Season 3

Memorializing the West

Given the nation’s widespread and often heated reckoning with sites of memorialization and commemoration in recent years, the new season of Western Edition questions six such sites across the American West from Catalina Island to Daly City, California; Jackson, Wyoming to Los Angeles; Denver to San Antonio.

Who put that plaque there? Who decided that a statue needed to be fixed on a plinth in that space or on that street corner? And when? Why was it worth marking or remembering? Is it still important or significant, perhaps now maybe for different reasons? Do community members, people who walk by, or those who make an effort to visit, find these places and the words written about them meaningful?

Season 3 of Western Edition  is produced by Avishay Artsy, Katie Dunham, Jessica Kim, Elizabeth Logan, and Stephanie Yi.


Stories and questions of reckoning with sites of memorialization and commemoration in the American West are at the heart of Season 3. This Prologue introduces our six sites, Catalina Island; Daly City, California; Jackson, Wyoming to Los Angeles; Denver to San Antonio and some of the themes we will consider throughout the series.


Transcript available here.

Public space and history feel brought together, in both tension and promise, more than any other time in recent memory. This show is about that pairing, what it means, what it should mean, and what it could mean.

Quote: William Deverell. Image: Courtesy of Jason Hanson at History Colorado.
Photo of statue from above with staircase encircling.

Episode 1: Catalina Barracks

Starting on Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California, this episode zeroes in on a Civil War barracks that is now a private yacht club. The site played a curious role during the war and in the violent campaigns against Native peoples. Who is invested in the memories and histories of this site?


Transcript available here.

I think it’s probably sort of just forgotten…In that way, it sort of symbolizes the lost memory of the Civil War in California.

Quote: Kevin Waite. Image: USC Libraries
The two-story clapboard-sided barracks appears to be a regular craftsman-style house, its narrow side facing the camera and its porch visible to the right. At center, on the lawn, a group of seven people are gathered, some sitting, others standing, apparently having a picnic. Along with the Shattos Mr. Whitney, his brother, and his wife are also pictured. The bay is visible with two mountain ridges in the distance.

Selected images to accompany this episode:

Episode 2: Remembering a Northern California Duel

There are many places and sites in California that, if we listen closely, still echo with the angst of the Civil War past. Or if they don’t, they should. Take, for example, the Broderick-Terry monument in Daly City. This plaque and two obelisks mark the end of dueling in the state but omit the critical context of the battle over slavery in California.


Transcript available here.

This event, and the commemorative response to it, drives home the fact that the Civil War was everywhere – its causes and consequences – and that the history of California is very much part of all that the country wrestled with on the road to disunion and war.

Quote: William Deverell. Image: The Huntington Library
Woodcut showing a duel between U.S. Senator David C. Broderick and Chief Justice David S. Terry of the California Supreme Court.

Selected images to accompany this episode:

Episode 3: Settling Jackson Hole

Additional histories are hidden behind the laconic language etched into markers across the West. The Daughters of Utah Pioneers Marker 123 in the center of Jackson, Wyoming celebrates the arrival of Mormon families in 1889 while eliding important context, including deeper histories of settler colonialism and violence against Native peoples. Why did Anglo Americans in the mid-20th century produce particular narratives about pioneers and settlement in the West?


Transcript available here.

I think the truth is always more complicated than it’s first seen to be. I mean, we also have a small excerpt on the plaque, right? There’s not a ton of space to tell the whole story here.

Quote: Sarah Keyes. Image: Jessica Kim
A photo of a plaque attached to a rock on the intersection of a busy street in Jackson, Wyoming.

Selected images to accompany this episode:

Episode 4: ONE Archives as Memorial

Not far from the USC campus sits the home of the ONE Archives, one of the world’s greatest repositories of historical material pertaining to LGBTQ people and institutions. The mid-century building once housed a USC fraternity and is now part of the USC Libraries. Today, the ONE Archives stand as an evolving memorial itself, with a mission to promote public conversation and scholarship about queer histories and cultures.


Transcript available here.

It’s always amazing to me how it touches people when they see archival things… I had a man come in…and he found the obituary, which he hadn’t had the presence of mind to save, of one of his partners who had died of AIDS, and that deeply moved him.

Quote: Joseph Hawkins. Image: ONE Archives
A black and white photo of men in cowboy hats holding

Selected images to accompany this episode: