NASA in the South Symposium

Thursday, March 28, 2019- March 29, 2019 Multiday event - 1 days

8:30 AM12:00 PM

Student Services Building

ROom 112

The purpose of this symposium is to examine the economic, social, and political impact NASA has had on the South over the past 60 years and to explore how that southern ‘accent’ has affected the development of NASA’s organizational culture, technology development, and programmatic goals.  It is jointly sponsored by the NASA Marshall History Office and the UAH History Department with generous funding from the UAH Humanities Center.  Events are free and open to the public.  See

NASA in the South Symposium

March 28-29, 2019

The University of Alabama in Huntsville
301 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35899
Student Services Building (SSB)

Campus Map:

On March 28-29, 2019, the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center History Office and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) History Department will host a symposium at UAH addressing the impact of NASA on the southern United States. All sessions are free and open to the public. No separate registration is required.


Brian C. Odom, Historian at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Stephen P. Waring, University of Alabama Huntsville History Department Chair

Symposium Program
First Day – Thursday, March 28, 2019

8:00 – 8:30am – Registration/Check-In

8:30am – 9:00am Welcome Addresses

Dr. Robert A. Altenkirch, President of The University of Alabama in Huntsville

Jody Singer, Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

9:00am – 9:45am - Opening Keynote

Douglas Brinkley

John F. Kennedy and NASA's Southern Strategy

Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.  He works in many capacities in the world of public history, including on boards, museums, colleges and historical societies. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him “America’s New Past Master”.  The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley their official U.S. Presidential Historian.  His recent book Cronkite won the Sperber Prize while The Great Deluge:  Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.   He has received a Grammy Award for Presidential Suite and seven honorary doctorates in American Studies.  His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes recently won the Arthur S. Link – Warren F. Kuehl Prize.  He is a member of the Century Association, Council of Foreign Relations and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.  He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and three children. 

9:45 – 10:00am – Break

10:00am – 11:30am – Panel Discussion

Moderator: Bill Barry, NASA Chief Historian

Kari Edwards, University of Mississippi
Gateway to the Stars: Fundamentalism, Space Tourism, and the Cape Canaveral Bible Conference

Roland Miller, Independent Scholar
Abandoned in Place: Preserving America’s Space History

Arslan Jumaniyazov, Purdue University
Local Aero-spaces: Between Cape Canaveral and Baikonur

11:30am – 1:00pm – Lunch Break –

Lunch Talk – James R. Hansen

James R. Hansen is a professor emeritus of history at Auburn University. A former historian for NASA, Hansen is the author of twelve books on the history of aerospace and a two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize in History. His 1995 book Spaceflight Revolution was nominated for the Pulitzer by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the only time NASA ever nominated a book for the prize. He serves as co-producer for the upcoming major motion picture First Man, which is based on his New York Times bestselling biography of Neil Armstrong. Hansen lives in Auburn, Alabama.

1:00pm – 2:30pm – Panel Discussion

Moderator: Monique Laney, Auburn University

Drew Adan, University of Alabama Huntsville
Space City USA: Theme Park of the South That Failed to Launch

John McKerley, University of Iowa Labor Center and Jane DeNeefe, Independent Scholar
Resegregating the Rocket City: Race, Class, and Inequality in Huntsville, Alabama since World War II

Raja Roy, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Co-evolution of Socio-economic and Technological Bottlenecks in the Genesis of the Space Shuttle

2:30 – 2:45pm – Break

2:45 – 4:30pm – New Directions and Methods in Space Archives

Moderator: Reagan Grimsley, University of Alabama Huntsville

Robyn Rodgers (NASA HQ Chief Archivist)
Navigating NASA HQ Archives and Federal Records

Shane Bell, National Archives and Records Administration (Atlanta, Georgia)
Overview of those collections and Federal Record Center discussion

Erin Ryan, University of Alabama, University Libraries Special Collections
NASA-Related Material in the John J. Sparkman Papers

Michael Manasco, University of Alabama Huntsville 
"It's (not) all online”: Salmon Library's critical role as NASA SP Preservation Stewards for the GPO

4:30pm - Closing Remarks and Wrap-up of First Day

Evening Keynote Address
Thursday, March 28, 2019, 7:30pm
University of Alabama Huntsville – Roberts Recital Hall

Diane McWhorter
Moon of Alabama: From the Third Reich to Tranquility Base, via the Segregated American South

Diane McWhorter is the author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama—The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, which was published by Simon & Schuster in March 2001 and reissued with a new Afterword in 2013. It won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize, the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction, the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award, the Clarence Cason Award, the Horace Mann Bond Book Award from Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, and the English-Speaking Union Ambassador Award. In addition to being a New York Times Notable Book for 2001 and a Washington Monthly Political Book of the Year, Carry Me Home was on the “best books of the year” lists of The Los Angeles TimesThe Chicago TribuneNewsdayPublishers’ WeeklyLibrary Journal, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and others. In 2011, Time named Carry Me Home, which had been one of its 10 Best Books of 2001, to its list of the 100 best nonfiction books published since the magazine’s founding, in 1923.

Second Day – Friday, March 29, 2019
University of Alabama Huntsville - Student Services Building

8:30 – 9:00am – Reception

9:00 – 9:10am – Opening Remarks

9:10am - Opening Keynote

Roger Launius
Remembering Apollo: The American South and the Moon Landings

Roger D. Launius is Principal of Launius Historical Services. Between 2002 and 2017 he worked in several positions at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., most recently as Associate Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs. Between 1990 and 2002 he served as chief historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. During at 35-year career as a U.S. government historian, he has been involved in many issues relating to public history and the history of aerospace technology. He has written or edited more than thirty books on aerospace history, most recently The Smithsonian History of Space Exploration: Discoveries from the Ancient World to the Extraterrestrial Future (Smithsonian Books, 2018), NASA Spaceflight: A History of Innovation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), and Historical Analogs for the Stimulation of Space Commerce (NASA, 2014). His forthcoming book, Apollo’s Legacy: The Moon Landings in Perspective (Smithsonian Books, 2019), focusing on the meaning of Apollo after fifty years.

9:45am – 10:00am – Break

10:00 – 12:00pm – Panel Discussion

Moderator: Pamela E. Mack, Clemson University

Ruthie Calvino, Clemson University
Carolina Astronauts: Using Digital History Project to connect NASA history to Students in the South

Jeffrey S. Nesbit, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
KSC Headquarters: Architectural Modernity and Infrastructure in NASA’s Remote South

Wendy Whitman-Cobb, Cameron University
The South and NASA: Public Opinion Differences and Political Consequences

Stuart Simms, University of Kentucky
“Fire in the Bucket”: Mississippi Test Facility, Its Post-Apollo Transformation, and Its Impact on Local Residents

12:00pm – Final discussion/closing remarks

For more information contact Brian Odom at

Brian C. Odom
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama



College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, History
Public, Students, Faculty and Staff, Alumni


Stephen Waring 256-824-6310 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Student Services Building

301 Sparkman DriveHuntsville, AL 35899

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