Michael Jarvis has had a year of multitasking and starting new projects. He divided his time between the history department and directing U of R’s new Digital Media Studies major, where he oversaw 20 DMS seniors’ yearlong six capstone projects (a videogame, a museum augmented reality app, a national campus newspaper integrator website, a Rochester-area restaurant app, and two digital art installations). The twelve students participating in my summer 2015 Smiths Island Archaeology Field School worked on four sites and helped establish the dating of Oven Site to circa 1614 – the earliest site excavated in Bermuda. In the fall, he took my Maritime Atlantic History seminar students on an experiential road trip to Erie, Pennsylvania, and pressed them into a day’s service on the Brig Niagara, a War of 1812 warship, where they learned sail handling, naval discipline, and public history in practice. And throughout the year, he worked with independent study student researchers on my Virtual St. George’s project to create an interactive GIS layer of Bermuda’s first capital in 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution.
Through new grants and collaborations, he has grown enormously as a digital historian and archaeologist this past year. A U of R Pump Primer II grant enabled him to purchase a FARO laser scanner and build two cutting edge 3D graphics processing computers to advance his Virtual St. George’s project; this and a research trip to Bermuda in February (shooting 19,000 photos in six days) has enabled him to start digitally rebuilding the town, circa 1750. In January, he began a new digital history/archaeology research collaboration with UR’s ATHS program and the University of Ghana, focused on modeling Elmina (built 1482) and other Transatlantic Slave Trade castles and forts and training Ghanaian Ph.D. students in the use of scanning and photogrammetry reconstructions. Most recently, a UR Undergraduate Research Discover Grant enabled Nick Gresens (Religion and Classics) and him to take three UR students to Pompeii, Herculaneum and Oplontis to photograph, scan, and try infrared and UV spectrum recording of Roman graffiti and eroded frescoes dating to the first century AD. In addition, he presented papers on Bermudian, Atlantic, and Digital History at the Universities of Delaware and Alabama, Berkeley Institute (Bermuda), the University of Ghana, and the University of Southampton (UK), and had the unique experience of being the keynote speaker for the Colonial Wars Society floating conference, held aboard the cruise ship Breakaway in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Written by Kyle Robinson, PhD Candidate and Instructor at the University of Rochester
Many people know about the sumptuous world of Louis XIV’s Versailles, but few people probably know that the reach of the Sun King extended all the way to what is now Western New York. In 1678, the French explorer Robert, Sieur de La Salle stopped at the confluence of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario before beginning a long voyage of exploration that would take him through the Ohio River valley and down the Mississippi. Here, near modern day Youngstown, NY, an encampment was built that La Salle named Fort Conti, later known as Fort Niagara. The goal was trade, trade with the Native Peoples of the area and access to the lucrative beaver pelts the French provided to the European market. La Salle’s effort was part of Louis XIV’s wider mission, through the influence of his famous contrôleur général des finances Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to expand the wealth and power of the French state and its economy. Despite the lucrative trade in pelts and the importance of its strategic location, the French initially struggled to maintain a permanent presence at the mouth of the Niagara. The encampment was abandoned several times in the face of harsh winters, disease, and a tenuous supply chain that struggled to arrive from New France’s more permanent settlements along the St. Lawrence. It was not until 1726, eleven years after the death of Louis XIV, that a permanent stone structure was built, serving as a fortified trading post and France’s strategic claim to the Niagara region until the Fort was taken in 1759 by the British during the Seven Years War. After the American War of Independence, the Fort was used as an entry point for Loyalist immigration to Canada before being turned over to the United States, and was again a major arena of combat during the War of 1812.
On Saturday November 5, 2016, students from the University of Rochester’s course Rays of the Sun King: The Age of Louis XIV travelled to Fort Niagara to explore the history of the site and French activity in North America during the reign of the Roi-Soleil. After a tour of the Fort’s museum and its collection of French and British armaments, coins, and remnants of everyday life from the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, students were then led on a tour of the Fort by the course’s instructor Kyle Robinson. Robinson outlined for the students the role the Fort played in French New World expansion during the reign of Louis XIV, and how an early trading post grew into a major fortified position that utilized the mid-eighteenth century’s latest technologies in design and construction. Students were then able to watch the Fort’s staff conduct a demonstration of Early Modern French cannon and musketry, along with recreations of French drill and field hospital techniques before returning to Rochester.
To learn more about the History Department at the University of Rochester, its courses, programs, and faculty, visit https://www.rochester.edu/College/HIS
Morris A. Pierce (PhD 1993) is working on a comprehensive documentary history of American water works, which is on the web at http://www.waterworkshistory.us. This resource will be a valuable reference for local historians as well as those who do business, law, public health, and technology.
The University of Rochester’s History Department is proud to announce that our very own PhD candidate Camden Burd’s article Imagining a Pure Michigan Landscape: Advertisers, Tourists, and the Making of Michigan’s Northern Vacationlands has been published in The Michigan Historical Review (Fall 2016). The article in its entirety can be found here.