The Visual History Summer Institute is an intensive workshop for historians to learn and utilize documentary film making. Designed by Michael van Wagenen, Ryan Noble, and Jason Knowles, the Institute takes a modern approach to public history. By adding historical documentaries to classrooms, museums, historical societies, and historical interpretation allows a richer story to be told. Hosted at Georgia Southern University, I took part in the second VHSI with seven other working historians.
The purpose of the Institute is to offer hands-on training with lighting, filming, audio, and editing equipment and programs. Learning the fundamentals of camera functions, shot set up, lighting, audio mixing, and video editing gave me the knowledge to create documentary films. This program was an opportunity to finally fulfill a lifelong dream, to make a movie, all the while tying in my love for history.
The eight VHSI students were split into two groups to work on separate documentary shorts. Each project will result in a five minute short to occumpany two new exhibits at the Georgia Southern University Museum. My group consisted of Kaytee Conner, Tania Sammons, Angie Winters, and myself. Our subject was the history and production of stone arrowheads. Wayne Akins, our local historian and flintknapper, walked us through the steps of turning a rock, in this case chert, into an arrowhead. We also interviewed him to understand some of the techniques he used to reverse engineer the entire process to find out that deer antler was the best tool to break the stone. This film will be featured along with displays of varying styles of arrowheads and projectile points, some dating 10,000 years old. Exhibit still under construction.
The society of visual history
At the 2017 National Council of Public History annual meeting in Indianapolis, IN, the Society of Visual History held its inaugural meeting. Michael van Wagenen, Ryan Noble, and Regan Everett spoke in front of a crowd to discuss documentaries by historians, the Institute, the Society, and the Ogeechee International History Film Festival. I was unable to attend due to finishing my masters and finishing my first historical documentary project, "Pensacola Punks."