On Our Institutional History

Dear Scholars,

As you know, there is much research into the University’s history unfolding this year (of which this class is a part!). To stay on top of the latest work, I encourage you to attend at least one of the following sessions over the next several weeks:

  • March 3, 6–7:30 p.m., Brown-Alley Room, Weinstein Hall, when as part of History Week, the Westhampton and Richmond College student governments are hosting a moderated panel on the history of this land and institutional history. The evening will include a brief presentation of the burial ground research by Ms. Driskill and Dr. Lee, along with updates on ongoing institutional history work.
  • March 17, noon–1 p.m., Think Tank, Tyler Haynes Commons, the CCE is hosting a lunch and learn. Bring a lunch and hear a brief summary of the research and engage in a discussion with the researchers.
  • March 24, 5 p.m., Richmond Room, Heilman Dining Center, the School of Professional and Continuing Studies is hosting a full-length presentation of the research and Q and A session.

I will continue to update you as news of more events surface!


In recent years, college campuses across the United States have been compelled to confront the question, “What’s in a name?” As the Chronicle of Higher Education summarized, “And what is a university’s responsibility when the name on a statue, building, or program on campus is a painful reminder of hard to a specific racial group?” Joining a national conversation surrounding the meaning of the names of streets, spaces, and structures, the University of Richmond considers a response to calls to rename Ryland and Freeman Halls on campus.

Over the course of the semester, students will engage the debates surrounding building renamings by focusing on a particular case study on the University of Richmond campus: Freeman Hall. Named after Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Robert E. Lee, Douglas Southall Freeman was a journalist and editor of the Richmond News Leader. A man known to have saluted the Robert E. Lee statue on Monument Avenue each day as he passed en route to his office, Freeman is a mythical figure whose name not only commemorates a dorm on UR’s campus but local schools across the region.

Engaging with a range of primary source documents and contributing to the growing inquiry into Freeman’s life, students will analyze Freeman’s editorials as well as writings about Freeman to better understand and contextualize a man who was both actively constructing his own myth as well as being defined by popular media. In this way, the course aims to explore the many Douglas Southall Freemans in public circulation, reading them within the context of the Lost Cause in popular and public culture.

Welcome to “Streets, Spaces, & Structures”! Check back for course updates.