I recently received an email from someone who stumbled onto my blog while looking for places to study the Civil War in graduate school. Here is the email:
I stumbled on your blog while doing some of my research on grad schools. Since you seem to have your ear to the ground regarding Civil War academia, I was wondering if you know which grad schools have the best reputations for study of Civil War, have the best Civil War scholars, etc. I’ve already assembled a list of some of the schools, based in part from input I’ve received from guys like Gallagher, Robertson, and Davis, but I’d appreciate any information you might have. Thanks for your time.
Since I don’t really "have my ear to the ground" on this one I thought it might be worthwhile to appeal to some of my readers for help, especially those of you who teach the Civil War on the college level. still, I might take a crack at this one. First, I would think of the Civil War broadly and look at departments that have a strong concentration in Nineteenth-Century and/or Southern History. Obviously, the University of Virginia would be an ideal place to go given that Ed Ayers, Gary Gallagher, Michael Holt, Julian Bond, and Grace Hale all teach in the department. In addition, there is the Center For Digital History and the Carter G. Woodson Institute. Rice University has a strong concentration in Southern History, including John Boles who edits the Journal Of Southern History. If I were going to graduate school I would seriously consider the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Joe Glatthar, Jacquelyn D. Hall and Fitz Brundage cover a wide range of issues that connect to the Civil War. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro now has a Ph.D program in United States History and there is a strong concentration in the Nineteenth-Century, including Charles Bolton, Peter Carmichael, and Loren Schweninger among others. Penn State University has Carol Reardon, Mark Neely and William Blair on its faculty along with the George and Anne Richards Civil War Center. Finally, Ohio State University includes both Mark Grimsley and Joan Cashin. There is also a strong concentration in African-American history.
That’s just a few that I could think of off the top of my head. Perhaps Emory University, Arizona State University, University of Georgia as well as Harvard University should be considered. Anyone else want to offer their advice?