CMS.633/833 Digital Humanities
Comparative Media Studies || MIT || Fall 2019
Anna Ivanov || Karyn Pugliese || Lucy Yip || Meesh Zucker
“We recognize our representations of space as value-laden guides to the world as we perceive it” -David J. Bodenhamer, “The Potential of Spatial Humanities”
Monuments venerate a person or commemorate an event, relevant to a social group’s collective memory, history.
In recent years communities are rethinking who and what they have memorialized, and if in fact the monuments are commemorating intolerance, violence and hate when viewed through a fuller understanding of history. Some memorials are being rethought, altered or removed. Once a memorial is removed, so is all visual evidence of the controversy. This project preserves the memory, and journey of the debates, controversies and changes. It opens up new ways to imagine the how memory and history is used in the public space, and challenges people to ask whose memory and whose history is preserved? The geographic scope of this project is limited to Boston.
The interactive map on the right allows filtering of current monumental database based on user selection and preferences. The geologcial map allows the monuments to be placed in their historical context, and displays relevant information on the left.
Male Female Within-Binary N/A Controversal / Vandalized
Drag slider / click    to specify geological timeframe
Hover above individual data entry on the map to display establish name, and click on individual data entry for more information
SEX  1,348 threads
This does not seem right...
Why are there only a handful of memorials of only woman in Boston?? Female veterans — historically the memorial’s biggest donor pool — have pulled back over the years, and today they often . . .
#memorial #sexism #veteran
NATIONAL  92,768 threads
Why Boston Has A Confederate Monument — And Why You Can't See It Right Now
Actually, right now you won't see it. The stone, the only Confederate monument . . .
#confederate #controversal #down
NATIONAL  17 threads
What do we even want to do to monuments we find offensive??
I guess we can add my home town of Boston to the list of cities facing questions . . .
RACE  239 threads
Reinforces the Need for Black History Month!
Located just a block from The Boston Common and Public Gardens on Park Square is sculptor . . .
#history #black #race
HISTORY  70 threads
Voting for putting this new object into the list of monument record
I came across this object from my grandfather's old house, and it seems. . .
#memorial #object #dataentry
RACE  18 threads
A monument to white supremacy standsuncontested in our own back yard
What, if anything, are we going to do about it?
HISTORY  428,930 threads
"Boston Grapples With Faneuil Hall, Named for a Slaveholder"
Hmmmmmm??? But its namesake, Peter Faneuil, one of the richest merchants in 18th century New England, was a slave owner. . .
TRIP  13 threads
Who wants to tread-along the woman's trail this weekend?
Hi! I'm new in town and staying till the end of the week. I was wondering if anyone on here is interested in coming with me this. . .
#meetandgreet #offline #event
The project began by thinking about personal memories embed meaning into objects and moved into a discussion of how objects are used to build collective memory, a collective history, a sense of progression to the present and a common vision for the future. Public symbols such as monuments, landmarks are generally built by the state and can be reflective or even manipulative in building a story. They create belonging and collectivity. They can also exclude and alienate.
The Beacon Hill Walk begins at the Massachusetts State House with the statues of two seventeenth century women religious dissenters. The walk continues up, down, and across Beacon Hill, often paralleling the Black Heritage Trail. Starting with intense activity in the period before and after the Civil War and continuing into the nineteenth century, women writers and artists living here supported social movements ranging from anti-slavery to suffrage. The walk pays particular attention to the story of Beacon Hill’s African American women and of Boston’s first women doctors and professional nurses. Beacon Hill is a designated Historic District with narrow, steep, sometimes cobblestone streets, and brick homes featuring beautiful doorways and window boxes. It was first developed by the Mount Vernon Proprietors in 1795. Charles Street along its western edge includes antique and specialty shops, restaurants, and grocery stores.
The Back Bay West Walk starts at Copley Square and ends at the Boston Women’s Memorial. Focusing on women of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the sites demonstrate the high energy devoted by women to the arts and education, pointing out educational institutions, clubs, and art associations as well as women’s sculptures.
The Back Bay, originally a mudflat, was filled in with gravel brought from suburban Needham by train between 1852 and 1890. The land is flat, with streets laid out in a straight grid. The cross streets are conveniently named alphabetically from A to H. This elegant neighborhood includes Commonwealth Avenue with its tree-lined mall of grass, center walking path, and sculptures, as well as the “uptown” shopping area with high-end stores, art galleries, and restaurants. The Back Bay East Walk starts and ends at the Public Garden. The sites highlight the work of women in the arts and in education, and women who led the way in environmental protection, suffrage, and peace.
The Downtown Walk begins at the State House and goes past many of Boston’s earliest historic sites, ending at Franklin and Washington streets, a block below Tremont Street and the Boston Common. The walk features women across the centuries, with a focus on the eighteenth century through the mid-nineteenth century. It includes women who wrote poetry, essays, and plays and spoke out publicly before members of the Massachusetts State Legislature and in Boston’s halls and churches for the abolition of slavery, woman suffrage, and African American and Native American rights. Boston’s downtown area is home to its business and financial institutions, as well as to a major shopping area and the Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall.
Since 1989, the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail (BWHT) has worked to restore women to their rightful place in the history of Boston and in the school curriculum by uncovering, chronicling, and disseminating information about the women who have made lasting contributions to the City of Boston.
In Boston, citizens are also rethinking public space, memory and inclusion. A confederate monument was removed from public space, in the wake of Charlottesville. What does it say about public memory that of more than 70 statues in public spaces only four honour women? A bright pink piece of paper taped to a monument in front of the university’s Wadsworth House reminds us of who is missing from public history and what stories are being hidden from collective memory. It reads: “This house was also a place of enslavement. Among those held in bondage in this building were: Titus, Venus, Juba, Bilhah.” As it turns out the note came from The Harvard and Slavery Project which began in 2007 to reclaim this history. Similarly can the annual vandalizing of statues of Columbus, with red paint and slogans of genocide be understood as subversive discourse in a public narrative that excludes Indigenous peoples and colonialism? Is there irony in a monument memorializing the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, it’s first all African- American regiment, should be named for Colonel Robert Gould Shaw a white man?
We would like to encourage you to input your personal stories/records of monuments that you would like to add to the living archive, where you can begin to tell the story of monuments in Boston from your perspective. Monuments in a space should reflect the values of those that live in that space, so we would like that to achieve that through you.
Associated Press “On Columbus Day, statue in Providence vandalized: ‘Stop celebrating genocide’” Oct. 14, 2019
Giaimo, Cara “College Students Are Annotating Their Campus Monuments With Notes on Slavery” in Atlasobscura Dec 14, 2015
Kalinowska, M. (2012). Monuments of memory: Defensive mechanisms of the collective psyche and their manifestation in the memorialization process. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 57(4), 425-444.
MacFarquhar Neil Charlottesville Lawsuit Puts Rising Intolerance on Trial in New York Times, Oct. 28, 2019
Nelson, L. (2018). Object Lesson: Monuments and Memory in Charlottesville. Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum, 25, 18-19
Tsai, G. (2016). The Morality of State Symbolic Power. Social Theory and Practice, 42(2), 318-342