For the past ten years I have lived and worked in the beautiful state of Virginia. Unfortunately, that time will be coming to an end this summer as my wife and I transition to a new life in Boston. This is somewhat of an unexpected move. We’ve been talking about moving for a couple of years now, but with a wonderful career opportunity having been offered to my wife, that timetable has been pushed forward. Both of us love the city of Boston. It’s a big move for both of us and it is not going to be easy to leave Virginia.
We moved to Virginia in 2000 and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve been lucky enough to work at a school that has nurtured me both as a teacher and as a historian. My school encouraged me to go back to school for a second M.A. degree and has always encouraged and supported my teaching and writing projects outside of school. How many people can honestly say that their place of employment allows them to do what they truly love. My students continue to bring me great joy, but the toughest part of this move will be leaving my colleagues. They are an inspiration to me and serve as role models for what it means to live the life of a teacher and adviser.
It goes without saying that I am also going to miss the rich history that Virginia offers. Most of my friendships were made through a shared passion for the study and teaching of Virginia history. It’s worth repeating that it is this history that has defined my sense of home and place. It may sound a bit corny, but I also feel like I am leaving a list of long-departed “friends” that have helped me to better understand where I fit into this rich narrative called American history.
So, what’s next? When I first learned that we would be moving I scrambled to secure a new teaching position. I still love the classroom. About a week ago it occurred to me that this may not be the best decision. Boston has plenty of excellent private schools, but it also has a vibrant public history scene. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed over the past few years is the opportunity to work with history teachers and historic sites. With this in mind I’ve decided to take some time to get a sense of what I might do to allow me to continue to work in the area of history education/public history. Over the past week I’ve talked with a couple of people in the Boston area and I am optimistic that I will be able to put my work as an educator, historian, and social media advocate to good use. I couldn’t be more excited about what lies in store for me. For those of you who live and work in the area please feel free to offer any relevant advice that you think might help me to achieve these ends. I am open to anything and everything.
I am also going to enjoy some free time to complete a number of writing projects, including the black Confederate book. The research is going well and I am confident that the right book will not only help to move the discussion forward, but will sell well. The most exciting part of the move is the chance to sink my teeth into the history of Massachusetts. I am most passionate about the history that surrounds me so I have no doubt that within a short period of time I will come to embrace the history in the same way that I did Virginia’s history. I’ve thought about writing a memory study of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. There is plenty of material on the history leading up to its dedication in 1897, but very little on the twentieth century. Oh, and I hear they have a great deal of Revolutionary War history up there as well.
What does this mean for Civil War Memory? I think this is a wonderful opportunity to expand the focus of this blog. I am looking forward to exploring how the Civil War is remembered and commemorated in New England, which, I suspect, will broaden my readership and advance the overall mission of this site. And, yes, you can expect some commentary concerning that other period in American history that some claim to be important.
The most difficult part of this move is going to be the challenge of rooting for Boston sports teams given that I am a life long Philly fan. I tried to root for the Celtics on Saturday against the Miami Heat. The challenge was made easier because they were playing the Heat, but I anticipate future difficulties. My wife wondered why Boston had two basketball teams. I had to explain that one was a baseball team. Yes, there are going to be a number of challenges involved in this move.
As always, thanks to all of you for your continued support.