I have long felt history has more to do with the present and future, than the past. What do we choose to remember and memorialize? What gets passively forgotten through neglect? What gets actively erased, or "reconfigured?" The past allows for there to be a second point relative to the present. You get a kind of trajectory that can imply the future, suggesting what might be needed to either stay the course or change course of preferred.
I have put a particular focus on research and writing related to what I feel are lesser told histories, such as the stories and voices of veterans' stories of service, women, immigrants, and Persons of Color, especially African American studies. I have also put a focus on both traditional and new ways of speaking about local history by supporting documentary theater, advocating for physical monuments and memorials, creating teaching aids, being active as a Wikipedia contributor, and supporting all forms of digital communication which can offer broad access at less cost.
Our perception of the past, what we call history, is not fixed, nor should it be. History needs to be constantly rewritten, as the historian Lucy Maynard Salmon described so eloquently a century ago. My goal is to identify, preserve, and creatively share the stories of the past as a guide to the present and future. This an open workspace, please feel free to comment. ~ Bill Jeffway
History Speaks. Listen. Learn.
Recent Exhibitions, Books, Videos Produced
Pre-Civil War Rural African American Experience in Mid-Hudson Valley
Northampton, MA Topics
Milan, Dutchess County, NY
I have always found local history rich in experience and reward, giving context and perspective across time, geography, and community. I hope to help others understand similarly, as a powerful, accessible means of learning.
In addition to understanding common, shared experiences across generations and centuries, I find it fascinating to come to understand the degree to which we all perceive historical “facts” and embed them in narratives shaped by our own biases (consciously or unconsciously) which in turn gives us an insight into ourselves.
One of my favorite quotes: [We] map what we see, marking some features, ignoring others. History is not the past, but a map of the past, drawn from a particular point of view to be useful to the modern traveler.~Henry Glassie, Professor of Folklore.