PHI Intern Charlotte Watters Works With Tuscaloosa’s First United Methodist Church’s Bicentennial Committee

By Charlotte Watters

This image is of the front entrance to Tuscaloosa's First United Methodist ChurchI chose to take this internship because I wanted a chance to explore the history that exists in the community all around me. I hope that this project will bring me closer to the community in which I live, and give me a chance to utilize my studies for a (slightly more practical) goal. While I initially became involved with this project because of a professor’s recommendation, the Department’s class on Public History definitely inspired me to become more involved in the preservation of our community’s past. I have already made a lot of close connections with fellow researchers, University faculty, and the greater Tuscaloosa community. Seeing how excited the Tuscaloosa community members were when they saw our team come in was incredibly rewarding.

I am working with a team on the bicentennial for the First United Methodist Church of Tuscaloosa. Our project is particularly exciting because the bicentennial falls on the same year as Tuscaloosa’s bicentennial. We found that breaking the project into fifty-year chunks is incredibly evocative; 1818-2018 spans the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement, and modern day. The Church members seem eager to take on even the difficult aspects of their history, and are looking at partnering with other churches in town. Our team as a whole is planning on creating a series of short video clips documenting different aspects of the history, centered on the fifty-year time breaks. Personally, I will be curating a small exhibit of the Church’s artifacts for the FUMC’s history month, which will be in November of 2018. So far, I have found some pretty incredible things, including a registry that dates back to the 1820s. We are still in the very early stages of planning, as we meet with the bicentennial committee once a month. At our next meeting, we will be proposing our plan for the history month, and once we have the go-ahead, we will be able to make much more progress. Also, hopefully as the project picks up speed, we will have a lot of great photos to share, since the Church is a beautiful space full of great pieces of Tuscaloosa history.