¡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)

Coming Up in Affiliateland in June 2018

ARIZONA

The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum will open the Smithsonian exhibition Water/Ways which focuses on the relationships between people and water, in Bisbee, 6.2.

PENNSYLVANIA

The Heinz History Center hosts History on Tap featuring a talk by Theresa McCulla, historian of the American Brewing History Initiative at the National Museum of American History, on how Prohibition influenced the alcohol industry, in Pittsburgh, 6.3.

TEXAS

Space Center Houston hosts Allan Needell, curator of space history at the National Air and Space Museum, who will talk about the Saturn V rocket, in Houston, 6.7.

WYOMING

Soon to be on view in Wyoming, George Catlin’s, Buffalo Chase with Bows and Lances, 1832-1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Harrison, Jr.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West opens the exhibition Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West which features three George Catlin paintings on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Cody, 6.8.

TENNESSEE

The International Storytelling Center will screen First Ladies Revealed: Twists of Fate, a program from the Smithsonian Channel, in Jonesborough, 6.11.

MARYLAND

The Smithsonian Associates lead a day-long Natural History of the Mid-Atlantic tour which will make a stop at Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Solomons, 6.16.

WEST VIRGINIA

The Heritage Farm Museum and Village will screen the Smithsonian Channel’s program  Aerial America: West Virginia in Huntington, 6.20, 23.

FLORIDA

The Polk Museum of Art opens the exhibition The Von Wagner Code featuring the etching Roman Chariot Race, on loan from the National Museum of American History, in Lakeland, 6.23.

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.

Coming Up in Affiliateland in March 2018

D. C.
Affiliate participants in the Will to Adorn project from the Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco) and the Institute of Texan Cultures (San Antonio) will discuss their work with students as part of the Youth Access Grant Forum in Washington on 3.1.

Curator Leslie Przybylek from the Heinz History Center (Pittsburgh) will be a panelist in the program  Innovative Lives: How Women Shaped the Alcohol Industry at the National Museum of American History, 3.16.

PENNSYLVANIA
The African American Museum in Philadelphia  will screen the Smithsonian Channel program  The Lost Tapes: Malcolm X in Philadelphia, 3.1.

Jasper Francis Cropsey, The Coast of Genoa, 1854, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Aileen B. Train, Helen B. Spaulding and Julia B. Key

FLORIDA
The Polk Museum of Art will exhibit Jasper Cropsey’s The Coast of Genoa, a painting on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Lakeland, starting 3.3.

CONNECTICUT
The Connecticut Historical Society will host a lecture and book signing by Dr. Richard Kurin on The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects in Hartford, 3.5.

KENTUCKY
The Frazier History Museum will host an exhibition on The Magnificent Mona Bismarck, who donated fashion collections to the National Museum of American History, opening in Louisville, 3.15.

NEW YORK
The Rockwell Museum will host a talk by curator Matilda McQuaid of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum as part of their Art + Science lecture series in Corning, 3.22.

WASHINGTON
The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience will host a workshop entitled  Teacher Creativity Studios: APA Cultural Presence in the Classroom in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Center for Learning and Digital Access in Seattle, 3.24.