A Week for our Members

 

This tweet, for me, sums up the experience of #UHA2018. Throughout the conference I was repeatedly struck by the collegiality, generosity, and support that our association’s members showed to one another. I heard several first-time attendees remark that this spirit is what set the UHA conference apart, in their minds, from their less intimate and more intimidating conference experiences.

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The South Carolina Supreme Court Building in Columbia, the capital city of the state. In 1971 the court moved into the Neo-classical building, an old post office building completed in 1921, photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, May 7, 2017, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

 

I should not have been surprised, because I have the great fortune to work regularly with UHA members who give freely of their time, with the utmost enthusiasm. The Metropole would not, could not, exist without our contributors volunteering their time to write and revise and find images and retweet our posts. The editors do not take it for granted, and are grateful for everyone who has believed in our vision for this public square.

This past week, I watched that vision actualize:

At the gala dinner, I was seated across from one of the University of South Carolina’s undergraduate history majors. Over paella they told me about their research on public housing in Atlanta, and because of the Member of the Week series I was able to connect them with Katie Schank, who writes on this very topic. They met the next day!

 

Without knowing that Amanda Seligman would attend our panel, I used a quote from her Digital Summer School post on the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee as the basis for my presentation. It was an honor to be the first person to ever quote Seligman to Seligman.

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A touch of Columbia’s vernacular architecture from the late 1970s, Greyhound Bus Depot, Columbia, South Carolina, photograph by John Margolies, 1979, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

For many attendees, the sites and architecture surrounding the conference–the Columbia State House, Main Street, modernist buildings, and U of SC campus–were all the more captivating for having read the Columbia Metropolis of the Month posts and having a foundational knowledge of the city’s history. I re-read Robert Greene’s post on the Congaree swamp during the drive down to Congaree State Park, which contextualized our visit and brought the swamp’s human history into focus.

So to everyone who has contributed or who will contribute in the future, and to everyone who shares and retweets and engages in conversation about the work of our members, it was a gift to spend the past week clapping for you and the strong association and field that you have helped to create.

Thank you. I am already counting down the days until Detroit and #UHA2020.

Avigail

Featured image (at top): Street scene, Columbia, S.C., 1909, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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