So far I am thoroughly enjoying teaching my research seminar at the American Antiquarian Society. I have a really nice group of students from four different colleges in the Worcester area. They come with varying backgrounds and interests, but they all seem to be motivated. Tomorrow will be our third meeting. As I’ve mentioned before, the class is divided between a reading list and work in the archives itself. The readings are of course important, but what the students are primarily interested in is learning how to use the archives. In short, they want to get their hands dirty.
AAS Students Working With Archival Sources
It’s been an interesting challenge in thinking through the steps it takes to familiarize students with the research process. Last week we discussed Louis Masur’s brief history of the Civil War before giving students their first exposure to actual documents. I had an AAS curator pull together six documents from their graphic arts collection and talk briefly with the group about how to think about these sources. I then divided the group into pairs to work with a single source. Students used the document analysis worksheets provided by the National Archives to explore their assigned source. We discussed the purpose of each source and tried to identify as many motifs and themes as possible. It’s a start. [click to continue…]
As I mentioned last week, Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign edited by Gary Gallagher and Caroline Janney is now available online.
Ira Berlin, The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States (University of Georgia Press, 2015).
Greg Downs and Kate Masur eds., The World the Civil War Made (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).
Kristin L. Gallas and James DeWolf Perry eds., Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites (Rowan & Littlefield, 2015).
Tiya Miles, Tales from the Haunted South: Dark Tourism and Memories of Slavery from the Civil War Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).
K. Stephen Prince, Radical Reconstruction: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2015).
Christian G. Samito, Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015).
Ben Wright and Zachary Dresser eds., Apocalypse and the Millennium in the American Civil War Era (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).
Yesterday’s session on the role of public historians in the ongoing debate surrounding Confederate iconography at #aaslh2015 went extremely well. We had a full house and the comments were incredibly thoughtful. I love that the participants didn’t wait for the allotted time at the end of the session. They jumped right in, which suggests that public historians have a great deal on their minds and want to be engaged.
The question of how to proceed, however, is less than certain. I sensed a fairly sharp split among the audience and even the panelists. On the one hand there is the push for context and interpretation along the narrow lines of some form of wayside exhibit. This can take many forms, but the basic assumption at work here is that historical context has the potential to defuse the strong emotions on both sides by neutralizing the site. In providing historical context we acknowledge that what may have at one point represented a community no longer does so without removing it and offending those who still find meaning in its presence. [click to continue…]
The official release date is a little over a week away, but Amazon is currently showing Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign as in-stock. This is the latest release in UNC Press’s Military Campaigns of the Civil War series following an eight year lull. This latest volume is edited by Gary Gallagher and Caroline Janney. The volume includes an essay of mine, which focuses on how white Union soldiers responded to fighting alongside USCTs at the Crater. This is research that should have made it into my book on the Crater.
Here is a list of contributors and the titles of their essays: [click to continue…]
The editorial team at The Washington Post has decided to jump into the debate surrounding Confederate iconography. Unfortunately, they provide little more than the standard platitudes and offer nothing for communities that are in the midst of what is a highly emotional and divisive discussion.
At the center of the argument is the assumption that the changing of a name or removal of a monument represents the “airbrushing” of history. The term is never defined, but the author appears to believe that any alteration to a community’s commemorative landscape involves a conscious effort to look away or ignore history. [click to continue…]