It Was Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today I wrote my first blog post. Below is a screenshot of what the site looked like during that first week. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I explored the page. At first glance it looks so incredibly flimsy and bare, but that is only in light of what has changed over the last decade. What you see remains the core of the site. For much of its life I thought of Civil War Memory as a blog, but I now think of it as a website that contains a blog. This is, in part, a function of how blogging platforms like WordPress have evolved over the years, but it has much more to do with the way in which blogging has transformed my life as an educator and historian.

Screenshot of Civil War Memory (November 2005)

In 2005 there were just a few of us blogging the Civil War as you can see in the screenshot’s blogroll. Ten years later there isn’t enough time in the day to read them all. Many of them are incredibly thoughtful. It’s especially encouraging to see so many students at the undergraduate and graduate levels sharing their research on blogs. The debate over the place of social media in education and the historical profession has thankfully subsided. If I contributed even a tiny bit to its spread as a platform for historians and students of history than my time here was worth it.

Over the past ten years I wrote 3,800 posts that garnered over 55,000 comments from over 2 million unique visitors.

Numerous predictions of the demise of blogging have come and gone. Certainly, some of the conversations have moved to micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but there is still a place for a running journal that allows for the necessary space to collect one’s thoughts and the chance to interact with readers. I still enjoy the freedom to be as thorough or as brief as a I choose with my writing here. Blogging has come to occupy a specific space for me alongside publishing opportunities online and in traditional print.

I have no plans to stop writing. In fact, the ongoing controversy surrounding the public display of Confederate iconography is a reminder of the positive role that blogs and social media can play in creating space for intelligent discussion about such tough questions. When this blog does come to an end it is comforting to know that the content will remain as part of the permanent digital collections at the Library of Congress and at Gettysburg College’s Musselman Library.

As always, thanks to all of you – especially those of you who have been with me since the early years – for your continued support. Not everyone who drops by agrees with what I write, but every successful blogger begins with a visit… your visit.

41 comments add yours

  1. Congrats Kevin. I have read nearly all of your posts since 2010 and greatly enjoyed them.

  2. Congratulations Kevin! I have been a daily reader since 2010 and yours was the very first Civil War blog I posted on. Thank you for all of the great work you have posted. I am amazed at how you have managed to keep the blog up and running for so long. These take a great deal of effort and time. Again, thank you for your great blog!

  3. Happy birthday to the blog and thanks to you, Kevin, for your important contribution to the public discussion of the Civil War.

  4. Nicely done, Kevin. Your blog has unfailingly featured interesting and worthwhile content, and some full-fledged conversations. CWM always rewards a visit even in a now-crowded field. I’m pleased to see that Eric, and Andrew, and I made an appearance on your inaugural CW blog roll. Of the 8 you listed then, I think at least 4 of them are still going (limping along, in my case).

    • Hi David,

      Very nice to hear from you and thanks for the kind words. It’s comforting to know that some of the people on that blogroll are still plugging away. Anyone who remembers the early years of online community has to place the group that you hosted right at the top.

  5. I guess it should be more “Happy Anniversary” than “Happy birthday” but it’s all good. I haven’t been here since the beginning and I think I got onto the blog in 2006 or 2007. Time flies!

      • I know that your blog page has charged designs several times over the years but I don’t believe I’ve seen what the page originally looked like before now.

        I’m still curious as to when (and how, for that matter) I first visited Civil War Memory. I wonder if there is a way you could find out when my first post was?

  6. Ten years is a wonderful run…and I hope you keep going. Happy Birthday CWM!

  7. Congrats Kevin. Civil War Memory has become a daily part of my mornings and I always find your insights thought-provoking and informative. It took me a long time to come around but I’m here now and I value your blog. – Michael Aubrecht

    • I appreciate the kind words, Michael. Utilized a couple of accounts about camp servants from your book, The Civil War in Spotsylvania County. Well done.

  8. Thank you Kevin. I look forward to reading your book on the subject. It’s way overdue for someone to publish a serious study to “combat” the falsehoods being perpetrated online – Michael.

  9. Congrats. Your work on the “black Confederate” myth has been both superb and relentless. I love it!!!! History deserves critical analysis, and on this point you and I are kindred spirits. Keep up the overall good work.

  10. Congrats Kevin. Two million “unique” visitors indeed! Did Connie and company at least send you a card?

    Best
    Rob

  11. A belated happy birthday to your wonderful blog. I get an education with every post. Is it a belated gift as well that Anonymous has posted a partial list with the names of some 300 KKK members, including a couple of regular names that float around, Ms Hathaway and Mr Lyons. I was disappointed they left out my former home state of Michigan for having any active chapters. There is some activity around Howell, but it is apparently quiet. For now.

  12. Kevin,

    I have enjoyed your site over the years and look forward to doing such for years to come.

    Sincerely,
    Neil

  13. Dear Kevin:
    Many Many Thanks for an informative and balanced blog. Informative because you’ve presented the true history of Blacks in the Civil War. Balanced because you’ve often presented the literary voices of female Civil War historians.
    Kathleen

  14. Congrads on 10 years, Kevin! 😀

    2005 has special meaning for me, also. That’s when I started using the Internet, at age 18 (the first time I went to college). My family (like many in that day) didn’t have home Internet yet, and so getting to use college computers was a rite of passage into manhood! 😀

    I wish I had been reading your page from the beginning, but I didn’t discover it until 2011. For the last 4 years, it’s been daily reading even if I don’t always have time to comment. Hope you’re blogging for many more years to come.

  15. Congratulations, Kevin. You are a gifted historian and educator. Looking forward to the next ten years!

  16. Congratulations. I check in with your blog nearly every day, and look forward your future writing.

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