Perhaps the best way to pass on the value of historic preservation among the younger generation is to bring them to these places. Every year I bring my Civil War classes to at least one battlefield as well as other important sites. Although we don’t explicitly discuss issues of preservation I know for a fact that many of my students take away important lessons that can only be shared at the actual site. I have very little sense of whether an inclination to see these landscapes preserved is instilled as a result. To be completely honest, I’ve never seen it as my responsibility as a teacher to steer them to this position, but I am now wondering how I might go about teaching the history of Civil War battlefield preservation as a form of historical memory. I am not even sure what it would mean to teach battlefield preservation.
What would a reading list look like for such a course unit? Joan Zenzen’s study of Manassas comes to mind, but what else? Remember, I am teaching high school students. In the end I am much more interested in producing thoughtful students, who can appreciate the bigger picture than I am in a class of preservation advocates.