histories from such a young age. This is seen on page 36 of Howitz’s essay when he discusses the “Children of the Confederacy,” where southern children are taught about their legacy in the Civil War.
A common theme through this essay is how each Southerner remembers the Civil War, or the War Between the States as they call it. When Horwitz asked Sue about remembering the Civil War she replied “The answer is family…Northerners say ‘Forget the War, it’s over.’ But they don’t have the family Bibles we do, filled with all these Kinfolk who went to war and died. We’ve lost so much.” (p. 26) Others motivations for supporting the memory of the Confederacy are expressed on Page 35 where Howitz deals with the mystery held by the Civil War stating, “The present… holds no mystery… the past does.” (P 35) Other men such as Hawkins state that they celebrate the legacy of the Civil War because “it brings people together, like the War did.” (P29)
It is a common theme that Southerners are remembering the war for the right reasons, not the bad. Why should we stand in the way of this? No one interviewed for Horwitz’s book expressed a need to celebrate the institution of slavery. Southerners as a whole do not believe the war was solely about slavery, and as a result do not celebrate slavery today. If Southerners today celebrate the good of the war, why should any one take offence? Blacks today should not be at odds with the celebration of the ideals of heritage, unity, duty, honor or courage. This is what we must celebrate when we remember the War Between the States. Celebrate the men who fought and died for us because they did so for their families, and their states. Remember the heroic actions and good of these Soldiers, do not condemn or forget them because of the evils of the institution of Southern Slavery.

For lack of witty title — blog post 12

April 20th, 2011 by Craig Labbate

An appropriate, even if it’s not comprehensive way to commemorate the Civil War, is to concentrate on “the great men” such as Robert E. Lee’s Tomb Dedication in Lexington 1883. The dedication speech was dedicated not to Lee’s crushing blows to Union armies or his defense of slavery. On the contrary he uses one of Lee’s quotes : “Mr. Blair I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union.  But how can I draw my sword against Virginia?” – to indirectly urge southerners to commemorate the Civil War as a sectionalist conflict.  While I am not personally wooed by the “Lost Cause” — it neglects to mention the role of slavery in causing the Civil War – it is perhaps the best wide scale remembrance because it omits race tensions without rearing the ugly head of race prejudice that existed during the war.  Despite the almost universal omission of race in the Lost Cause sentiment, it does not prevent modern critics from imposing their own lens on the issue. For example, the statue of Robert E Lee in Richmond, erected 1890, was seen by contemporaries in one way and yet another by modern art historians. The modern art scholar Kirk savage proclaims Lee’s statue to be ”a model of leadership for a white supremacist society trying to legitimate its own authority…it could bridge the old regime of slavery and the new regime of white rule without representing either.” In stark contrast, a contemporary at the ceremony explained the statue in a military context in which Lee was a conquering general and the object of soldiers’ adoration. This little anecdote goes to show that any  physical commemoration can be “spun” to support any group’s aims.

Better yet, I believe what Horwitz stumbled upon in his essay “Cats of the Confederacy” shows us perhaps the best local remembrance of Civil War ancestors — the practice of genealogy.  Horwitz comes upon the town of Salisbury, NC  and its obsession by its Civil War forebears even though the town was merely a rural outpost during the war. Everyone collects the war’s memorabilia.  Mike Hawkins, the poor color sergeant of the SCV, evokes the tie the town has with its past by saying “It’s been seven years, but when I find [my great-great-grandfather’s (a confederate veteran) grave I’ll feel like I’ve finally accomplished something…a connection with my past.”  By exploiting personal connection to the Civil War, modern Southerners [ 25% of whom descend from veterans] can commemorate the war through their kin’s sacrifice. HOWEVER, Horwitz points out a very negative consequence of this view of the war through personal connections. Their personal study makes the citizen’s biased. They begin to distort history by viewing it through a rose lens. Despite having previously said that most locals during the Civil War didn’t own slaves and rebelled in light of perceived government persecution, a man let racial prejudices creep into his historical argument and said “[it was the] Same as today…government letting the niggers run wild.” (35) On multiple occasions we see that the UDC and SCV selective  “Lost Cause” self-education about the war brings about mind-boggling prejudices that enter the civil war memory. For example one child dives under his table and responds “Someone told me there’s Yankees around here! They hate little children!”

For many, Horowitz says, the Civil War lives on not as a memory but as a game in intermission.  In the case of Salisbury and many other small Southern towns, the histories of the blacks and whites of the town are separated. The whites memorialize their Confederate Veterans, the blacks memorialize civil rights activists. Until they combine, there can be no way of memorializing the Confederacy without offending their black peers. Reconciliation, perhaps by a combined study of the unknown Union dead in the  “National Cemetery” seems to me to be the best way to broaden the memory of the Civil War and make it more palatable to African-American peers.


Progress Report: This week has been hectic with final papers and exams, however, I went through the list generously provided by Courtney and began putting together a “yes/no” and “why” each monument/dedication was related to the UDC, the Irish Heritage Societies, or “the African-American Community”. This weekend we need to schedule a meeting to put all of our work together and make a multi-layered map with Arc-GIS. Hopefully we can have a “prototype” by next Wednesday.

Blog #12: Remembering the Confederacy

April 20th, 2011 by brb2

As I said in Blog Post 11, I have been researching at Fondren to find missing data for Courtney’s Google Spreadsheet and consolidating the information we have into descriptions of our pinpoints.  I will do more of this, especially once classes end on Friday.  Also, if the group agrees, I may drive to the different pinpoints to take pictures.  Ross has been collecting Geodata, but I don’t think we’ve taken any images of the locations.


The question of how the Civil War should be remembered and how white Southerners should honor their ancestors is a tricky one.  It is reasonable and understandable that Southerners feel the need to honor their ancestors for their bravery and sacrifices during the Civil War.  However, one cannot separate these displays of bravery and sacrifice from the cause they supported, the enslavement of other humans.  Therefore, it’s important to ask: is there “any way for white Southerners to honor their [Confederate] forbears without insulting” black Southerners?

In some ways, this is an impossible question to answer because black Southerners do not all share one opinion about the remembrance and celebration of the Confederacy.  Horwitz talked to several black people at the Martin Luther King events who were not bothered by it.  As one woman told him: “Whites have their day, now we’ve got our own” (Horwitz 43).  Clearly, this woman and Michael King, the preacher Horwitz also talked to, have different levels of tolerance when it comes to the celebration of the Confederacy.  It is impossible to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution to this conundrum as long as a variety of opinions exist.

However, the solution that is likely to be least insulting to the vast majority of black Southerners is for white Southerners to honor and commemorate their ancestors while simultaneously acknowledging the truthful history about the Civil War.  The Children of the Confederacy meeting that Horwitz attends is insulting, not because the members want to remember their ancestors, but because the meeting white-washes the reasons for the Civil War.  The organization actively indoctrinates children with false ideas about the cause of the Civil War through the “catechism” (Horwitz 37).  Michael King sums it up best when he says “Remember your ancestors, but remember what they fought for too, and recognize it was wrong” (Horwitz 44).  Instead of forcing children to memorize propaganda about why the South was great, these types of organizations should recognize that although many individual Confederate soldiers displayed traits like valor and honor, the cause they served was not honorable.

 Any laments about how the South should’ve won the war or that it’s a pity the South lost the war are inappropriate methods of commemoration.  The material we’ve read this semester and covered in class makes it clear that the major aim of the Confederacy, despite what some Southerners claim, was to maintain and even expand slavery.  Any commemoration that celebrates the cause the Confederacy was fighting for is ultimately celebrating slavery, something that is probably deeply insulting to even the most “Confederate-tolerant” Southern African-American.  If Southern whites want to celebrate the admirable traits their ancestors displayed in the heat of battle, that is fine, but it should be clear that it is not a celebration of the Confederate cause the fighting was over.

I do not think that the statues and memorials to Confederate heroes that exist currently should be removed or replaced.  They serve as an important reminder of not just the history they are explicitly commemorating, but of the history that came after the Civil War.  The ways in which the Civil War was remembered ten, twenty, and fifty years after it ended, when these memorials were being erected is important to understand and preserve.  On page 104 of Brown, the erection of a statue of Arthur Ashe on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia is discussed.  This seems like a very good way of dealing with Confederate monuments that do not represent modern values and attitudes.  Instead of taking down the statue and pretending that no one ever held those values, the new statues highlight the change in values and attitudes over time.

Blog Post #11 Progress Report

April 20th, 2011 by brb2

Courtney constructed a very useful Google Spreadsheet that sums up the information that we have and the information we still need to collect for our project.  I have been spent some time trying to collect missing data, specifically the sponsors of several monuments and the dates of the dedications and relocations.  I looked through the digital archive our class compiled earlier in the semester and even spent a few hours going through microfilm at Fondren to try and pin down some of this information.  Unfortunately, I only found a few pieces of information that we did not already have.

The other thing I have started working on is consolidating the data we do have into descriptions for each of our pinpoints.  This is a fairly daunting and time-consuming task.  Hopefully once classes end this week, our group can meet again and make a plan for accomplishing everything we want to.  I also like the idea that we should try to get our own pictures of the Houston pinpoint locations.  I have a car and could definitely do this if the rest of the group agrees.

Remembering the Confederacy

April 19th, 2011 by Courtney Svatek

This week, I made a Google Doc that everyone with the link can view, and that people in the Map Group can edit, where we can organize all of the information we will eventually be incorporating in a visual manner into our map. The link to the spreadsheet is here:


And the post where I explain the different categories is here:


I am now trying to find information about sponsors and fundraising for each of the memorials/relevant ceremonies, to fill in those blanks in the document.

We are now living the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, and the question has once again become pressing: how can Southerners memorialize their Confederate past without offending blacks, or anyone who views the South as synonymous with slavery? As historians, despite their other disagreements, increasingly come to the consensus that slavery was the core cause of the war, we must ask ourselves if there is a way to do so at all, or if public glorification of the Confederacy should become wholly a thing of the past.

This question is not one of whether or not we should continue to remember events of the past, mark historical sites, and teach about popular figures who have shaped history. Of course, Americans must endeavor to keep history alive, and that means teaching future generations about what we already know about both sides of the conflict, preserving things of historical worth, and continuing to seek out more information and put forth new ideas that help us view the past in a new light. However, the time to glorify and “honor” the Confederacy is passing, by social necessity. Glorifying a nation that fought to preserve slavery is inappropriate. If we want America to work towards ever greater tolerance, an addiction to Lost Cause ideology, pining over a conflict that is a century and a half old, is counterproductive. Southerners can argue that the Civil War was actually about States’ Rights and freedom and the love of their home states, but the fact is that the Confederacy and its legacy is bound up with acts of cruelty and racism, both ideologically and physically violent. In the face of the many accounts from before and during – not after – wartime, from powerful politicians to the rank and file, which asserted that slavery was the cornerstone of the Confederacy, continuing to glorify the CSA is incongruous with modern ideas of racial equality and tolerance, unless one buys into the ideas of Southern pundits who asserted that slaves were happy and content, and ignores historical evidence to the contrary. In other words, Lost Cause ideology, and monuments, holidays and other memorials that blossom from it, are propaganda, based on either remainders of racism and white supremacy, or ignoring or perverting the facts and contemporary opinions that historians are increasingly discovering and putting forth.

Perhaps I take all too personal and heated a view on this, but growing up in a small town in Texas – far from the heart of the Confederacy, even – I have experienced these remainders of racism and white supremacy firsthand. I knew boys who had bumper stickers of the stars and bars on their trucks. It seemed all in good fun, but I dated such a guy for a while, and came to notice the way he and his friends talked about black people, and one day noticed him idly drawing a noose on the surface of a picnic table. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last. Horwitz’s reports contain more evidence of the casual vestiges of white supremacy that anyone might encounter on a tour through the heart of the erstwhile Confederacy: “Walt’s not prejudiced. He hates all minorities the same” (34). Horwitz observed men complaining that the “government’s letting the niggers run wild” (35).

Memory of the Confederacy has, for obvious reasons, become inseparably linked to racist ideals. Today, this makes it hard for any tolerant American with an honest curiosity in their Confederate ancestors to express such an interest, let alone pride, without being linked to racism. From when my mother told me once that we had the ancestral backing to join the UDC, and I immediately rejected her despite having a significant interest in the Civil War, to the smart little girl described by Horwitz who, even at age 12, feels uncomfortable with “all this ‘South is great’ stuff” (39), it is not hard to see that the Confederacy is a touchy subject even for some of the people directly connected to it by blood, and justifiably so.

How can we remember the Confederacy without invoking racism? By seeking out the truth, as far as we can discern it, without projecting modern wishful thinking on the past. By learning about, and teaching future generations, an honest history; by giving people facts and letting them decide what they think for themselves, rather than indoctrinating them with a biased Confederate Catechism.

Therefore, memorials of famous historical Confederates, such as Jackson and Davis and even Lee, or allegorical memorials such as the one to which black preacher Michael King objected in Horwitz’s account, are unavoidably, and understandably, going to incite conflict. Such memorials are too bound up with honoring the abstract ideals associated with the Confederacy as a whole, those ideals espoused from leaders, from those on high; as Michael King sees it, the allegorical statue claims God’s affiliation with the Confederacy (43). Even memorializing a Confederate everyman soldier represents by extension the entirety of the rebel army.

Perhaps the time for Confederate memorials in the classical sense, of imposing statues or even street names, is past. But this, conveniently, fits in with growing trends in America which value the glorification of communal heroes less and less, as Brown suggests at the end of his book. “Contemporary society and culture,” he says, “may not attach the same significance to shared memory or, perhaps, to nationhood” (169). Memorializing the Confederacy has even now, in many ways, become somewhat of a cult activity. “You didn’t see nobody black at those [UDC and SCV] meetings, did you?” one black man asked Horwitz. “Anything you got to do with your own kind in secret, something’s wrong with it” (43).

Today, Southerners can honor their ancestors by taking a frank and honest look at the past. Instead of insisting that the “War Between the States” was not about slavery, they should admit that perhaps it was, after all, rather than being belligerent and ignoring the work of historians. Although it may seem painful to have such a stain on one’s ancestors, it need not be that way. There was a time when people in our society went to hangings – for people of any race – for entertainment, and when the Romans pitched humans against each other, or against lions, in a battle to the death, for sport. Our society is not free from its sins today. Yet there is always room for improvement. Is it not a point of pride to look back and say that just 150 short years ago, there were 4 million slaves in the South, and that by now we have made such strides towards equality as to have a black president? Consider how quickly the years go, and you will realize that even a century and a half is not so long. Although no one wants their honor, or that of their ancestors, besmirched, society – just like an individual person – can never progress unless we admit our past mistakes. That does not mean descendants of Confederates should be ashamed; they should view their ancestors as members of a very different society, one that is incompatible with ours today. But, if they really profess to believe in racial equality, neither should they be proud of the slaveholding world of the Old South.

Google Doc

April 19th, 2011 by Courtney Svatek



It’s a more easily interpretable and organized version of my “Relevant Locations” post. Most importantly, it can be edited by all of us. Also, very importantly, it shows us the blanks that still need to be filled in. Right now, we need someone to write descriptions, track down the sponsors of the monuments (UDC? Irish organizations? etc) and find images, as well as to decide on what we’re going to be doing as far as layers, pinpoint colors, etc.

Here is a description of all the categories, and feel free to add something I forgot.

Monument – self-explanatory.

Address – as close as I could define it from the sources; sometimes it is not exact. Geodata will be more specific.

Geodata – Ross is getting this. Will help us target exact locations.

Relevant years – years when important events concerning the location/memorial took place.

Title – if you hovered over the pinpoint, this is what you would see.

Description – the most intimidating category, this is a thorough summary of the monument at each location – when it was moved there, who sponsored it, what important ceremonies took place there, etc. For more details, the interested viewer can consult our linked sources.

Image files – ideally, we need some pictures for each location. Preferably we take them ourselves, or find historical images from our archives.

Sources – where we get our information, which we will also link to when the viewer examines each pinpoint.

Sponsors – who sponsored each monument, or relocation, or dedication ceremony, etc.

Pinpoint color – not sure how this will work yet, but we talked about having different colors depending on who sponsored the monument?

Map layer – again, not quite sure on the details of how we’ll be doing our layers, but it’s something to be decided on.

Checking in

April 18th, 2011 by Caleb McDaniel

Hello, Map Group! Here are a few announcements and suggestions for your work this week.

  1. Ross, were you able to get to the sites for geodata, as you were planning to over the weekend?
  2. Your contract indicates that you all are planning to meet this week and make some more specific plans, and also that you would like to meet with me. I haven’t heard from any of you about setting this up, so just wanted to see whether movement has been made on this front.
  3. I have posted your contract here on the blog for our collective reference. However, I still have some concerns about the “division of labor” section and the “timeline.” The division of labor uses broad words like “compile information” or “work on” the map, but it might be worth spelling out exactly what information–beyond the coordinates and the documents in our archive–you will be compiling. For example, Courtney suggests that you have discussed putting photos of Houston “then” and “now” with each site. But if so, who will be determining if this is possible? That’s not indicated under your division of labor. Your objectives also mention that you would like to provide some context on the sites on your map, if the data allows. Who will determine if the data allows this and document the search for such data? Craig mentions layering historical maps, but who will be working on this? The lack of specificity on your division of labor may be related to the lack of specificity on your timetable. I think it would help your group if you set some more specific target dates between “start the project” and “finish the project.” What will have to done by when? Have you taken into account the GIS/Data Center’s hours in setting these benchmarks?
  4. Courtney wondered whether it would make sense to have a Google Doc to collect your work or just keep notes on the blog. I think it’s a good idea to use the blog to keep track of your work processes and as a scratchpad for work. But I do think it might be useful to make a spreadsheet on Google Docs that can serve as a Master List for all the pinpoints you plan to put on the map, with separate columns for things like “geodata,” “title,” “description,” “image files,” “sources,” etc. etc. That way, if anything happens to your folder in the Data Center, you can retrace your steps and also have a central place for everyone to put information, even without being in the Data Center. The last step can then be to use the spreadsheet to copy and paste the info you need from it into the interface for ArcGIS and actually make your map. If you decide to make such a spreadsheet, please share it with me as soon as you create it.

Let me know if I can be of assistance with any of this.

Map Group Contract

April 18th, 2011 by Caleb McDaniel


Our mission is to make a map that will show markers that Dowling left geographically and through these marks show that his memory has changed over time. The map will also show that different groups were responsible for these marks and sometimes had differing objectives or emphasized different parts of his memory. We also hope to show the contemporary geographic contexts (streets, demographic data, other significant places like City Hall or other historical sites) for the markers, as available data allows. If time and resources permit we will suggest correlations between where markers are and the objectives of the group, showing that markers cluster together, are near other statues or memorials, or are in highly trafficked areas.

The goal of this data will be to construct a map that makes it easier on the viewer to visualize the sites, easily access relevant primary documents pertaining to each site, and make Dowling’s history and memory accessible to a wider audience. 


Ross: Travel to, and collect coordinates for, the sites we have chosen to mark.
Renee: Compile Information about the legacy portion and work on both maps.
Craig: Compile geographic and demographic information about the 1905-1958 Houston legacy of Dowling and match geographic markers with relevant archival sources.
Courtney: Seek relevant documents related to each site we choose to mark.


The main tool that we intend to use is the ArcGIS mapping software, located at Fondren Library on the Rice University campus. We have met with a librarian to teach us the intricacies of the software, and have created a folder at the library titled “HIST 248.” Our research will include sources gathered through Fondren Library at Rice University, and sources contained in the class made Database.

We will keep our main research notes on the Map Group blog, and eventually compile documents as part of the interactive map.

Week of 4/10: each person will work on finding information
Week of 4/18: we will meet at this point and begin working on the project, by Friday we will have a clear direction, finalize the contract, and meet with professor McDaniel to go over the project again.
May 4: the final project will be completed by this date.

Progress Report 2

April 13th, 2011 by rjh4

This week I have been working on my portion of the Dowling Map Project. As Courtney mentioned this morning we went down to the ArcGIS center and I familiarized my self with the software, and discussed with the librarian what is needed to put geo-data in to the ArcGIS software. We determined that my GPS would be able to do the job. Next, Courtney and I discussed the important sites, and she then finalized the list of places and posted it on the group blog (see below). This weekend I will be visiting these sites around Houston and marking them on the GPS so that we can transport the coordinates in to ArcGIS. Also I have found some earlier maps of Houston that we could use in our project. Also earlier I drafted our contract which Craig and Courtney then made additions to.

As Courtney mentioned we have decided to put the map of the Battle on hold, I spent much of the early part of the week gathering information for this part. I have decided to put this on hold and will now, be participating on constructing the map of Houston and gathering data. I plan on meeting with the librarian and imputing the coordinates that I gather in to the map.