Bruce Harvey

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Interviewee: Bruce Harvey
Interviewer: Alexandria Russell
Date: October 3, 2016
Accession #: PHP 012
Length of Recording: 65:50
Sound Recording
Summary

Bruce Harvey is a Consulting Professional Historian and Documentation Photographer in Syracuse, NY.  Harvey attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History.  His advisor, Paula Treckle, recommended he apply to the Public History Program at the University of South Carolina. In 1988, Harvey completed his Master’s Thesis, “An Old City in the New South: Urban Progressivism and Charleston’s West Indian Exposition” under the direction of Mike Scardaville. In 1995, Harvey graduated from Vanderbilt University with a PhD in History. His dissertation Worlds Fairs in a Southern Accent: Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, 1895-1902 was published in 2014 by the University of Tennessee Press. He has served as the Acting Director at the Hezekiah Alexander Homesite in Charlotte, NC, the Senior and Architectural Historian with Brokington and Associates in Mount Pleasant, SC and the Senior Cultural Resources Specialist with Kleinschmidt Associates in Syracuse, NY.  Interview includes discussion of his fond memories of the Public History Program, his career trajectory in public history from 1985 to the present, internship and research experiences, his doctoral program at Vanderbilt University, and his current career as a consulting historian.

 

Keywords

Allegheny College | Consulting Historians | Cultural Resource Specialists | Hezekiah Alexander Homesite | Photographers | Syracuse, New York | Vanderbilt University | Worlds Fair

 

Transcript

Alexandria Russell:  This is Alexandria Russell and it is October 3rd, 2016.  I am interviewing Bruce Harvey for USC’s Public History Program Archive.  We are conducting this interview via Skype in Columbia, South Carolina and of course, in New York as well.  Let me first start by asking you to tell me a little bit about your undergraduate experience and what ultimately led you to come to USC’s Applied History program.

Bruce Harvey:  I did my undergraduate work at Allegheny College at Meadville, Pennsylvania.  I went to college to be an environmental science major but found that I was much stronger in the reading and writing and I had an interest in old things generally.  History especially museums was a perfect fit for me.  I switched over to history at the end of my freshman or the beginning of my sophomore years.  There always was an interest in museums and during summers – at other times during the school years, I would do what I could in terms of either talking to museums professionals or did internships while I was in college.  My senior year I did an internship at a historic house museum.  I knew that I had an interest in the public side of history especially museums.  I was trying to remember…I don’t know exactly how I heard about the USC…it was then called the applied history program.  I would assume that it was a flyer on one of the bulletin boards in the history department halls at Allegheny.  One of my professors at Allegheny was a very big advocate of public history…applied history and was very enthused about my being interested in public history especially museums.  I finished my undergraduate degree at Allegheny in 1985 and that summer right after I finished college I was selected to be one of the Historic Deerfield summer fellows…the Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts has…had a summer fellowship program since 1957…I think.

Each year they bring in anywhere from six to twelve upper level undergraduate students for a very intensive ten to twelve week in full immersion in historic house museums or cover research, that sort of thing. Straight from college, I went to Historic Deerfield and was a summer fellow there and within a week or two after finishing Deerfield –I rode down to Columbia, South Carolina to start in the applied history program.

AR:  Wow.  This is in 1985?

BH:  Yes.  I finished college in 1985.  I was a summer fellow at Historic Deerfield in the summer of ’85 and I started at USC’s applied history program in August of ’85.

AR:  Kind of walk me through what was kind of your early experience in your first semester or two – ’85 or Spring of ’86, how did that go for you and what was it like to be a public history student back then?

BH:  It was fantastic.  One of the main reasons that I chose South Carolina – I was deciding between the University of Delaware Museum Studies Program and the University of South Carolina and there were a few different factors that led to picking USC over Delaware but one of the main ones was the then director of the program, Mike Scardaville, who is…was then and I assume still is – we haven’t been in touch in a little while – but just fantastic.  He was enthusiastic…he was eager to look into new areas…he was just an amazing leader of that program.  When I visited South Carolina and met him for the first time – March of 1985 – and Mike met me on a Sunday afternoon, we spent probably three to four hours walking around the campus and talking about the applied history program on that Sunday afternoon and he was engaging and even then I recognized that someone taking that much time on a Sunday afternoon is pretty impressive.

He didn’t let me down when I got there.  He remembered me…he was very enthusiastic about my being there as he was with all of us coming in.  That’s the other thing that made it such a good…especially that first year was the group that I came in with.  It was a fairly good size, there were – I don’t remember exactly how many but probably seven to maybe ten people…I don’t remember exactly…who came into the applied history program at the same time in the Fall of 85’.  It was just a remarkable group to be apart of.  Everyone had different backgrounds but everyone was just very inquisitive, very bright, very enthusiastic and we just bonded as a group very, very quickly.  It was just a great experience getting going there. The workload was…it wasn’t that much heavier a workload that I remember from college but it was – I remember not just – I don’t think it was just my…it was both my expectations and those from…my colleagues around me as well as Mike Scardaville that the level of work needed to be high, it needed to be very high.

We were – in a very genial way, kind of pushing each other along, involved in each other’s research and it was a very intense learning experience.  Especially that first year with our group just sticking together and taking so many classes together, the field trips that we took, it was just a great group to be apart of with Scardaville…Mike Scardaville being such a fantastic leader of this group.

AR:  What were some of the field trips that you took?

BH:  The main ones that I remember were down in Charleston.  I know we did at least one trip…I can’t remember if there were more…in Charleston to talk to people involved in both the museum inside of things as well as the preservation aspect.  I know there were at least one or maybe two but I can’t remember for sure…trips to Charleston, those were official trips.  It was “a social group” with my fellow students as well as Mike Scardaville – he made sure we had access and were introduced to just some of the local scene as well. He made sure that we all knew very well about the different styles of barbecuing…he was very keen that we learned about that.  We had some trips to different barbecue places…

AR:  I know that was fun. [Laughs]

BH:  It was.  Another one of the reasons that I picked South Carolina’s program was that I had never lived in the South before and I thought that would be a good thing to learn about.  Mike Scardaville is from New Jersey…I believe…he also had sort of an outsider’s view looking at the culture and he was a good lens through which we could watch.  We can see the – learn a little bit about the culture.

AR:  What were some of your first impressions about the South and particularly South Carolina: Columbia, Charleston?  How was that transition for you?

BH:  Well, it was just very – the look of it was very different…certainly, the climate – coming from Upstate New York.  The heat at times was pretty breathtaking.  Just the look, there was a – especially being around the horseshoe and the campus, getting down to Charleston – the layers of history, the sense of continuity through time were really very powerful and especially when doing some reading in Southern History that we were doing…it really hit you that the sense of continuity through time that I found really very powerful and very interesting and it was just fantasizing to be there.

AR:  Wow. In terms of other professors who you’ve took classes with or who you had interactions with…was there anyone who was memorable to you or stands out or any class that stands out to you?

BH:  Gosh, I’m trying to remember some of my professors…I should say that keep in mind this is 1985 and one of the memorable classes we did was Mike Scardaville Introduction to Applied History or whatever it was called. Our very first semester that we were there – and Mike was very concerned we learned about computers.  Most of us came there without really having to use much in way of computers before.  I had written my senior thesis on a typewriter.  I think one of my classmates showed up with her own early Macintosh computer but she was the only one who actually had a computer.  Mike was very adamant…we all become proficient in using the word processing immediately. Our first assignment for the second week of the class had to be turned on a computer-generated paper but also database.  I think we were using d-base two…d-base three at the time.  He was very concerned about that and he wanted to make sure that we…he knew that that’s where things were going and was very concerned.  We all got a good introduction to working with word processing and floppy discs and such like.  The applied history introductory course that Mike did that first semester was particularly memorable.  It was the real place where my cohort really bonded.

Other professors…I don’t…I’m trying to remember, I had an interest in late nineteenth, early twentieth century America…I know I took at least one course…if not more with John Sproat.  I don’t remember too many of my other classes.  I know I took a decorative arts class with someone in the Arts History department.  I know I did some museum work through McKissick Museum but I never worked in McKissick but we did classes through there – and I can’t remember the curator who led those seminars.  That’s funny I don’t remember a lot of my other professors.  (Unintelligible 13:40) but it was quite a while ago.

AR:  Well, yes and it sounds like Dr. Scardaville certainly made an impression on you as well.

BH:  He did.  He really did.  He was the…kind of the glue that kept things together and provided such good leadership.

AR:  That’s awesome.  Did you have to complete an internship during the program?

BH:  I don’t think it was a requirement.  The first year that I…I think my second semester from the first year that I was at South Carolina – this would’ve been in the winter, early spring of ’86 – I saw a notice of an internship through the International Council of Monuments & Sites…like most and the National Trust in England was looking for an intern.  I put in an application and was selected for that one.   I actually did an internship with the National Trust in England in the summer of 86’.  I don’t know…I don’t remember if an internship was required.  I probably wasn’t to concerned about it since I had that lined up.  That was a…just a phenomenal experience. It was really pretty remarkable to be given the kind of reasonability that I was.  The woman who guided my internship course for the National Trust was equally…she was equally Mike Scardaville counterpart – the enthusiasm, the willingness to lead, to guide, to mentor.   The (Unintelligible 15:37) internship, I did in the summer of 86’ was really quite a turning point for me.

AR:  Overall, when you think back on your time at USC and the Public History Program or the Applied History Program as it was called then – how significant do you think that was to your overall trajectory and your career in where you would eventually go afterwards?

BH:  Oh it was huge.  It gave me such a good foundation and quite a wide range of options within public history.  As I say, I started in the museum track and my first job out of graduate school before I finished my masters – before I finished my thesis was in a small historic house museum in Charlotte, North Carolina and my boss from there was also…he was an USC applied history grad, Ray Sigmund.   Just having that connection that someone who knew the kind of program that I’ve been through was huge.  I ended up working in – I came back to work in South Carolina in 1995, working for an archaeological preservation planning consulting firm that I worked there from 95’ to 2003 and during those eight years, I was regularly in contact with other graduates from the USC.  I think by that time…the public history program – there were quite a bit number of us spread throughout the (Unintelligible 17:26), different organizations, agencies.  It really helped to open doors – it gave a good foundation for the range of what was available in public history.  It gave me that foundation now – I just worked myself as an attendant consultant and still using a lot of the research and applied – public history foundations that I got at USC.

AR:  Let’s talk a little bit about your masters thesis and I’m wondering if the idea for that or if the inspiration for your masters thesis came from some of the trips you took down to Charleston?

BH:  Oh absolutely.  I love being in Charleston.  I thought it was just an awesome place to be.  I should state that we were in the applied history program but we were also history graduate students – we were all expected to have substantial historical thesis topics.  We weren’t doing projects as a way to complete our masters degree, we had to do the – we had to have a scholarly foundation – which I think is one of the very strong points of the program.  My goal in identifying a thesis topic was to find something that would bring me to Charleston.  I can recall one afternoon at the South Carolinana library, just sitting down in front of the cart catalog and opening up to the “C” for Charleston and just looking through the cart catalog at Carolinana to see if there was something going in Charleston that I could use as a thesis – I can have an excuse to get down to Charleston.  That was kind of my primary goal for a thesis topic.  Through flipping through the cart catalog at Carolinana, that’s when I found about the World’s Fair, that had been held in Charleston in 1901 and I thought that just sounded like a really fascinating topic to look into just because it would have so many different aspects.  I could talk about exhibits.  I could talk about politics.  I could talk about any numbers of different topics within the overall topic of the World’s Fair.

Then it had the strongest bonus that it would’ve let me get down to Charleston on a regular basis.  I looked around and found out that nothing really had been written – at least not very much on it and Mike Scardaville thought it sounded like a fine idea and that’s how my…that’s how I picked a thesis topic in which then became my PhD dissertation in which then became my first book.  It all started from trying to figure out a way to get to Charleston.

AR:  What was probably the most interesting thing that you found when writing your thesis or maybe something that you didn’t expect to find initially that sparked an interest?

BH:  I don’t know if there was any one particular thing but I just remember being – well, finding it really enjoyable because I could talk about fundraising – I could talk about local politics – I could talk about national politics – I could talk about exhibits.  All of the World’s Fairs…all of the Southern World’s Fairs had two semi-autonomous departments – one of them the Woman’s department – one of them the Negro department.  The Charleston World’s Fair having both of those departments let me look more in depth into those topics, which I really hadn’t involved myself in much before.  It just gave me such a – it let me talk about so many different topics – I sometimes can get bored easily and having those variety of topics to write about and to learn about – it helped a great deal with finishing it – I just found it really interesting at the time. There wasn’t any one particular thing that really sparked me on – I just found the whole concept of such a complete environment that was there at the World’s Fair, where you can talk about landscape designs as well as architecture as well as politics – it was a wonderful environment to work within.

AR:  Yes, I personally found it interesting.  There is a lot of things that I just didn’t know about Charleston – having live there for a few years and going to College of Charleston, I learned a lot of new things that I didn’t know about Charleston.  I enjoyed it very much.

BH:  That’s kind of you to say.  Both The Citadel and Hampton Park, of course are the main reminisce of the World’s Fair.  Hampton Park especially with the little sunken garden, that was a design feature – one of the few design features that remained from the 1901 World’s Fair there.  The Citadel is on a portion of the original exposition grounds.  It’s fun to be – again, those layers, those continuities – once you start looking into them, those continuities are always there especially in a place like Charleston.

AR:  Oh yeah, it’s really amazing.  You’ve finished that up in 1988, right?

BH:  I did. I started working for the Hezekiah Alexander Homesite and History Museum – it was a small municipal historic house museum in Charlotte. I started there in October of ’87, after I finished my coursework but before I could finish my thesis.  I finished my thesis while I was working in Charlotte.  Me and I think probably two of my closest friends in the program, the three of us finished at the same time and walked down the aisle in May of ’88.

AR:  Tell me a little bit about working in house museums to start of your career – really to continue it since you had so many internships.  Were you on the museums track in the applied history program or…

BH:  I was and [laughs] working in the historic house museum pointed out to me that I really didn’t want to work in museums anymore.  I’m just not as comfortable in a programming kind of setting.  As I mentioned, I was finishing my masters’ thesis at the same time that I was working in the museum and I ended up being in charge of the museum just a few months after I started there as an assistant.  Ray Sigmund took a job back in South Carolina – I don’t remember where.  Just a – three or four months after I got there, I just stayed as the acting director for the next few years.  I was writing my masters’ thesis at the same time I was working in the museum and that’s when I realized I enjoyed the research and the writing component much better than the museum administration and the exhibit development side of things.  I enjoyed helping to develop the exhibit, to do the research, to do the planning for them but the administration was not my calling suit – thinking of programs in ways to promote the museum was not my strong suit. I just found that I was much better at reading and writing.  It was while I was at the museum that I decided to go back for a PhD in history – with I knew that I wanted to have more of that scholarly basis than the museum basis.

AR:  What made you apply to Vanderbilt?

BH:  The big part was when I was writing my masters thesis, I went to a – I attended a conference…I don’t remember which one…sometime in ’87 I think…it was while I was writing my masters’ thesis.  At the conference, I met Don Doyle, who was then at Vanderbilt – who was then writing his book, “New Men, New Cities, New South”, I think that’s what it’s called.  I went up to introduce myself after his presentation, he was talking something about Charleston…I think and he was terrific.  He was happy to talk to me. He shared chapters of his book and process and asked for input on them and I was just kind of floored when a scholar of that statue is willingly to take me – what appeared to me as seriously – he invited my comments – he was really very generous about it.  He was at Vanderbilt – my thought was perhaps I could continue doing some work under him.  I think I applied to just Vanderbilt and Chapel Hill…I think – I don’t remember – at least those were the only two were – I think maybe I was accepted – I don’t remember.  Vanderbilt was the one that had the financial package.

I knew that I was – I had in mind working with Don Doyle and it just seemed like a good fit.

AR:  That certainly kind of another USC connection since he is down here at USC now.

BH:  Exactly.

AR:  That’s amazing.

BH: He was more influential on me working on my masters’ degree than when I was working on my PhD.  I ended up doing my PhD under the direction of Paul Conkin at Vanderbilt with David Carlton being my second reader but Dr. Doyle was still on my committee.  He was traveling a fair bit while I was there at Vanderbilt and I was also becoming more interested in U.S. intellectual history at the time and that really is Paul Conkin’s main subject area – he was intellectual history.  I just founded a good kinship with Paul Conkin.  I ended up learning a new dissertation and even though I went back to working on World’s Fairs – and I stuck with Conkin just because I had just liked him quite a lot and I wanted to have his input on my dissertation.

AR:  Besides taking a course – your masters thesis on topic and turning it into a larger dissertation – was there anything else…any lessons or anything that you experienced at USC that you took with you to Vanderbilt?

BH:  I went to Vanderbilt with the intention of staying in the public history field.  I really didn’t have any intentions of going there for teaching.  I knew that I wanted to work with – in some aspect of public history, which that’s what drew me to the USC’s applied history program in the first place.  I had such a positive experience at USC and the enthusiasm that we all had while we were there – at least that I felt among our group and Mike Scardaville – that enthusiasm carried through and I just knew that I enjoyed the field.  I knew that I liked the sense of purpose and direction that you could have with working in public history – the kind of contexts, in which you would be working – the way that the material that you would be developing would be used by a wider range of people with a wider range of interests.  That really stuck with me and that’s what I want.

I just want to do that better and I thought I could do that better with a PhD.  I just felt like that finishing off a degree, even though I was staying in the public history field, it would take me about as far as I could go academically and set me on a good path for finding other things to do in public history and it worked.

AR:  I have to tell you this as well and I meant to mention it to you earlier – your comments to your advisor at Allegany College were so impressive that they shared that information with another student, Beth Herron, who actually went to USC from Allegany as well because of your experience.

BH:  I remember you mentioning something about that – through (Unintelligible 32:55) is the…

AR:  Yes.

BH:  …is the professor of history and she is now a narrator.  She wasn’t my senior thesis director but she was kind of my unofficial advisor and remained a friend and kind of mentor.  We stayed in touch really over the years.  I heard something about another student came down from Allegany.

AR:  Yes, it’s Beth Herron.  She actually been at USC for about the last twenty years as a top grant writer and she works with a lot of grant things…

BH:  Oh that’s fantastic.

AR:  She is here at USC and I did an interview with her on last Monday and she mentioned you.  I said, “Oh okay, I’ll be talking to him – I’ll definitely mention that.”  Just to let you know, she remembered your experience and that influenced her to come to USC.

BH:  That’s nice to hear.  It was a fantastic foundation at Allegany especially the experience – I assume it’s still the case – in order to graduate from Allegany, you have to write a senior thesis – a piece of original research.  I mean mine was pretty bad but it was good research but bad thinking and writing, it’s kind of an embarrassment thing right now.  What struck me was – a) the need to do the kind of research and writing that I knew I have to do as an Historian and also the seriousness in which my professors took it.  Even though, they didn’t speak that highly of my senior thesis – it was a pretty so-so one.  What impressed me was when I thought I got out of the embarrassment of it – what impressed me was how seriously they took it and that is really something that stuck with me – that what we write matters – that we write with clarity and precision – with logic, with good facts and good research behind us.  They didn’t let me slide through with skimping on those things.  As I thought about it – getting ready to go to USC and actually ever since that seriousness of – the seriousness was which my professors took my research and my writing had stuck with me and I tried to keep that seriousness in mind – make sure what I write is clear, it’s understandable, and is focused.

I tried to keep that going at USC.  I don’t know with what kind of results but that was my goal at anyway.

AR:  You mentioned that you began in 1995 in Charleston working as a consultant.  Are you working on your dissertation during that time as well?

BH:  Yeah, I went to Vanderbilt – I started at Vanderbilt in August in the fall of 1990.  Finished my classwork in the spring of ’93.  Stayed in Vanderbilt through the spring of 1994.  Then took eight or nine months writing most of my dissertation that I took the job with Brockington & Associates in Charleston in July or August of 1995.  I’ve written all except the last two chapters of my dissertation at that point.  It took me about another year or year and a half while working in Charleston to finish the rest of my dissertation.  Then I defended it in January of 1988.  Yes, I was working in Charleston as a consultant at the same time as I was finishing the research and the writing for my dissertation.

AR:  What were some of the things that you did – kind of like on a day-to-day basis as a consultant in Charleston?

BH:   My job there was senior historian and architectural historian.  I did quite a lot of historic architectural surveys – we did a lot of those surveys either for various highway departments when they were doing road widenings.  We did a lot of work for the U.S. Army Core of Engineers – the mobile district.  I did quite a lot of architectural surveys – I did a fair bit of just historic overviews for projects – again either for the Core of Engineers or a range of other clients.  It was quite a lot of fieldwork.  I was traveling quite a lot at that point.  There was quite a lot of research throughout South Carolina…throughout the Southeast – most of the work that I did was in the Southeast – from Virginia down to Florida across to Mississippi.

We did – Core of Engineers, I’ve got some projects out in the West Coast through Paul Brockington, who is basically in Atlanta.  The president of the company, I did some work in Lawrence, Kansas.  Almost all of the rest of the work was in the Southeast but there was an awful lot of traveling for research for field architectural survey.  By the time I left Brockington, I was starting to do some larger format photography as well – for (Unintelligible 39:38) and hair documentation projects.  I was just starting when I left Brockington.  That was just a fantastic – again like with USC’s program, it was a fantastic foundational kind of environment for me – it really gave me a good foundation in research and writing relatively quickly according to Buffet, according to schedule, and according to the needs of our clients while protecting resources.  We got a quite a lot of work – Paul Brockington was very successful in getting work.

We got a lot of work – we stayed extremely busy.  I just spent the eight years working in a constant – evaluating historic buildings, writing about them, and writing historic narratives – it was really quite a remarkable experience.

AR:  You did that up until 2003 and then…what did you start doing then?

BH:  In the summer of 2003, I took a job – I applied – it was a roundabout situation but I took a job in the summer of 2003 with Kleinschmidt Associates, there an engineering and environmental planning firm based in Maine and there worked mostly with hydro-electric and water resource projects.  They needed a cultural resources specialist and they knew about me. They got in touch in the spring of 2003 and we worked out and offered.  They had offices throughout – they had seven or eight offices throughout the Northeast but their biggest need was in their office of Syracuse, New York, which was perfect because I was born in Syracuse and grew up not to far from here and my wife and I were looking to be closer to our respective families.  My wife is from Michigan – my parents are in Northern New York – it just worked out perfectly, it was a really fun interesting job.  I started in the beginning of August in 2003 and not as much traveling within unfortunately but still got to go to a number of different hydro-electric sites and learn quite a lot about hydro-electric projects, about the broader environmental impact process and environmental analysis process.  I get some work as a historian – a lot of work is just dealing with cultural resources, evaluations, and negotiations – writing agreement documents, writing environmental impact statement – bring cultural resource portions of environmental impact statements.  Again, I started doing more in the way of large format photography: (Unintelligible 42:52) and hair projects along with Kleinschmidt.

Kleinschmidt decided to – in the spring of 2009 during the economic downturn – Kleinschmidt decided to close their office in Syracuse.  There were only a few of us here – it’s quite understandable on their part – they offered to relocate my wife and me to any of their other offices but we liked it here, we had a good network of family and friends here and with that there was less risk by staying here than moving to another location where we didn’t have that network. With that I became an independent consultant in May of 2009.

AR: You’ve been working as an independent consultant ever since?

BH:  Ever since.  Yep.  I still do quite a lot of work with Kleinschmidt.  They have remained good friends and good colleagues and good client – basically, they send me work on occasion and I’ve been in this field long enough that enough people know about me that I’m able to pick up a fair bit of other – pretty good of other work through other sources as well.

AR:  I guess from ’85 until 2003, you’ve been living in the South, whether that was in Charleston, Columbia, Charlotte, or Nashville and then you…

BH:  Yeah. I wrote most of my dissertation, I stayed with my parents for about eight or nine months while I wrote most of my dissertation up in Northern New York.  Other than that – I lived in various cities in the South from ’85 until 2003.

AR:  Was there another transition moving back home or was it just kind of like riding a bike – same old same old…

BH:  It was just riding a bike.  I was just back home.  I loved learning about the South – I loved like I say the sense of continuity of layers of history but I’m back home now and home it means quite a lot as I’m finding out – not just the house that I grew up but the setting – just the feeling of the climate, the language – it’s not better or worse, it’s just home.

AR:  Right.  Definitely understandable.  I know something that you also do is photography and your website has some absolutely amazing photographs on there.

BH:  That’s kind of you to say.

AR:  I want you to talk a little bit about yourself as an artist – as a photographer – what inspired you to start doing that? Why do you choose black & white as you talk about on your site as well?

BH:  Let me step back…one of the points…let me change your phrasing –

All my photographs I do as a historian not as an Artist.   My goal is not to create a compelling image…my goal is to record.  All of my photographs I take with the “I” in the mentally of a historian. Trying to understand why this particular building or this structure or this landscape isn’t important.  I like a lot of my photographs – I think they look very nice but I don’t really take them as an Artist – I take them as an historian.  For my comfort level – a point of clarification but it kind of goes back to Mike Scardaville. When we were – it was our – I guess my second semester at South Carolina – we did a – Mike Scardaville got a grant to do an architectural survey of the Waverly neighborhood in Columbia.

He designed the survey – he was the principal investigator – those of us in that class were basically the staff, we were field technicians going out to conduct the architectural survey, which also meant photographing the buildings as we went along.  At the time, I had my father’s old 35mm camera from sometimes in the forties or fifties, I would guess…sometime in the 1950s probably. I don’t remember what kind of camera it was, I’m sure it was a very good camera at the time.  Dad was fairly serious about taking photographs back then.  It had no light meter, the lens was clouded over – and Mike in his gentle, prodding way kind of made fun of my photographs cause he said, “Look, there just not up to snuff. These are pretty bad. These are just not useable.” At that point, I just bit the bullet and bought a nice thirty-five millimeter camera sometime that spring –

Sprung for two decent lenses.  Just found that the camera did make a big difference in that sense.

Mike was happy with the quality of the photographs after I got that Rico camera.  I found that I enjoyed it – I liked seeing the kind of images that I could get but apart of it also came when I was taking the preservation classes and doing my own reading in architectural history, I found that I was – it took a little while for me to realize this but I found that I was more interested in the photographs of the buildings than it was the buildings itself.  I just thought it was fascinating that you could create pictures of buildings like this.  I just didn’t have the temperament for the details of architectural history.  I found myself wondering away from the details of the buildings to asking questions about the photographs.

Which I kept doing over a course during a good number of years after leaving the applied – graduating from the applied history program – working in Charlotte and still working in – working in Charleston.  I had to take an awful lot of photographs for survey work and all that at the time, there really weren’t digital cameras.  All of the work was on black & white film and I just found myself enjoying the process of photographing the buildings as much or more than writing about them.  Eventually, I found out that the way that you get the really good photographs of buildings is with a large format camera that shoots the sheet film either 4X5 inches or larger up to 8X10 inch negatives.

I learned about that – I knew about them several years before I actually had a chance to see one – try one.  I finally – a friend in Charleston was a formal commercial photographer, when I found that out I mentioned that I was interested in large format.  He said, “That he had one and that – up in his attic that he didn’t use anymore that I was welcomed to try out.”  He showed me the basics of it.  Another friend in Charleston was still at that point a commercial photographer and he sort of became a mentor – this would’ve been in ’98, ’99 probably.  Helped me to learn about working in the darkroom – learned about seeing buildings photographically – how to look at a building.  I had a lot of that because I have taken so many…thousands and thousands of photographs of buildings doing survey work.

I had a pretty good knack for what I wanted to see in a photograph.  My friend and mentor – who still is a friend and mentor – helped me to master the techniques of the camera – not master but helped to point out how to control the camera, the kind of movements that it had, how to work with lenses, how to work with filters. Since then, its just been a process – still a process of experimenting and asking a lot of questions and trying to figure out why some negatives look terrible and then working from that – the answers that I get and trying to make fewer negatives that look terrible.  I started working with large format again from a public history component. One of the forms of mitigation for (Unintelligible 53:13) through the federal…section 106 process – one of the mitigations for adverse effects is a formal process of documentation of either a building or a structural landscape – that’s done according to the standards of the Historic American Building Survey and the Historic American Engineering Records – HABS and HAER.  Both of those includes large format photography and (Unintelligible 53:46). I wanted to get into large photography that in part I could orient toward getting work or getting HABS or HAER level projects. It took several years before I was good enough with the camera to really start building myself in that way but I started doing some early large format photography documentation jobs while I was still in Charleston.

Then I’ve done – quite a lot more active since moving up to Syracuse in 2003.  Black & white is – there are a couple of – there are several reasons, the main one is the nature of the work that I do, the documentation for mitigation – that mitigation requires black & white film.  That’s just a requirement.  Black & white film is inheritably archaically stable or at least more stable than any other image.  Since these images will be the last memory done – the only done real community memory of these important, significant resources – it’s important that the images last as long they can.  There are no substitutes for the archival longevity of properly process black & white negative.  Also, for a few different reasons I just like the look of black & white.  It just feels right for historic architecture – in some degree for landscape work as well. It just looks right – feels right – I like the look of it.  The kind of silver and gray tones that you can get – I just think they’re beautiful.

AR:  I also wondered to when I was reading your book that you recently published a World’s Fairs in a Southern accent – Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston 1895 through 1902 – if you were inspired at all by some of the photographs that you include there?

BR:  No. Not really.  The photographs that I use there for the book are illustrations to make a point about what was there.  The inspiration was more in the architectural history books that I was studying.  Where they had from what I could tell were really good photographs for what I realized fairly early on not very good photographs.  I was realizing that I could make a big distinction – made a difference in how I view that building if it was a good photograph or not.  It’s almost entirely – not entirely self-serving but I put one of my large format black & white images in my book that was kind of a last minute addition before I sent it off to the University of Tennessee Press.  Actually, it was appropriate – It helped to make a point.  It was a photograph of a national guard armory that was in the – that I photographed in Amsterdam, New York – that helped me to understand one of the buildings was at the Atlanta World’s Fair.  It was a gate building that didn’t make any sense.  It was completely out of keeping with the rest of the buildings at the World’s Fair in Atlanta in 1895.

Then with the work that I was doing on this armory up in Upstate New York – knowing that the architect for the World’s Fair in Atlanta was Bradford Gilbert, who was from New York City, worked throughout Upstate New York and knew of the kind of work that the state architect of New York did for the state of New York was doing at these armories at the same time.  The building that Bradford Gilbert designed for the main entrance of the Atlanta World’s Fair was very much like these armories that were being built across New York State at the exact same time.  He had to do this gate entrance building on very short notice – they gave him no time, no budget – he had to kind of pull a building off the shelf.  It still is incongruous as it doesn’t fit with the rest of the architectural scheme of the World’s Fair but it – knowing about the National Guard armories in Upstate New York that building made sense and that gave me a slight pretext to put one of my own photographs in the book.  It was gratuitous but I let it slide.

AR:  What made you decide to publish at the time that you did?  Was there something that prompted you or just kind of it’s time?

BH:  I started writing the thesis in 1986…1987.  I finished the thesis in 1988.  I finished my PhD dissertation in 1997 and I had University of Tennessee Press approach me about publishing – the equitation editor in the late nineties had turns out was a World’s Fair fan.  She agreed to read it without my revising it first and I actually writing the dissertation in a book format, it wasn’t really a dissertation format.  She agreed to read it and said – yes, this would have been in [’98]…’99 – we would like to publish it, let’s go ahead do the…get it going.  I procrastinated very badly and I just let it sit on the shelf.  I would work on it for a few weeks and then let it sit for a year or two and then work on it for a few weeks and then let it sit for a couple of years and then by two thousand and thirteen [2013] , I was just sick of having it hanging over my head.  It came down to a decision of either I throw away everything and forget that this ever happen of I finish and publish it but by that point it was really ninety-seven percent done.

It was mostly getting the illustrations lined up and finalizing a few things.  The difficult part was trying to keep up with the scholarship. Trying to avoid having the book sound like it was written in nineteen ninety five [1995] and but published in two thousand and fourteen. The amount of new information that was coming up, I tried to keep current but…

AR:  Where do you see the future of the public history program?

BH:  Oh gosh, I have no idea.  Bob Weyeneth and Allison Marsh in charge – they really done such a great job of continuing the legacy of – the tradition – the pattern has been built up over the years. It seems to be just going full-steam ahead and I’m delighted by that. I would imagine they would keep going, keep pushing the thing foreword.

AR:  Absolutely.  It was certainly great to talk to you. You have such an amazing career and some amazing stories and experiences. Thank you so much for your time. I truly appreciate it.

End of Interview 1:05