Strickland Visiting Scholar Program


Spring 2021 Strickland
Distinguished Scholars Webinar Series

April 8 & April 22, 2021

Diverse Histories for a Diverse Nation

Conversations with public intellectuals on the relevance of history to contemporary times.
Hosted by Dr. Martha Norkunas, Professor of Oral and Public History, MTSU

Martha Norkuans

Join leading thinkers as they reflect on the challenges and nuances of presenting history with and for diverse publics; the intersections of memory, history and the silencing of Black and indigenous pasts; race, slavery, and the Civil War in American memory; and the role of the National Park Service in understanding the past.


Abolition, Secession and the Interpretation of
Diverse Histories at the National Park Service

Thursday, April 22, 2021. 7:00-8:30 pm CST

Co-hosted by Drs. Martha Norkunas and Nedra Lee

Zoom Link

Join us for a conversation featuring:

Image of Rolf Diamont
Mr. Rolf Diamont, former superintendent of Frederick Law Olmsted Natonial Historic Site and author of the forthcoming Olmsted and Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition and The National Park Idea.

Image of Bill Gwaltney
Mr. Bill Gwaltney, fromer federal employee who worked with the National Park Service, the National Museum of African American Histoty and Culture, and the American Battle Monuments Commission

Mage of Dwight Pitcaithley
Dr. Dwight Pitcaithley, former cheif historian of the National Park Service and author/editor of
The U.S. Consitution and Secession: A Documentary Anthology of Slavery and White Supremacy

Race, Gender, Indigeneity, and the
Meaning of Narrative and Excavated Pasts

Thursday, April 8, 2021. 7:00-8:30 pm CST

Hosted by Dr. Martha Norkunas

Zoom Link

Join us for a conversation featuring:

Image of Maria Franklin

Dr. Maria Franklin, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas Austin and a historic archaeologist of the Black experience from the colonial period to the early 20th century

Image of Kendra Field

Dr. Kendra Field, Associate Professor in the Department of History at Tufts University and author of Growing Up with the Country: Family, Race, and Nation after the Civil War 

Image of Nedra Lee

Dr. Nedra Lee, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a historic archaeologist specializing in the African Diaspora, gender, critical race studies, and processess of racial formation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.



Moderator of Audience InteractiveDr. Brad Wright
Moderator of Audience Interactive for both webinars

Spring 2021 Speaker Bios

Bill Gwaltney retired from federal service after nearly four decades. His work included time with the National Park Service, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian Institution) and the American Battle Monuments Commission, a federal agency that cares for American overseas military cemeteries. Mr. Gwaltney's career made it important for him to connect with African American History, Latino History, American Indian History and both the fur trade and military histories of the 19th century. He was the former NPS Assistant Regional Director of the Intermountain Region where he was responsible for building relationships with diverse communities and diversifying the workforce in park sites from Montana to the Mexican border. He helped found Company “B” of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, a group of African American Civil War reenactors and “Old Stories, New Voices,” a multicultural youth camp. He also worked with Fort Union National Monument in New Mexico to help form a living-history group depicting Hispanic soldiers who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. Mr. Gwaltney previously served as President of the Association of African American Museums and was on the board of the National Association for Interpretation.

Rolf Diamant is adjunct associate professor in the Department of History, University of Vermont, and is a board member and recent chair of Vermont Humanities.  In his former career with the National Park Service, Rolf directed Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, both of which address conservation history and the creation of the national park system.  His column on the place of national parks in American society regularly appears in the journal Parks Stewardship Forum published by the University of California and the George Wright Society.  Rolf is co-editor and contributing author of A Thinking Person’s Guide To America’s National Parks; his newest book Olmsted And Yosemite: Civil War, Abolition, And The National Park Idea is due out in late 2021.

Nedra K. Lee is an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology department at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin, and her research interests include the archaeology of the African Diaspora, gender, critical race studies, and processes of racial formation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She has conducted research on historic black sites in Texas that have included extensive collaboration with descendant communities and is excited to expand her research to the past lives and experiences of black people in New England. She has received funding from the Ford Foundation and the Texas Historical Commission.  Her research has also been published in the Journal of Historical Archaeology, the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage, and Transforming Anthropology.

Maria Franklin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas-Austin. She is a historical archaeologist whose interests include gender, race and racism, public archaeology, and the African diaspora. Franklin has conducted archaeological excavations in Virginia and Texas related to the Black experience from the colonial period to the early 20th century. A number of her authored and co-authored publications have appeared in American AntiquityHistorical Archaeology, the International Journal of Historical Archaeology, and the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage. Franklin is currently conducting research on the freedmen’s settlement known as Antioch Colony in Texas, and community outreach with the Bolivar Archeological Project in Denton County, Texas (funded by the Texas Department of Transportation).

Dwight T. Pitcaithley has devoted his career to public history and the preservation of national parks. Until mid-2005 he was Chief Historian with the National Park Service, responsible for the management and preservation of the country’s national resources. He was an advocate for high quality interpretive programs based on current historical scholarship. He served as President of the National Council for Public History in 1998 and on the editorial boards of The Public Historian and The Journal of American History. Since 1993, Dr. Pitcaithley has taught history at the university level, first at George Mason University and more recently at New Mexico State University. He authored The U.S. Constitution and Secession: A Documentary Anthology of Slavery and White Supremacy (2018) and published numerous articles and chapters pertaining to public memory, the role of historic sites in public education, and on the public interpretation of the causes of the Civil War. Tennessee Secedes: A Documentary History will be published later this year by the University of Tennessee Press. Dr. Pitcaithley was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 2012; received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of North Carolina in 2011; the Organization of American Historians' Distinguished Service Award in 2005; the National Council on Public History’s Robert Kelley Memorial Award in 2006; and was Middle Tennessee State University’s Visiting Distinguished Public Historian in 2006.

Kendra Taira Field is Associate Professor in History and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University. Field is the author of Growing Up with the Country: Family, Race, and Nation after the Civil War (Yale University Press, 2018), which traced her own ancestors’ migratory lives in the black towns and settlements of Indian Territory and Oklahoma.  Her current book project is The Stories We Tell: A History of African American Genealogy from the Middle Passage to the Present. Previously, she abridged David Levering Lewis' Pulitzer-prize winning W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography (Henry Holt, 2009). Recently, Field co-convened a 2019-2020 Mellon Sawyer Seminar on the politics of genealogy and kinship.  Field has been awarded fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Huntington Library, and Harvard University's Charles Warren Center in American History. She is the recipient of the Western Writers of America's, 2017 Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, the 2016 Boahen-Wilks Prize, the OAH's Huggins-Quarles Award, and was a finalist for the Museum of African American History's Stone Book Prize. Field has advised and appeared in numerous historical documentaries including Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s “The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross" (2013) and "Roots: A History Revealed" (2016). Field serves as historical consultant for the Clinton Church Preservation project, a new museum dedicated to the life of W.E.B. Du Bois and black heritage in New England. Field received her Ph.D. in American History from New York University. She also holds a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. from Williams College. Before entering the academy, she worked in the education and non-profit sector in Boston and New York.

Martha Norkunas is Professor of Oral and Public History in the Public History Program at Middle Tennessee State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University’s Folklore Institute. She is the author of The Politics of Public Memory: Tourism, History and Ethnicity in Monterey, California (1993) and Monuments and Memory: History and Representation in Lowell, Massachusetts (2002) as well as various articles in national and international journals. Her current book project is an examination of nuanced listening in interpersonal dialogue. Norkunas’s research examines the representations of cultural memory in narrative and on the landscape, and how those representations intersect with race, gender, class and power. From 1999-2009 Norkunas directed the Project in Interpreting the Texas Past at the University of Texas at Austin where she taught interdisciplinary teams of graduate students to think critically about memory, history, and culture and to create more diverse and inclusive interpretations at Texas historic sites. Norkunas directs the African American Oral History Project as well as a number of thematic oral history projects. She is the recipient of fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Houston Endowment. She is a former board member of the National Council on Public History and currently serves on the board of the International Oral History Association.

Brad H. Wright is a historian of the Americas whose research focuses on post-1968 Mexico, urban and environmental history, rural migration, popular political culture, religion, class, and social movements. He teaches history at Colorado Mesa University and Cumberland University. He has a PhD in public history from Middle Tennessee State University, with specialization in oral history. Wright is working on a book tentatively titled, “The Counternarratives of Doña Lucha: Class, Power, and Women’s Leadership in Mexico’s Urban Popular Movements (1965-1994).” His research in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico has been funded by the Social Science Research Council.


Fall 2020 Strickland Visiting Scholar

Dr. Hammonds gave a public webinar, "Confronting COVID-19: Medicine, History, and Public Health" on October 22. In this lecture, Dr. Hammonds shared her current research on the historical factors that have led to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African American communities in the United States. Click here to watch the recording. 

About the Strickland Visiting Scholar Program

The Strickland Visiting Scholar Program, created out of the Roscoe L. Strickland Jr. Endowment, gives students the opportunity to meet scholars with diverse historical backgrounds. Distinguished scholars visit MTSU's campus for two weeks. During that time, they instruct classes, give public lectures, and offer brown bag talks. These lectures and discussions are opportunities for the visiting scholars to present their own research and areas of expertise to the MTSU community. 

Roscoe and Lucy Strickland

Roscoe and Lucy Strickland

Roscoe L. Strickland Jr. joined the faculty of Middle Tennessee State University in 1949. He was one of the founding members of the University's History Department in 1963. During the department's first year, Professor Strickland also established the M.A. and M.A.T. degrees in History. In 1966, he was elected as the first President of the Faculty Senate, and was a charter member of the Pi Sigma chapter of Pi Alpha Theta in 1970. Dr. Strickland left MTSU in 1972 to become President of Southern Seminary Junior College in Virginia. It was after his death in 1997 that his wife Lucy Strickland established the Roscoe L. Strickland Jr. Endowment for advancing the study of history.

Mrs. Strickland, a one-time faculty member of MTSU herself, was a great supporter of the program and attended many lectures by the Strickland scholars. She was also the first President of the Murfreesboro League of Women Voters. Mrs. Strickland pursued law at the Law School of Washington & Lee University and graduated in 1976. When she and Dr. Strickland moved back to North Carolina, she opened her own law practice. In 1988, the two moved back to Murfreesboro. Mrs. Strickland continued and finished her law career with Kidwell, South & Beasley and served on the MTSU Foundation from 1996 to 2002 as both a Trustee and Member. She passed away in 2008, and the family created a scholarship fund for the music department in her honor.

Strickland Visiting Scholars 1999-Present

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