Talking History: African American History and Virginia’s National Parks

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Talking History: African American History and Virginia’s National Parks

On Monday I had the chance to listen to Professor Erin Devlin speak about her research project on the history of segregation in Virginia’s Nation Parks. Professor Devlin’s focus is between the years 1916 and 1965. However the majority of her focus is on segregation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in park development. She also is focusing on the segregation at visitor facilities within these National Parks. Her research is to show how African Americans in the CCC played a role into our National Parks development as well as how segregation affected their work. She has found in her research that most historical archeology shows that whites were the ones working to create these parks, which is not the case. Her argument was created through this picture she found in her research at Colonial National Historical Park where African Americans were seen working in archeology at the parks. Her focus on the CCC involved how they were segregated within their camps and in the cities they were working and living while developing the National Parks. How the CCC reshaped the parks through construction, which was done without machinery and their hands involved tasks such as landscaping, scenic improvements, archaeological investigation, fire and erosion control, and constructing the parkway. I enjoyed learning about her research and how her time interning at Jamestown sparked her interest in looking at segregation in Virginia’s National Park. This topic is very interesting to me and I’m interested in learning more about her further research.

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