Tourgee's Relevance Recognized


So, aside from occasional individual scholarly research, very little has been done to employ the content of this collection as a tool for social and political discourse and reflection on the struggles for American civil rights since the end of the American Civil War through today. The merits of the collection rest not simply on Tourgee’s eminence and expertise as a proponent and defender of civil and human rights, but also on the merits of the voices of those very citizens he fought alongside of for so long and so hard to rightfully establish their place in the American social and political fabric.

Recognizing that the voluminous selection of letters from every day and eminent people across the country might have some larger public impact beyond the scholarly queries it had been getting over the years, McClurg Museum Director, James O’Brien, applied for a National Humanities grant to run an exhibit and symposium on Albion Tourgee in 2008.

What Mr. O’Brien recognized was that this collection offers historians, teachers, students, genealogists, and anyone curious about the past a unique opportunity to utilize an authentic narrative approach in reflecting on and constructing a more meaningful understanding of the larger infrastructures of power and authority in the post-Civil War period of American history that finds relevance today. The access to multiple voices helps create a deeper context and more complex exposure to the everyday struggles for human and civil rights taking place in this country.

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Vignettes from a Feb. 24, 2009 interview with James O'Brien at Chautauqua Institution on his career at the McClurg Museum and his role in making the Albion Tourgee collection accessible.

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