¡Escuchame! 5 Questions With Dr. Kathleen Franz

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is working on a new initiative, Escuchame: The History of Spanish Language Broadcasting in the U.S.  The museum has rich collections related to television, but few that tell the story of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. This initiative will document stories from early Telemundo and Univision stations as well as other public and independent stations. Documenting these stories will help show the influence these stations have had on the national narrative and the way the history of American television is written.

Portrait of Dr. Kathleen Franz

Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair of Work & Industry and Curator of Business History at the National Museum of American History.

To understand more, and how our Affiliate network may participate, I asked five questions of Dr. Kathleen Franz, Chair of Work & Industry and Curator of Business History at the National Museum of American History.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be interested in your area of expertise?
In graduate school, I studied with one of the leading historians of advertising history in the U.S. and really became enthusiastic about the history of television and advertising as business history but also as popular culture. My work sits at the intersections of those two things.

Your current project centers on capturing the history of Spanish-language television in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. What sparked that idea and why is it important to capture this story?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and saw first-hand the long history and power of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. through the pioneering station of KWEX whose roots go back to the 1950s. However, general and popular histories of television often leave out the history of Spanish-language TV in the golden era of the 1950s and 1960s. So, building an archive that housed, preserved, and made available the stories of women and men who created stations and the networks is really important, because the earliest Spanish-language broadcasting goes back to the era of radio in the 1930s, and the earliest television stations are there in the golden era with the first successful network, Spanish International Network (SIN), created in 1961.

A common thread to this huge collection of materials—time-worn press credentials, painted tennis shoes, photographs, mic flags, scripts—is that they represent decades of Spanish-language broadcasting from the network Telemundo. (NMAH)

What have you enjoyed most about this initiative? What has been an unexpected discovery, if any?
First, I have two wonderful collaborators at the museum, Dr. Mireya Loza, curator, Department of Work and Industry, and Melinda Machado, director, Office of Communications and Marketing, who have helped make contact with stations around the country and we’ve done the oral history and object collecting as a team. I’ve learned so much from working with them and meeting the various people who run the stations and put the programming on every day. We also had tremendous support from a private donor — of the Nicolas family in San Antonio who founded KCOR in 1954— the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, Telemundo, and Univision. I can’t name everyone here but I am so grateful for the support of the networks! This has been a serious collaboration to capture and preserve this history. One of the best, and unexpected discoveries, was a painting of the Televisa studios in Mexico City commissioned by Emilio Nicolas in the early 1960s. It’s so unusual to have an artist’s rendition of a TV set and the image captures the look and feel of that exciting era in television. Mr. Nicolas traveled regularly to Mexico City to produce programming at the studio and bring it back to the US Spanish-speaking market for SIN.

What would you like to share with Affiliates? And what would you like Affiliates to share with you?
I’m always delighted to talk to local audiences and I would be happy to talk about the collecting and sharing resources with Affiliates. In turn, it would help us to work with Affiliates to do collecting or memory days at their sites, especially ones who are in cities with long-running Spanish-language stations. We really want to capture what audiences thought and how they viewed and used the stations in their own lives.

What is your next project and what are you looking forward to with it?
Dr. Loza and I would like to publish an edited volume of the oral histories and we’ll be working on that over the next 18 months or so. I’m also currently working on the National Museum of American History’s major women’s history initiative exhibition for the centennial of Women’s suffrage. That exhibition will open at the museum in 2020 and then travel the country starting in 2021.

Dr. Franz is open to the possibility of visiting our Affiliate network in the fall to share more about this initiative. Do you have connections to Spanish-language television history? Contact your National Outreach Manager for more information about bringing Dr. Franz to your neighborhood.

Telemundo Microphone cubes

This series of microphone cubes used over the years by Telemundo 51 WSCV-TV in Florida was donated by Marilys Llanos, senior political reporter at at the station. (Photo by Laura Duff, Smithsonian Institution)

Kudos Affiliates! June 2018

Congratulations to these Affiliates on their recent accomplishments! Do you have a kudos to share? Please send potential kudos to Aaron Glavas, GlavasC@si.edu.

Funding

Conner Prairie (Fishers, Indiana) announced a partnership with Ritz Charles to invest approximately $3 million to renovate and expand Eli Lilly’s historic Chinese House. Support for the project includes a $500,000 pledge from Jay and Nancy Ricker, the founders of Ricker Oil Company, Inc., and a $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Rhode Island Council for the Humanities announced a total of $136,429 in new grants to 14 humanities initiatives across the state including the Rhode Island Historical Society (Providence). The Society received a $12,000 Documentary Films grant to support films that preserve Rhode Island’s stories and bring its history to life.  The funding goes towards the development of the film Triple Decker, A New England Love Story.

DaVinci at New Mexico Museum of Natural History and ScienceThe New Mexico Humanities Council awarded a $5,000 grant to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science to support its series of education programs, Da Vinci Dialogues. The Dialogues consist of public lectures, panel discussions, and workshops that illustrate the many facets of Da Vinci’s genius as an artist, inventor, and scientist.

Awards and Recognition

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) has named the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (Dubuque, Iowa) the “Silos & Smokestacks People’s Site of the Year.”

During the Pennsylvania Museums Annual Statewide Museum Conference, the winners of statewide Institutional Achievement Awards were announced including two Senator John Heinz History Center sites. Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village was recognized for its newest educational curriculum, First Peoples: Archaeology at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter. The Fort Pitt Museum at Point State Park, Downtown, was recognized for its newest exhibition, From Maps to Mermaids: Carved Powder Horns in Early America.

Leadership Changes

W. James Burns has been named the new executive director of the Arizona Historical Society (Phoenix, Arizona). Dr. Burns comes to the Arizona Historical Society from the University of Arizona, where he served as Director of the Center for Creative Photography and the University of Arizona Museum of Art.

W. James Burns, Ph.D., Executive Director, Arizona Historical Society, Phoenix, AZ

Coming Up in Affiliateland in May 2018

Look at all the activity blooming in Affiliateland this spring!

PENNSYLVANIA
The Heinz History Center hosts a talk and tasting with National Museum of American History curator Paula Johnson on Making Wine at Home as a complement to their current exhibition on Prohibition, in Pittsburgh, 5.6.18.

The Mercer Museum will open Racing: A Need for Speed exhibition featuring 7 artifact loans from the National Museum of American History, in Doylestown, 5.12.18.

A new exhibition at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

NEW YORK
The Center for Jewish History hosts National Air and Space Museum curator Dr. Valerie Neal for a talk on the history of Jewish astronauts and their achievements as part of their Jews in Orbit: Meet an Astronaut program in Manhattan, 5.7.18

MASSACHUSETTS
The Tsongas Industrial History Center will host Teacher Creativity Studios: Asian Pacific American Cultural Presence in the Classroom workshops in collaboration with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access on the Lowell National Historical Park site in Lowell, 5.12.18.

FLORIDA
The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science will host ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert family day in collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center in Miami, 5.12.18.

¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert family program will be coming to Miami with the Smithsonian Latino Center

Things Come Apart an exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service opens at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, 5.26.18.

MAINE
The Abbe Museum will host its inaugural Indian Market, with a film series curated by Elizabeth Weatherford, Founder and Emeritus Director of the Film and Video Center at the National Museum of the American Indian, in Bar Harbor, 5.18-20.18.

MARYLAND
Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center will open the exhibition Of a Feather: Birds in Art juried by Jennifer Daniels, landscape architect at the Smithsonian National Zoo, in Solomons, 5.25.18.

Coming up in Affiliateland in April 2018

Spring activity is blooming across the country!

MASSACHUSETTS
The Tsongas Industrial History Center at the Lowell National Historical Park will offer a Teacher Creativity Studios: Asian Pacific American Cultural Presence in the Classroom workshop for teachers with the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access in Lowell, 4.7.

Dr. John Grant, geologist with the Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS), in front of a full-scale model of the Mars Rover Curiosity, will be a featured speaker at Framingham State University in Massachusetts.

Framingham State University will feature a talk by National Air and Space Museum scientist John Grant on moving the Mars rovers as part of the Science on State Street Festival in Framingham,  4.21.

PENNSYLVANIA
Attendees to the National Association of Automobile Museums conference will spend a day at the Smithsonian for talks and tours, thanks to conference organizer the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, 4.10.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Teen teams from the Upcountry History Museum (SC), Fort Worth Museum of Science and History (TX), Arab American National Museum(MI), Rockwell Museum (NY), and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (OH) will digitally connect to the Smithsonian Secretary’s Youth Advisory Council meeting in Washington, 4.11.

NEW YORK
The Art + Science lecture series continues with a talk on Native responses to the environment by National Museum of the American Indian educator Ed Schupman at the Rockwell Museum in Corning, 4.12.

MISSOURI
The St. Louis Science Center opens SITES’ Destination Moon exhibition in St. Louis, 4.14.

CONNECTICUT
Mystic Seaport hosts a talk by National Museum of Natural History geologist Liz Cottrell on Expeditions to Arctic Volcanoes as part of its Adventure Series in Mystic, 4.19.

Mountain Climber by Rockwell Kent, 1933, is headed to Oregon thanks to the High Desert Museum. (woodcut on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Peter E. Blau and Andrew J. Blau in memory of their father, Alan J. Blau)

OREGON
The High Desert Museum will open Ascent: Climbing Explored exhibition featuring artifact loans including two paintings, brushes and palettes from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Bend, 4.28.

Five questions with Amanda Moniz, Curator of Philanthropy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History

Headshot of Amanda MonizWhat do we love more than helping you navigate the Smithsonian? Sending someone from the Smithsonian to your neighborhood! Our people are our greatest resource and when new curators join the Smithsonian family, we like to share their stories with our network. This week, I had the chance to ask a few questions of Amanda Moniz, Curator of Philanthropy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, about her career. Read on to learn why she’s eager to share her passion with Affiliates. Interested in bringing a Smithsonian speaker to your organization? Contact your National Outreach Manager!

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got to the Smithsonian. What exactly is a curator of Philanthropy?

I’m an early American historian specializing in the history of philanthropy. My first book, From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism, explores how Americans and Britons rebuilt their relationships after the Revolutionary rupture through humanitarian collaboration and, in the process, transformed philanthropy.

Before I joined the staff of the Smithsonian, I worked at the National History Center of the American Historical Association. Its mission is to bring historical perspectives into public and policy conversations so that job provided great experience for this position with its emphasis on engaging the public in exploring history.

A lot of people ask what a curator of philanthropy is! My job entails collecting objects that tell stories about the history of Americans’ gifts of time, talent, and treasure for the public good; working on exhibitions; researching and writing, and sharing stories about the history of giving in other ways such as through social media.

It has been a little over a year since you began at the Smithsonian. What have you enjoyed most about working at the National Museum of American History? And what are you looking forward to?

I love hearing people’s stories about giving. Most Americans give their time or resources in some way, shape, or form. I’ve talked with visitors, colleagues, well-known philanthropists, and people who work in nonprofits, and heard amazing stories about what giving and receiving has meant in their lives and their families’ lives. Their stories inspire me as I think about my work.

I’m really excited about building the philanthropy collection. A lot of people are initially surprised at the idea of exploring the history of giving through objects. I think the collection has the potential to open new perspectives on the role of philanthropy on the forming and re-forming of our nation.

So far, what is the most amazing artifact you’ve come across and why? What story does it tell?

I recently acquired a basically unknown portrait of Eliza Hamilton, the widow of Alexander Hamilton. She and other women founded a charity known as the Orphan Asylum Society of the City of New York in 1806 when women in the United States were new to organized benevolence. (The organization is still in existence and now known as Graham Windham. The painting was generously donated by Graham Windham.) The portrait was painted in the mid-1800s and shows her as an older woman. Her resolute look and direct gaze are captivating. I also love the portrait because it helps us tell the story of the emergence and development of women’s philanthropy.

How does one collect philanthropy?

The history of philanthropy is the story of people mobilizing resources (of time, talent, and treasure) to support causes and institutions in hopes of having an impact. I’m looking for artifacts that help us understand the various dimensions of those developments from a range of perspectives.

The first object I collected was a nest box used in bluebird conservation. Nest boxes provide habitats for bluebirds and have helped revive the populations of the bird, which had fallen because development had disrupted the birds’ habitats. The nest box is a great object because it helps to effect the change bluebird conservation advocates are pursuing.

You’ve mentioned that sharing is “perhaps the most fun part of a curator’s job.” We have Affiliates in 46 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama and we are always looking for ways to share Smithsonian resources with them. What would you like to share with them?

I’d love to let our Affiliates know about some of our online resources.

Later in March, we’ll be adding a section on “Giving and the Arts” to the online version of Giving in America. (“Giving and the Arts” will replace the case on environmental philanthropy in the physical exhibition on March 22.) In addition to the online exhibition, we have a website for the Smithsonian’s Philanthropy Initiative with videos, links to blog posts, and more. We also have robust social media focused on philanthropy, and I hope folks will join the conversation. I love sharing what I’m learning and am eager to learn from others!

Follow us at:

• Philanthropy Blog Posts: http://s.si.edu/PhilanthropyBlog
• Facebook: National Museum of American History
• Instagram and Twitter: @amhistorymuseum

BONUS: Read Amanda’s blog from April 2017 shortly after she joined our Smithsonian family.

Amanda Moniz is the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy in the Division of Home and Community Life. The Philanthropy Initiative is made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and David M. Rubenstein, with additional support by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees’ Initiative, a grantmaking program of Fidelity Charitable.