In this short video the Civil War Trust’s Garry Adelman shares his thoughts about ‘becoming a Civil War historian.’ Garry hinted to me last year that he was thinking about working on just such a video.
Unfortunately, Garry gets a bit too bogged down in drawing a distinction between the public and academic historian. In 2016 the boundaries between the two have become increasingly fuzzy. The only thing such a distinction accomplishes is to make people feel defensive or raise the tired question of who is and who is not a historian. No need to mention it in order to make what I think is a helpful point.
What I like about the video, however, is the scope of the kinds of skills that are essential to sharing one’s love of history. Rather than worry about public v. academic history it might help to think in terms of what Jason Steinhauer refers to as “history communicators.” Much of what Garry references fits neatly into this more generalized understanding of how history is currently being taught in a wide range of settings.
One of the things that I value about the field of Civil War history is that it includes a wide range of voices with different backgrounds and training, which moves us beyond the academic v. public (or even popular) historian discussion.
It captures more and more how I reflect on my own work.