Study Reconstruction in Washington, D.C. This Summer

reconstruction_congressFor those of you who are history teachers looking for professional development opportunities this summer, I encourage you to check out what Ford’s Theatre is offering on the Reconstruction Era. This is still one of the most misunderstood periods in American history and yet an argument could be made that a deep understanding of this history and its legacy has never been more important.

The program will bring you to the nation’s capital for one week to work with historians in a classroom setting and on site at places such as Arlington National Cemetery, the National Archives and the Frederick Douglass House. While the workshop focuses on the broad history of Reconstruction it will use the D.C. as a case study to examine such topics as the postwar push for civil rights and the lives of slaves in area contraband camps and in the Freedman’s Village at Arlington.

I will lead a session on the final day, which will examine the long-term legacy of Reconstruction with an examination of the 1915 film “Birth of a Nation” as well as ways that teachers can connect more recent events to the study of Reconstruction.

Move fast as there are a limited number of spaces.

Confederate Monuments and the Limits of Public History

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend heading over to the Civil Discourse blog and reading Ashley Whitehead Luskey’s excellent essay on the ongoing controversy surrounding Confederate iconography. It is the most thorough essay that I have read to date and has helped me to continue to clarify my own thinking about this thorny issue. Ashley calls on public historians, “to convey to the broader public the unique professional skills, knowledge, and perspective that we possess on these topics and how such expertise can be put to work in their favor, if they choose to engage us in their discussions and decision-making.” Continue reading “Confederate Monuments and the Limits of Public History”

Hillary Clinton on Lincoln, the Civil War and Reconstruction

Last night at the Democratic Town Hall Meeting in Iowa Hillary Clinton offered up a reminder of why a solid grasp of Reconstruction is essential to our understanding of American history. While the 150th anniversary of the Civil War received a great deal of attention from historic sites, museums and a host of educational institutions, very little is being done to commemorate Reconstruction. Continue reading “Hillary Clinton on Lincoln, the Civil War and Reconstruction”

Mercy Street/Episode 2, “The Haversack”

Last night episode 2 of Mercy Street aired. The main characters continue to be developed and you probably now have a better sense of the main themes that are now coming into clearer view as well as the trajectory of the overall narrative.

What do you think so far? What do you like about the series and what has left you scratching your head?

Missed the first episode?

Mercy Street: A Reading List

Thought I would put together a short reading list for those of you watching Mercy Street. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. Rather, it offers a few suggestions to help get you started. Feel free to add further suggestions in the comments section below.

George Kundahl’s Alexandria Goes To War: Beyond Robert E. Lee offers a fairly comprehensive look at the city that serves as the setting for the show, but it does not delve much into the African-American experience. Continue reading “Mercy Street: A Reading List”