Spears and Tate Local Histories


Mia Stratis Spears, in “Perseverance, Preservation, and Prosperity: The Greek Community of Williamsburg,” tells the story of the movement of Greek people to the Williamsburg area, and their overwhelming success. I had no idea that so many establishments were owned by Greek immigrants, dating so far back as the 1920s.        Spears remarks on the dynamic between the Greek population and William and Mary and the city of Williamsburg, and how all prospered from their relationship. The article seems to indicate more direct interaction between students at the College and Greek establishment owners and staff than what I have known. Lacking from my experience, I wonder whether the presence of the community is less overt now, or if I just have been sheltered in my connections. Spears also paints a very rosy picture the international relations and merging of communities—was it really so ideal? I find it hard to imagine that it was easy for Greeks to become a part of American culture, or for the residents of Williamsburg to readily accept a different nationality into their midst.

“Town and Gown Through Three Centuries: William & Mary in the Life of Williamsburg” was written by Thaddeus W. Tate Jr. and describes the history of the College in relation to its town, which was a close one from the origins of both. Tate focuses on the beginning and early years of the school, and (depending on the year of publication) very little attention is paid to any modern understanding of the relationship. I agree with Tate that William and Mary and Williamsburg share a very special bond, in that both feed off the other in many ways. Tourists come to the area for both the College and Colonial Williamsburg, while the students act as patrons to many of events and services offered in town. Each serves the other, though just as in the Spears piece, I would like the author to have presented less of a chronology, and more information that complicated this interaction. What about the late 1960s and early 1970s—did students protest? What are the tensions between the College and town communities? These two articles follow many of the standards (and limitations) that we discussed with local histories.

1 Response to “Spears and Tate Local Histories”

  1. 1 sgglos February 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Thoughtful and critical reflections. I like your healthy skepticism. I wonder if the SCRC Wiki on college history could tell you more about the 60s and 70s at W&M.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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