Theses Master's

The Draft Riots Reconsidered: Interpreting New York’s Sites of Racial Conflict

Kazmierski, Nicholas A.

The 1863 New York Draft Riots were the largest civil insurrection in American history— it is estimated that hundreds perished in the violence of the week of July 13-18, 1863, triggered principally by the imposition of the Union Army’s Federal Conscription Act. Motivated additionally by the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation earlier that year, mobs viciously targeted the City’s African American population, brutally beating and lynching black New Yorkers in the streets. While New York’s identity has traditionally been understood as that of a great melting pot, a haven for diversity, the violence of the Draft Riots perhaps serves as the singular, representative event in the City’s history to counter such a notion. This thesis involves a proposal for the design and implementation of a series of experimental, site-based, public history interpretation efforts related to the racial and social implications of the 1863 New York Draft Riots. The initiatives formulated throughout seek to interpret the contemporary social significance and relevance of the Draft Riots, and the most effective means of place-based education of the events, which thus far have remained largely obscured in the public conscience.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Williams, Jessica Lee
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 5, 2017