Emily Lapisardi – 5/13/2011 Message

Hello Mr. Edgerton,

I am encountering what I believe may be a heritage violation at a museum where I have worked for many years– I know you have been active in these types of issues, so hope you can advise me about what to do. The situation is somewhat complex, but I will explain it as clearly as I can.

Since 2002, I have volunteered at Old Economy Village, a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (state-run) site. I was named volunteer of the year in 2006, am entering my second term as a board member for the site’s non-profit support group, the Friends of Old Economy Village, and am currently the board secretary.

In the fall of 2009, the museum commission planned to close the site to the public because of funding issues. The Friends, spearheaded by the officers (including myself), took over the public functions at the museum to ensure it would remain open. As part of our efforts, we have added a variety of fundraising events to the calendar.

My friend BJ Pino, the conductor of the Wildcat Regimental Band (whom I have known professionally for about ten years), offered to do a fundraiser concert at cost for the Village. The offer was made to me personally– I presented it to the FOEV board, and we decided to go forward with the event, building a Civil War Remembrance Day around the concert.

The Acting Site Administrator, a Museum Commission (state) employee, is a Union reenactor and is violently opposed to having Confederates at the Village. The rest of theevent committee feels that both sides of the story need to be told. To that end, I had invited many of my contacts to the event and had some excellent first-person Confederate portrayals lined up, as well as a couple of units.

Yesterday, I was told by this Adminstrator to “uninvite” the Confederates because their presence would “confuse the public.” Obviously, uninviting the Confederates would also, by extension, require univiting myself!

Understandably, I am very angry and feel that a grave injustice is being committed. I know she has contacted her superiors in the Museum Commission to force the rest of the committee to make this a Union-only event. As you know, I have presented my first-person Confederate portrayals throughout the country for groups including the National Park Service, the International Spy Museum, the Surratt Society, the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, the Manassas Museum System, and many more. My presentations are historically factual and thoroughly researched.

What can I (and the other Confederate reenactors) do regarding this situation? I would greatly appreciate any guidance you could offer. In my 13 years of presenting first-person presentations, I have never encountered anything like this.
Thank you for your help!