The University of New Orleans will hold the first in a series of public history lectures in memory of historian Michael Mizell-Nelson, who died of cancer in December 2014 at the age of 49. Professor T. Mills Kelly of George Mason University will discuss “Community-Based Learning in the Humanities” at 5:30 p.m. on April 4 in the ballroom of the Homer L. Hitt Alumni and Visitors Center.
Kelly is a specialist in the scholarship of teaching and learning in history. His most recent book, “Teaching History in the Digital Age,” was published in 2013. He is the author of more than a dozen articles on the intersection of historical pedagogy and digital humanities.
The lecture series, which is free and open to the public, has been funded by Mizell-Nelson’s father, Merle Mizell.
Mizell-Nelson was a beloved faculty member in the UNO history department, where he served as an associate professor and public history coordinator. The lifelong New Orleanian was a well-known authority on two quintessential New Orleans topics, the poor boy and the streetcar.
“This event is important not only to honor Michael’s memory, but also to continue his work in public history,” said Robert Dupont, associate professor and chair of history. “The UNO Department of History thanks Dr. Merle Mizell for his generous gift which underwrites this lecture and those that will follow.”
Mizell-Nelson co-produced “Streetcar Stories,” a one-hour documentary that aired on PBS affiliates around the country and was screened at the American Film Institute Festival and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He also devoted years to researching the name and origin of poor boys. In collaboration with Tulane University, Mizell-Nelson helped create New Orleans Historical, a web and mobile platform that features stories and scholarship about New Orleans.
Mizell-Nelson was a driving force behind the creation of the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank. Launched in 2005, in partnership with George Mason University, the memory bank uses electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the stories and digital record of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The website includes first-hand accounts, on-scene images, blog postings and podcasts. It is the largest free public archive of Katrina and Rita material.
Mizell-Nelson also helped organize historical panel discussions at the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival and even his imprint on social media conveyed his devotion to his city and its cultural traditions; his Twitter handle was @poorboyologist.