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J. Emmons, Jr. is an architectural historian with a master's degree in
historic preservation (University of Delaware, 2014) and a master's in
history (University of Connecticut, 2004). During his master's studies in
historic preservation, Michael worked at the Center for Historic
Architecture and Design (CHAD), where his preservation-related projects
included extensive field documentation, historic district surveys,
National Register nominations, photo documentation of historic sites,
AutoCAD drawing, and research and writing of evaluative reports. In
addition to his year-long masters capstone portfolio, Michael embarked
on a major research project evaluating American country house
architecture, the du Pont family, and their influence on Wilmington’s
residential landscape. To support his research, Michael was selected as a
DelPHI Summer Fellow (2013) through the Center for Material Culture
Michael’s background in public history, preservation,
and vernacular architecture is wide ranging, including three years of
teaching college history, government, and geography at NSCC in Ohio,
five years as a real estate agent selling historic properties in
Connecticut, and many years of blogging about historic architecture,
preservation, and real estate at www.HistoricHouseBlog.com. While
at the University of Connecticut, he worked as a guide at Old
Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts and The Mark Twain House in
Hartford. Michael was also selected for a competitive archival
internship at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, where he trained in
collections processing and accessioning. Michael chaired the graduate
student committee during the search for the current Connecticut State
Historian. In Ohio, he set the agenda and was facilitator at the first
meeting of the State of Ohio’s Commission for the Commemoration of the
War of 1812. Michael’s public history internships as an undergraduate
included living history portrayals at the “Canal Experience” in Toledo
and Historic Sauder Village.
Michael passed his exams in April 2016, and his proposal presentation in December 2016, and is now working on his dissertation. His dissertation committee members are: J. Ritchie Garrison, Chair (Director, Winterthur Program in American Material Culture), Sandy Isenstadt (ARTH), Martin Brueckner (ENG), Lu Ann DeCunzo (ANTH) and external member: Robert Saint-George (UPenn).
TOPIC: "Marking" and Inscribing in Early America
Images: PSP student Michael J. Emmons, Jr. documenting the historic C&D Canal lock at Delaware City, DE, with the Center for Historic Architecture and Design (left), taking field notes and creating a measured drawing of the David Compton House in Mauricetown, NJ (top right), and examining the timber framing of the 18th century Thomas Gandy House in Seaville, NJ (above).
project examines the markings left behind on buildings and artifacts as
powerful signifiers that are underutilized as historical evidence. As
material culture with embedded messages, markings offer us the ability
to “read” artifacts as historic texts—sometimes quite literally, as with
datestones on buildings or inscriptions on clocks—but also in the
archaeological sense, such as when historic graffiti can reveal
important information about social and cultural context. Markings and
inscriptions represent and communicate a broad range of personal and
cultural messages. Depending on the type, markings can demonstrate
temporal consciousness, signify rebellion and deviance, convey
instruction or direction, express an innate human need to leave a
permanent mark, indicate inclusion or belonging, express religious
belief or superstition, assert possession or ownership, commemorate or
honor, or display artistic expression. Michael’s work establishes a
typology of markings in early America, and promises to lend valuable
perspectives that inform historic preservation strategies and, more
broadly, the interpretation and conservation of objects and buildings in
museums and beyond.