37. Interview With Dr. Alena Pirok

Matt interviews Dr. Alena Pirok, author of The Spirit of Colonial Williamsburg about the very special relationship Virginians have with their ghosts and how these stories and first-person interpretations serve to link modern Williamsburg to historic Williamsburg.

Dr. Alena Pirok is an assistant professor of US History at Georgia Southern University. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in history from the University of South Florida, and a BA from Southern Illinois University. Her research looks at interpretation, historical institutions, and lore. Her first book The Spirits of Colonial Williamsburg: Ghosts and Interpreting the Recreated Past will be available through the University of Massachusetts Press’s Public History in Historical Perspective series in September 2022.

Email: apirok@georgiasouthern.edu

This episode was written by Matthew Armstrong with music by Matthew Armstrong and production assistance from Kaylia Metcalfe.

There is no transcript for this episode.

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Sources and Show Notes

Colonial Williamsburg website

Dr. Pirok’s blog

Reverend Dr. W. A. R. Goodwin

Julia A. King

Plymouth Plantation (Plimoth Patuxet Museums)

Michelle Hanks

Irving Finkel – The First Ghosts

Jim Crow

Critical Race Theory

Sally Hemmings

Tiya Miles

WPA (Works Progress Administration)

Legend Tripping

La Llarona

Momento Mori

Pravina Shukla

John Sabol/C.A.S.P.E.R.

Cultural Resources Management

National Register of Historic Places

Folklore/Life Histories Project (WPA)


Fort Ross


Hanks, Michele. 2015. Haunted Heritage: The Cultural Politics of Ghost Tourism, Populism, and the Past. Routledge, London.

Hauk, Dennis William. 2002. Haunted Places: The National Directory: Ghostly Abodes, Sacred Sites, UFO Landings and Other Supernatural Locations. Penguin Books, NY.

King, Julia A. 2017. Archaeology, Narrative, and the Politics of the Past: The View from Southern Maryland. University of Tennessee Press. Knoxville, TN.

Miles, Tiya. 2015. Tales From the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill NC. 

Pirok, Alena. 2016. Spirit of the season. Post on the National Council on Public History blog, October 24, 2016. Accessed online on April 7, 2022 at https://ncph.org/history-at-work/spirit-of-the-season/

Pirok, Alena. 2017. Ghosts In The Archives: Communing With The Virginia Historical Inventory. Post on the Library of Virginia’s blog The Uncommonwealth, October 18, 2017. Accessed online on April 7, 2022 at https://uncommonwealth.virginiamemory.com/blog/2017/10/18/ghosts-in-the-archives/

Pirok, Alena. 2019. Goodwin’s Ghosts: Colonial Williamsburg’s Uncanny Legacy. The Public Historian, Vol. 41, No. 3 (August 2019), pp. 9–30.

Sabol, John G. 2014. Archaeology and Ghost Research, A Relational Entanglement. Ghost Excavator Books, Inc. Bedford, PA. 

Shukla, Pravina. 2015. Costume: Performing Identities through Dress. Indiana University Press, Bloomington IN.

If you have a story about a ghost, some bit of folklore, or anything else you want to share, please contact me.

Published by kayliametcalfe

Queer,loudmouth,skeptical-agnostic-pagan,book addict,coffee lover,wine drinker, SAHM,writer,editor,producer,podcaster. -She/her

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