While both books are important contributions to the field they do not approach the scope of Blight’s study, both in terms of the time frame and topics covered. These and other studies, along with an even larger number of scholarly articles, have shown that reconciliation did not always triumph, bitterness remained among veterans, and memory of slavery and emancipation may have been more vibrant throughout the postwar period than we thought. At the same time we do need to explain why our memory of the war since the 1960s has emphasized reconciliationist themes that go back to the turn of the twentieth century. In other words, we don’t want to err by minimizing the pull of reconciliation.
I’ve met some incredible history teachers over the years through this blog. A few of them have taught me as much as I hope this blog has helped their own classroom practices – none more so than Chris Lese, who teaches history at Marquette University High School. Chris is a passionate and talented teacher. Like me, he has the luxury of teaching a course on the Civil War. In fact, earlier this year I Skyped with his class. Later this morning we are going to connect online once again.
This year Chris’s class is hoping to do a little Civil War preservation in their local community. The class will create a tin plated QR Code memorial to be placed next to a forgotten bronze plaque in the woods of a Milwaukee public park. The memorial is dedicated to to Col. Jerome A. Watrous, who served in the Iron Brigade.
The first phase of the project is to focus on the memory of Civil War both during the early 20th century (this bronze plaque was dedicated in 1939) and today. Here are a few of the questions the students sent along.
What are some reasons people in the early 20th century dedicated monuments, plaques and memorials to Civil War soldiers?
What sort of issues were veterans facing during the early 20th century?
Did Civil War soldiers experience wide spread support across society? Who put up these memorials?
Why do you think it is important for younger generations to know about/remember Civil War history?
In this techno-crazy society that looks to get more and more digital, will memorials have to be digital
to persuade future people to care? Will stone and bronze monuments still have a major place remembering history?
What role does technology have in historical memory?
Earlier this week I introduced you to Byron Thomas, who is considering joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans. It looks like the research that will be necessary to establish his connection with a Confederate soldier will have to wait as Byron needs to write an essay on Robert E. Lee. Now being enrolled at a state university in South Carolina one would assume that Byron would ask a librarian and/or the history department for references. Instead, Byron is asking the good folks at the SHPG for their recommendations. This is a train wreck in the making and wrong on so many levels.
We’ve seen this group in action when it comes to doing history. If this is for a history class, Byron is going to be eaten alive by his professor.
Here is a wonderful example of what happens when we fail to train students on how to utilize the Internet. We all know it can be a powerful tool when used correctly, but the vast majority of students have little training on how to search for information and evaluate individual websites. We also need to train our students on how to do historical research. It needs to begin in middle school, if not before, and continue right through college. If Byron’s professors are simply assigning history essays without any training than they deserve to have to read what is likely to be produced as a result of what we see here.
And what we see here is basically the equivalent of approaching strangers on the street and asking them for reliable sources. How sad.
“The Civil War and American Art” examines how America’s artists represented the impact of the Civil War and its aftermath. The exhibition follows the conflict from palpable unease on the eve of war, to heady optimism that it would be over with a single battle, to a growing realization that this conflict would not end quickly and a deepening awareness of issues surrounding emancipation and the need for reconciliation. Genre and landscape painting captured the transformative impact of the war, not traditional history painting.
The first video is an overview, but the embed used here includes six more videos on individual paintings that follow automatically. Enjoy.