I am back home and relaxing after three days in Richmond for the SHA. While I am not a big fan of academic conferences I can honestly say that I had a wonderful time in Richmond. The SHA is a relatively small conference, which makes it much more of a relaxing experience. There is more time to catch up with friends and do a little social networking. The Society for Civil War Historians annual banquet dinner and panel on Thursday was a blast. The panel featured John Coski, A. Wilson Greene, and Alex Wise and their focus was on the challenges of public history in the Richmond area. John’s talk was the most engaging as he examined the difficulties now facing the Museum of the Confederacy. Next year’s meeting will take place in New Orleans. I will be speaking at the dinner banquet along with Mark Grimsley and Anne Sarah Rubin, and the panel will address issues related to the Civil War in cyberspace. This is the first time since Hurricane Katrina that the SHA will return to the city.
After the banquet a bunch of us made our way to a bar where we spent the next few hours. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with a few of my friends who left just a bit too early. You will be happy to know, however that it was a small group of bloggers that closed the place down. I had a great time chatting with Mark Grimsley, Rebecca Goetz (Historianess – a.k.a. Pepper’s Mom) and Ralph Luker (Cliopatria). All three remind me that not all academics are boring intellectuals; conversations with such people truly make the conference experience worthwhile. I also met fellow bloggers Andrew Duppstadt (Civil War Navy) and Chris Graham (Whig Hill). Finally, I had a nice talk with Dana Shoaf, editor of Civil War Times Illustrated, and I agreed to write a few articles that pull material out of my current research projects –a real nice guy.
I did take in two sessions. The first examined Unionism in the South. Victoria Bynum’s and Barton Myers’s papers were quite good. Congratulations to Barton who is finishing up his dissertation at the University of Georgia, but just signed a book deal with LSU to have his M.A. thesis published–that’s right, his M.A. thesis! This morning I went to an excellent session on postwar tourism in the South and the Lost Cause, which is a topic that I am exploring in my Crater manuscript.
Last night I drove over to the University of Richmond for a party for former graduate students and Freeman Professors. [The picture at the top is with my M.A. thesis advisor Robert Kenzer and the one to the left includes J(left to right) John Deal (Library of Virginia and editor of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography and Jason Phillips, author of the new book DieHard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility (Univ. of Georgia Press, 2007)]. It was great to be able to catch up with classmates and former professors including Daniel Sutherland.
The city of Richmond itself is one big construction site. It will be very interesting to see what comes of all this work in a few years. Unfortunately, I didn’t take too many photos. I did get up early Friday morning to take a few photos of Capitol Square.