Reconstruction 360 is SCETV’s new web and mobile application that brings contemporary scholarship about Reconstruction to a project designed for mobile devices.
Intended for the general public, students and educators,Reconstruction 360 uses 360° videos and short documentary films to shed light on the Reconstruction era. The project focuses on the theme of land and labor, specifically unpacking the history of “40 Acres and a Mule,” the short-lived promise of land that was made to freedmen along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia.
Columbia Reconstruction Walking Tour
At this writing, elements of Reconstruction 360 are still under construction, but one feature is published and ready to use – a geolocative walking tour of Reconstruction sites in downtown Columbia.
The Columbia Reconstruction Tour tells the history of Columbia during Reconstruction through the buildings – both those that remain and those that have been replaced – that line Main Street from the State House to Blanding Street and up Sumter Street, back to the State House. The tour covers the dramatic story of the period, from the Secession Convention of 1860, through the rise of African-American legislators, to the election of Wade Hampton and the fall of Republicanism in 1877, a date considered by some to be the end of Reconstruction. As a user of the app visits banks, churches, courthouses and other locations in the heart of the capital city, a picture emerges of the efforts to reconcile white and black communities during what was arguably South Carolina’s most tumultuous and progressive era.
Each of the thirty stops on the Columbia Reconstruction Tour contains images and written and audible text. When using the app in downtown Columbia, locations pop up when the user is within 30 feet of a site. The tour is self-guided and can be used off-site as well, on tablets and phones anywhere. Its place-based approach anchors the history of the city and state in the material culture of the period. The app can be downloaded for free from Tour Buddy Historic Apps in the App Store for both Apple and Android devices. The Columbia Reconstruction Tour was produced in collaboration with Historic Columbia and written by Thomas Brown, Professor of History at the University of South Carolina.
Reconstruction 360 takes a close look at the impact on freedpeople of land policies during the early years of Reconstruction.
The platform for the app is a 360° reenactment of the moment in 1865 when a freedman and his family are informed by a member of the Freedmen’s Bureau that they do not own the farm they had acquired through General Sherman’s Field Order 15. As the scene plays out, hotspots leading to short videos appear next to the characters. In these videos, on-camera narrators chart the complex history of the promise and heartbreak of “40 Acres and a Mule,” including the role of the Freedmen’s Bureau, President Johnson’s pardons of Confederates, and the agency of freedpeople in shaping their own destiny after the Civil War. Other topics covered include the Black Codes, the role of women and children, the development of public education, and the evolution of sharecropping.
In other videos on the site, historians help to place the stories in the historical, social and geographic context, while interviews with descendants document personal connections to the past. Geolocative maps guide users on a tour through Reconstruction landmarks in Columbia, South Carolina. Taken together, these elements create a history resource that is accessible, portable and appealing, making immersive mobile-first experiences widely available to a global audience on tablets and smartphones.
Reconstruction 360 is a project of South Carolina ETV, and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.