What Did the War Cost?

Emerging Civil War

For the last few weeks, I have been serving a detail to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park as a park historian.

After a walking tour of the Sunken Road on the Fredericksburg Battlefield, I received the following question:

“What did the war cost?”

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conversion concerns

think | architect


Converting a residential building to a commercial use gives me concern.

Converting old (unoccupied) buildings to new occupancies raises even more concern.

This is part of my daily job.

How do we do this? What questions should you ask if you’re considering this as a business or property owner?


In my world as an architect I am frequently contacted to review existing buildings that someone wishes to convert to commercial uses. In many of these cases I find out that the existing building started out as some type of residential use. With many early 1900’s buildings the construction is wood floor/roof construction with masonry walls. Long before we can address energy or sustainability concerns, we must address the many life safety and accessibility concerns.

Local building codes will vary, but these are generally the same everywhere in the U.S. As for determining what is applicable for existing buildings, contact an…

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Making Public Outreach the Norm in Archaeology

Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology

A recent exchange on Facebook prompted TCPA President Dr. Tanya Peres to think more about public archaeology, and the best practices for archaeological professionals when it comes to conducting public outreach and education.   

Tanya M. Peres, PhD, RPA
President, Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology
Director, Rutherford County Archaeology Research Program

Chances are you do archaeology because you have a passion for the past. How often do non-archaeologists remark that you have the coolest job, then launch into a litany of questions about what you do, what you find, where you’ve worked? Public interest in archaeology and the past is at an all time high. Yet, many archaeologists still shy away from actively participating in regular public outreach. I’m here to confess, I used to be one of them. Then I realized, this is not an “all or nothing” proposition. Yes, there are archaeologists that specialize in public archaeology/outreach. They…

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The Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory: A Model Facility

C.A.R.T. Archaeology

by Denice Dressel Lab Archaeologist & Preservation Specialist

Colchester Archaeological Research Team (CART) is part of the Cultural Resource Management and Protection Branch (CRMPB) of the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA). One of CRMPB’s responsibilities is to serve as the repository for archaeological collections excavated in Fairfax County, both on parkland and county wide. According to Fairfax County Park Authority’s Cultural Resource Management Plan, CRMPB’s Archaeological Collections now houses over three million artifacts, all from Fairfax County sites.

I recently had the pleasure of touring the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory (MAC Lab), part of the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, in Calvert County, Maryland. Similar to CRMPB’s role as the archaeological collections repository for Fairfax County, the MAC Lab is Maryland’s state archaeological collections facility, responsible for the permanent curation of Maryland’s archaeological collections. Dr. Patricia Samford, Director of the MAC Lab, estimates that the facility houses between seven…

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High Cotton: When Virginia’s Counties Hit Their Peak

Succinct history of population and growth in Virginia.

Stat Chat

If you grew up in one of Northern Virginia's Historical PopulationVirginia’s suburban counties, such as Prince William, or in any of Virginia’s metro areas, you likely grew up with the impression that growth is as certain as the seasons. For decades, many counties in Virginia have grown relentlessly, constructing thousands of homes each year to house new residents. With more residents come more schools, roads, offices and shops. Except for the hard times around the Civil War, Virginia’s population as a whole has grown continuously since it was a colony.

But outside Virginia’s largest urban areas, population growth is not a fact of life. In 2013, the population of most of Virginia’s counties and cities had declined from when it peaked in the past.Peak Population3

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Planning for the Future; not Scrambling for the Past

I’ve always thought of myself as a “bad” preservationist because I believe that the places that we preserve need to have meaning and purpose to the present and future generations. I’m glad I’m not the only dissenting voice.

Time Tells

I was re-reading one of my blogs from nine years ago (430 posts now – I guess I am about consistency and endurance whether I like it or not) and was struck (again) by my (consistent) non-ideological approach to heritage conservation. That blog “Heresy and Apostasy” basically took to task the concept that preservation had some kind of ideological purity and that those who didn’t try to save absolutely everything all the time were not “true” preservationists.

just say NO!3s

I recalled my youth in the field, when I did come close to that position, but it was never one I was completely comfortable with. First, ideologies sit outside of history and thus fail all tests of time. Second and more to the point, I began my career working on a heritage area – the first in the U.S. – and the goals there were historic preservation, natural area preservation, recreation, and economic…

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#hist3812a video games and simulations for historians, batting around some syllabus ideas

History is going to look like nothing we have seen before.

Electric Archaeology

I’ve been batting around ideas for my video games class, trying to flesh them out some more. I put together a twine-based exploration of some of my ideas in this regard a few weeks ago; you can play it here. Anyway, what follows below is just me thinking out loud. The course runs for 12 weeks. (O my students, the version of the syllabus you should trust is the one that I am obligated to put on cuLearn).

What does Good History Through Gaming Look Like?

How do we know? Why should we care? What could we do with it, if we had it? Is it playing that matters, or is it building? Can a game foster critical play? What is critical play, anyway? ‘Close reading’ can happen not just of text, but also of code, and of experience. It pulls back the curtain (link to my essay discussing…

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