A few weeks back I shared a few pictures of my classroom and office. This week I want to share a few pictures of my home office. My wife bought me a digital camera last spring and I’ve been using it quite a bit — can’t wait to use it for research purposes. Anyway, here are a few pics of my own workspace at home. My wife and I moved into our first home back in December 2002. My office is roughly 13 x 13 and includes just enough room for a good-sized desk and plenty of shelf space. This is the first time that I’ve had my own space and enough room for all my Civil War books, journals, and Troiani prints. Yes, I have a number of Troiani prints which will eventually be sold given their increase in value over the past few years. In the pic to the right you can see Troiani’s depiction of the 6th Virginia at the Crater as well as U.S.C.T.’s If I have any say surrounding the cover for my Crater study it will be some kind of contrast between this print and John Elder’s painting of the same scene done in 1869. The contrast between how black soldiers are depicted is quite telling. I would say that I have a fairly extensive library. Most of my books are recent studies. I do not accumulate books simply for the sake of owning them; they have to be of some use to my teaching or research projects. Those of you who have had to deal with moving an entire library can appreciate the hassle of having to pack box after box. There are a few classics in my collection. You should be able to make out a Pulitzer-Prize edition of D. S. Freeman’s Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Veteran volumes at the top which I use on a regular basis given that my interests center on memory. I have a few rows of battle/campaign studies, but the majority of my books concentrate on Southern history, biography, Confederate history, and postwar/memory studies. There is also an entire shelf devoted to Lincoln; I will read practically anything on Lincoln. It’s also nice to have room for journals, which I thoroughly enjoy reading. I subscribe to Civil War History, Journal of Southern History, and the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. A professor at the University of Richmond gave me his entire run of the JSH going back to 1960 upon his retirement two years ago, and John Coski recently unloaded his JAH going back to 1980.
You will also notice that my laptop is located on top of one of my shelves. I started to work standing about three years ago owing to back problems. It also keeps me awake. A prominent historian here in town who also works standing suggested that I have a desk custom made with plenty of room to spread material on. Perhaps at some point, but right now I use my desk and the rest of the shelf space, which seems to work well.
On a different, but related note today I engaged in my weekly ritual of mowing the lawn. Most of what we do as teachers and researchers is open-ended. The life of the mind includes few destinations. What I like about mowing the lawn is that it can be brought to completion. Basically, its therapeutic. Of course, as you can see it’s a big-ass lawn which takes about an hour to mow. Since this is my first address where I have to worry about house-related maintenance I did not think about who would handle this responsibility. I don’t complain, however, because it’s the one thing that I can do around the house. I say this as someone who is completely incompetent when it comes to fixing things. My wife handles those problems. For example, the other day one of the outlets failed. My immediate response was to call the electrician. My wife, on the other hand, went over to the hardware store bought the necessary parts and fixed it. I still have the satisfaction that I mowed the lawn and it looks damn good!