Well, I have returned home having thoroughly enjoyed myself in Richmond for the past few days. This morning I took in a final session on national reconciliation and the development of southern tourism in the wake of Reconstruction. It was a very interesting panel, which included a presentation on the development of Somerset Place as a state historic site in the 1940s-1960s. The presenter was Alisa Harrison, a Ph.D candidate at Duke University. Her dissertation is a history of Somerset Place and I can't wait to see it. Hopefully it will get picked up by one of the presses and published as a book. Karen Cox, director of the public history program at UNC-Charlotte, also gave an interesting presentation as part of the same panel.
After the session I breezed through the publisher's displays one last time as most of them were running 50% off deals or some other such bargain. I wound up spending more than I should have, but I got some really great deals on some excellent books. I was able to remove three titles from my Amazon.com wish list as a result. Of course, I added five or six new titles to that list at the same time.
All in all it was a good conference. I became reacquainted with some folks I hadn't seen in quite a while, and met a lot of new colleagues as well. Some academic historians might find it odd that a public history type like myself would attend a conference such as this. Truth be told, more public history folks probably should attend these conferences in order to keep up with current scholarship, which will in turn influence their interpretations of the past. I think it is also beneficial to have connections to the academic world because in the end it can lead to collaborative efforts that benefit everyone. I'll probably have to miss SHA next year, as it is in New Orleans (a bit farther than I can probably realistically expect to go). But, after a stop in Louisville in 2009, the SHA comes to Charlotte in 2010! I can't wait!