Boise Mexican Consulate Wiki Article—Reflection

On a personal stance, I find Boise lacking in culture and diversity. As a Latin minority (Guatemalan to be exact), I don’t really see my ethnicity represented aside from the Hispanic markets or restaurants, and yet these restaurants come from a very specific country. I wanted to research something that was genuinely racial, in the sense that the organization represented a single demographic even if it wasn’t mine, and thus I came upon the Mexican Consulate. I had very little knowledge of the Mexican Consulate, aside from seeing the consul and his assistant at various events such as the Civil Liberties Symposium and the Casasola Photography Archives of the Mexican Revolution.

My technological frustrations were quite minimal. Thankfully, all the sources I used for the wiki article were already digitized, which made the production of the article quite efficient. I actually began my article on a word processor, to check for any typos or major grammatical issues, and then copy-pasted the text into the page I created for the article on the wiki site. It was difficult to organize the text and make it look ordered without being too overcrowded, so it took several times of copying, deleting, and pasting before everything was in place. Uploading a photo was probably the most difficult, because the wiki site was not recognizing the picture I was uploading. I actually gave up loading the picture for a while before I tried once again, and miraculously the photos were ready. I don’t know how I overcame that hurdle, but I’m taking it as a gift.

While I was originally hesitant of writing an article for a wiki site, I found the experience fun and enjoyable. Everyone has unique interests and wiki sites provide an outlet to vent those interests to everyone and anyone who may also be potentially interested. In regards to the Mexican Consulate, I had no prior knowledge of its conception and influence and found the information garnered rather interesting. The fact that the article is written to the general public made the assignment less stressful while still maintain an aura of historical credibility. With that being said, it was difficult to change my voice as I was writing for a public instead of scholars. It would be interesting to see what changes occur with the article I presented and hope to see alterations whether they be small or grandiose. I hope that other Latinos feel that there is a section, albeit small, about them as well, as they see the article and are able to contribute to it.

The liabilities of writing local history on a wiki are that people may find offense to the article I particularly wrote about. While I attempted to maintain an unbiased voice, I’m sure there are users who will change the article greatly to ensure Idaho does not sound as racist as some of the primary sources implicitly and explicitly reveal. Other editors may alter information without looking up sources or attaching references, which hurts the credibility of the article. While I definitely do not believe I am now an expert on the Mexican Consulate, I did try to base my information on historical sources. My concern is that contributors will attack the writer as opposed to finding other sources that can counteract the information presented.

To other wiki contributors of local history, I urge them to be as honest and thorough as possible. While wiki sites are not scholarly sources and should not be used as references for historical papers, people trust wiki sites and articles. As a future historian, I hope that what I read on Wikipedia, even if I never source the information, holds some relative truth. People read wiki articles all the time to gather quick information and if we are not providing accurate history, we are aiding societal ignorance. I think it is a great responsibility to write a wiki article, and as a responsibility it should not be taken lightly. But it can still be fun!


VW photo by sicoactiva, copyrighted through Flickr Creative Commons

posted by Anna, April, Kyle

Woolwich Dock, Sydney – April, Kyle, Anna

Woolwich Dock, Sydney photo by Australian National Maritime Museum on The Commons, No known copyright restrictions.

Humanity and Science: The Paradox of Progress

I.         Title: Humanity and Science: The Paradox of Progress

II.         Introduction: Progress is often construed as an ambiguous concept that beckons a movement for the greater good. People seek progress in personal lives, in communities, in nations, but few can fully describe or define the parameters of this concept. Who decides then? Who determines the claims and arguments of progress? And upon discovering the intentions, who polices the boundaries between what can be accomplished in the name of this belief and what should not be done? It is within these uncertainties that the worst travesties in the world have occurred. Such was the case in Macon County, Alabama, where 600 African American men were selected to undergo an experimental study where the United States Public Health Service monitored the spread and effects of latent syphilis in medicine deprived men. These individuals endured forty years of placebos, metal and arsenic injections, and spinal taps with the understanding that they were receiving treatment for their “bad blood.” Instead, medical professionals manipulated the men of Tuskegee, withheld treatment, and misinformed their condition, with the hopes of unraveling the mystery of syphilis in the African American man, all in the name of scientific progress.

III.         Macon County, Alabama was the perfect setting for the study to take place.

a.    Individuals who lived in Tuskegee were poor, illiterate, and believed they were being offered treatment for their ailments. They had no reason not to believe the doctors and nurses who were overseeing their care. Eunice Rivers, the nurse who befriended the men, convinced the men to stay within the program if they ever chose to leave. Some men thought they were even a part of a social club by participating in the treatments.

a.i.     “Syphilis Study Went on After its Apparent Success.” New York Times, September 13, 1972, p. 30.

b.     The Tuskegee men were told they had “bad blood,” and not knowing what that meant, allowed themselves to be treated as the doctors and nurses saw fit. Charles Pollard, a victim of the study, claimed he was never told he had a STD and did not know that “bad blood” was synonymous with syphilis.

b.i.     Wooten, James T. “Survivor of ’32 Syphilis Study Recalls a Diagnosis.” New York Times, July 27, 1972, p. 18.

IV.         Public Health Services, Centers for Disease Control, as well as other medical professionals treated the men of Tuskegee as little more than test subjects. They knew these men were not receiving treatment. As the years progressed and penicillin became available, they still did not treat the infected individuals.

a.     While the PHS claims the life of the individual is more important than the study of a disease, they continue to discuss the rate of morbidity with men infected with latent syphilis. The report attempts to create justification of the “necessary” study.

a.i.     Shafer, J.K., Lida J. Usilton, and Geraldine A. Gleeson. “Untreated Syphilis in the Male Negro: A Prospective Study of the Effect on Life Expectancy.” Public Health Reports 69, no. 7 (1954): 684-690.

b.     Selection of the individuals was dependent on one factor, whether the men involved had syphilis or not. This created a study group of 399 infected men and 201 uninfected men. This report discusses the socioeconomic class of the men as “poor” and they were chosen for their low-economic standing. Perhaps chosen because they could not afford education and were thus illiterate.

b.i.     Olansky, Sidney, Lloyd Simpson, and Stanley H. Schuman. “Environmental Factors in the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis.” Public Health Reports 69, no. 7 (1954): 691-698.

c.     This report discussed the variety of tests used to determine the effects of syphilis in its various stages. It is more statistically written, but discussed the Tuskegee Study subjects after 30 years of infection. Although the earlier reports introduced the idea of treatment, it is evident that these men are still being subjugated.

c.i.     Moore, M. Brittain Jr., and John M. Knox. “Sensitivity and Specificity in Syphilis Serology: Clinical Implications.” Southern Medical Journal 58, no. 8 (1965): 963-968.

d.     Even though the 399 men were never treated for the syphilis, Dr. John R. Heller claimed the entire study was never unethical or unscientific, even though all the subjects were African American. He believed that the men were receiving treatment from their local doctors, even though he had no confirmation. In contrast to what Dr. Heller claims, a local doctor interviewed by the New York Times claimed that he was told not to treat the men who were specifically involved with the Tuskegee Study. Coercion or persuasion was influential in keeping the men in the study and from receiving the medical attention they desperately needed.

d.i.     “Ex-Chief Defends Syphilis Project.” New York Times, July 28, 1972, p. 29.

d.ii.     Doctor Says He was Told Not to Treat Men in V.D. Experiment.” New York Times, August 8, 1972, p. 16.

V.     The Tuskegee Syphilis Study has left a horrible taint in the minds of the public, medical practitioners, and the African American community. Although the study was being documented through Public Health Reports, it was not until the media became aware of the situation that ethical questions and concerns became evident.

a.     Jean Heller, a member of the Associated Press, received information regarding the study. Her research and initial report opened the doors for media criticism and public awareness. It also explained the study to many of the victims who did not know they were involved in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study.

a.i.     Heller, Jean. “Syphilis Victims in U.S. Study Went Untreated for 40 Years.” New York Times, July 26, 1972, p. 1.

b.     Jane Brody wrote an article discussing the lack of medical and humanistic ethics within the study.  She emphasizes how the study is morally wrong, but even more so because the victims were of one race. This evolved from one horrible tragedy to involving race issues after the Civil Rights movement.

b.i.     Brody, Jane E. “All in the Name of Science.” New York Times, July 30, 1972, sec. E2, p. 1.

c.     Reaction from the public, spurred by the media, halted the Tuskegee Study and brought medical attention to the men who survived the 40 years of malpractice. In Pollard vs. United States, monetary compensation was given to the survivors and the families of the victims. Medical ethics became scrutinized and clinical research trials were revolutionized to avoid the stigma that was associated with the Tuskegee Study.

c.i.     Kampmeier, R.H. “Final Report on the “Tuskegee Syphilis Study”.” Southern Medical Journal 67, no. 11 (1974): 1349-1353.

c.ii.     Dawson, George. “Last Survivor of Infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Dies.” Journal of the National Medical Association 96, no. 3 (2004)

VI.        Conclusion: The pursuit of scientific progress can lead to ethical dilemmas if humanistic perspective is not taken into account. In the case of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, racial prejudices were evident. Lack of medical treatment for the victims during the forty years of study only worsened the stigma that would be associated with the PHS and government aid after its exposure. While the intent of the study was aimed at the progression of syphilis, the objectification of the victims has left a taint within the minds of the African American community and the general public. The pursuit of scientific progress that started the study became a racial and ethical battleground.

VII.         Secondary Sources

a.     Curing Cancer: Clinical Research Trials. Films Media Group, 2003. Films On Demand. H.264,

a.i.     This small segment discusses clinical research trials in the 21st century. Although these studies have become more ethically aware and are patient oriented, the fear among African Americans is evident. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is embedded in their fear, which is as pervasive now as it was in the 1970s. This source would be useful in looking at the long-term societal effects resulting from the study as well as noting that the intended scientific progress did much more harm.

b.     Diianni, Denisce, and George Strait. The Deadly Deception. DVD. Boston: WGBH Boston Video, 1993.

b.i.     The documentary interviews survivors and families of survivors after the exposure of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. It would make for a great source in understanding what the victims understood of the study and their reactions upon discovering the true intentions.

c.     Jones, James H. 1981. Bad blood: the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. New York: Free Press.

c.i.     Jones explains the severity of syphilis, as well as terms and brands associated with the STD in conjunction with the study. It would be useful to use this material in regards to fully understanding the disease and cultural implications.

d.     Reverby, Susan. 2009. Examining Tuskegee the infamous syphilis study and its legacy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

d.i.     Reverby uses interviews with the survivors as well as discussions with journalists in writing this book. She approaches the interpretation with multiple perspectives, which is useful in understanding why the debacle is still prominent in the minds of physicians and the study-aware public.

e.     Lambardo, Paul A., and Gregory M. Dorr. “Eugenics, Medical Education, and the Public Health Service: Another Perspective on the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 80, no. 2 (2006): 291-316.

e.i.     This perspective is unique in that is discusses the intentions of the Tuskegee Study in relation to eugenics in medicine. The authors claim that the original instigators of the study were eugenics students and used this background in forming the foundation of the study. It portrays the Tuskegee Syphilis Study on the same horrific grounds as the Nuremberg Trials.

f.      White, Robert M. “Challenges in a Narrative About the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis.” Journal of Transcultural Nursing 19, no. 2 (2008): 105-106.

f.i.     This perspective attacks the sensationalism news reports and claims thirty years after the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. This article is important because it ensures that as time occurs, dramatizations should not distort the truth of the events. While it is important that everyone should know and remember the horrors of this study, exaggerations and fallacies will not help the push for ethical concerns in research and trials.



            There are many good reasons why primary sources should be digitized and available for the general public. Readily accessible information brings knowledge and awareness to certain topics. In this case, I was able to garner information directly from the Public Health Reports in regards to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. While the majority of digitized sources were unavailable through online portals, the few I found were able to provide insight from very unique perspectives, even if I did not agree with them. I was able to find articles from digitized versions of the New York Times, which provided the foundation for this paper.

Majority of my challenges occurred early on, as I attempted to use online databases. Many of the databases provided articles, books, and film, but unfortunately they were all secondary sources. As I delved further into my research, I attempted to use big data sites, hoping an aggregation of sources would award me with a plethora of information. Unfortunately, every database I used was unable to provide me with information concerning this specific study, instead providing information about the Tuskegee Airmen. Oddly enough, it was the Boise State Library database that awarded me the most as I found journal subscriptions with the Southern Medical Journal, Public Health Reports, and historic newspapers.

I picked a topic from the 20th century, which greatly helped in the acquisition of digitized primary sources. And while I did find sources that were beneficial to my paper, more than I thought I would find, the majority of the sources came from the 1970s newspaper articles. Having the restriction of only using digitized primary sources limited my abilities in gaining insight into the origins of the Tuskegee Study. The study began in 1932, but the earliest primary source came from the 1950s, that is twenty years of primary sources I am unable to interpret. I would have to rely on physical primary sources (i.e. health reports, coronary reports, oral histories) or secondary sources if I wanted to truly stabilize my arguments and claims.

I truly believe that digitizing sources is beneficial for researchers, regardless of education experience. It was easier to find information, analyze findings, and interpret the story without having to do the legwork of finding each individual source through books, archives, or oral histories. However, researchers should also be aware that relying solely on digitized primary sources could be very dangerous. Limitations on sources can create misinterpretations, and it is important that all aspects of a history be told as accurate as possible. Writing historical research papers is difficult, and until all sources (both primary and secondary) are digitized and available through online sites or databases, physical legwork will always be required.

Army of One and the NW Apocalypse

Five Card Story: Professor takes on the US Guard as an Army of One!

a Five Card Flickr story created by Anna and Stephen

flickr photo by Serenae

flickr photo by jentropy

flickr photo by bionicteaching

flickr photo by bionicteaching

flickr photo by bionicteaching

HEADLINE: Professor takes on the US Guard as an Army of One!

June 22, 2050 the world was decimated by the nuclear implosion of the Idaho Nuclear Waste site. Society believed the nuclear waste was no longer reactive, they were wrong. As the implosion occurred, Mountain Home, Glenns Ferry, and even the capital of Idaho, Boise, were demolished. The entire Northwest was gone in a matter of seconds, and the lone survivor was a woman with little knowledge of survival, but she would become the army of one!

As the United States Guard traveled into the Northwest to attempt restoration, they did not know that the site was still radioactive. Leslie knew. She was infected and she was on a mission to ensure no one else endured the horrible pain and symptoms. Her mission was to stop the US Guard from entering into the Northwest. She was going to stop the spread of what is now known as the Madsen-Brooks Virus. Fighting for survival in the extremist of conditions, Leslie made her way to the Montana-Wyoming border. There were mobile tanks full of soldiers, blockading all those from entering, but she knew they were entering the wrong area. Here were all the trees faded into nothing she put up a last stand.

Pulling a mini-gun from her shoulder bag, she stayed her ground, proclaiming the areas infection and impending doom. The US Guard did not listen. She began to fire upon the soldiers, but there were too many and over powered her easily. As she lay on the ground, bleeding, she once again screamed the conditions of land, screamed for their safety, knowing the entire time she was about to die….

Error….Error….this is the last transcription known to exist for the survivor of the NW region Leslie Madsen-Brooks. Any relevant information pertaining to this incident would greatly enhance the historical significance of this world wide outbreak…Error….Error

“Do the Right Thing and Digitize”: Troy Reeves’ Interview

Many history students often wonder about the careers they will one day pursue. Admittedly, teaching is the most common answer or option that is often presented to recent graduates by the general public. But for many students, there are different avenues present. Recent graduates have the opportunity to seek a public history career, either in museum studies, archives, historic preservation, etc. Some individuals receive the privilege of finding their niches in history careers and become fortunate enough to pursue lines of work that fit their interests. Such is the case of Troy Reeves, a student of Idaho State University and Utah State University and now head oral archivist of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Oral History Program.

Troy’s was born and raised in Idaho and attended Idaho State University as an undergraduate. He first became interested in oral histories when enrolled in the second half of a United States History course. His professor at the time, handed a piece of paper to the students, exclaiming congratulations, they did not have to complete the course final (a concept all undergraduates wish their professors would consider), if they could find someone to interview who lived during the Depression. Troy had the privilege of interviewing both his maternal and paternal grandmothers, who endured during this era in history. Troy realized during his interviews that his grandmothers became more than just his family, more than just cookie-givers, they became real people with real histories. He discoverd through oral histories, one could capture a little bit of history from primary sources who were present throughout various events.

He was able to garner more information concerning interviewing and oral history documentation from folklorist at Utah State University, where he sought his MA in History. At the time they used analog transcripts. After his time at Utah State, Troy became involved in a project for the state of Idaho, conducting interviews about the Boise Green Belt. He recalls completing some three dozen interviews, but unfortunately these interviews have since been lost. In 1999, he became the Oral Historian at the Library & Archives at the Idaho State Historical Society. It was there that he met his mentor, Doug Boyd, who would share the importance of digitizing oral histories. For Troy, digitizing histories “is the right thing to do.” Early on, they would record oral interviews on mini discs (I had to Google images to see what they looked like). He explains that there is good content on the internet, but with technology moving fast he often purchased technologies that had shelf life-spans of fifteen seconds. Regardless of the technology, Troy continued digitizing oral histories for preservation purposes and public access. He provided audio clips of the Boise fire jumpers on the Idaho Archives website to further interest people in oral histories and to persuade archive visitations

In 2006, Troy applied for the University of Wisconsin-Madison oral historian position and became head oral archivist in June of 2007. He explains that while he was able to emphasize in oral histories once again, the various interviews were all on analog cassettes. He was frustrated, but knew the only way to go was up and began working on digitizing the 2,500 hours of cassette recordings. The project took three years. A project Troy became involved with at UW-Madison was that of Campus Voices. Campus Voices is actually an aggregation of 5 oral collections and attempts to interpret campus history to the community. Troy’s proudest project is that of the Sterling Hall Bombing of 1970, which was the biggest act of terrorism in the United States until the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. These projects have repackaged analog material and converted the oral histories into iTunes albums, 20 minute podcasts, a thirteen minute movie, and also created a web presence for the Madison community and digital world.

Troy Reeve’s passion for oral histories are evident in his work and in this informational interview. He has a yearning to not only conduct interviews—he only does about ten to fifteen a year now that he runs the Oral History Program and is managing editor of the Oral History Review—but also provide oral histories for the students of UW-Madison and the public. He does not consider himself a digital humanist, but rather a person who understands the need of preserving oral histories through the utilization of digital tools. He recommends to all students who are interested in archives or library science to understand the necessity of providing and preserving primary sources and to “learn the entire process,” whether that be creating metadata, research summaries, or pushing interviews. An advanced degree doesn’t hurt a cause and he recommends students be willing to volunteer, even if the work doesn’t sound appealing. People will recognize commitment and work ethics, even if the jobs are “crappy.” It all benefits as a rich experience. His enthusiasm and obvious devotion to oral histories is inspiring and encourages one to pursue a history career that is both a challenge and a reward.

Campus Voices: