Tomorrow I fly to Nashville to help lead a group of history teachers on a 10-day Civil War road trip to Washington, D.C. The trip is funded by the Teaching American History program and organized by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale. It promises to be an exciting and educational experience for all involved. I was asked to help out as a historian/guide. My main responsibility is to talk with the teachers at the end of the day, help them to synthesize what they learned, and how it might apply to the classroom. Once in Virginia I will be more involved with leading some of the tours. Continue reading
My reading has been all over the place this summer, though much of it has been centered on the history of the Holocaust and Germany, which I will teach for the first time this year. I’ve also decided as a new transplant to Boston that it is time to look more closely at the abolitionist movement.
Joseph Ellis, Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence, (Knopf, 2013).
Julie Roy Jeffrey, Abolitionists Remember: Antislavery Autobiographies and the Unfinished Work of Emancipation, (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).
Barbara Krauthamer, Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
W. Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform, (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).
Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860, (Cornell University Press, 1998).
Henry McNeal Turner, Freedom’s Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner, (reprint, University of West Virginia Press, 2013).
Bruce Watson, Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream, (Penguin 2005).
With not much else going on today I thought I would pass along the news that I’ve agreed to join the faculty for the 2014 Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. This will be my third straight year taking part and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I am especially excited given that the focus of next year’s institute is right up my alley.
As it stands it looks like I will be giving a talk on the battle of the Crater and historical memory as well as leading a break-out session, dine-in session, and a workshop for the scholarship students. It’s a full plate, but it promises to be a lot of fun. Additional historians who have already signed on include Caroline Janney, John Hennessy, Brooks Simpson, Frank O’Reilly, Barton Myers, Robert E.L. Krick, Megan Kate Nelson, and Allen Guelzo.
The year’s institute was sold out, so it might be a good idea to register early, which you can do by clicking here.
One of my favorite places to take students in Charlottesville was the University of Virginia’s Confederate Cemetery. It was a short walk and it allowed me to talk about wartime hospitals as well as postwar mourning and the evolution of the Lost Cause. I encouraged my students to look at and think about the headstones and to pick up trash. The men were buried in long trenches and when the cemetery was dedicated there were no individual headstones. That gradually changed and in recent years the local SCV has organized to order new markers from the federal government. The project continues, in part, with the financial support of the federal government. It’s a program that I contributed to on more than once occasion while in Charlottesville. Continue reading
Once again the Civil War blogosphere has descended into the tired debate of who is and who is not a historian. The latest foray into this web of conceptual analysis can be found at Brooks Simpson’s site in response to the recent editorial about Civil War reenacting. I have very little patience for these discussions because they get us nowhere. I’ve had others debate whether I am a historian, which for the most part has been used to question the legitimacy of what I write specifically on this blog as opposed to anything else I’ve done over the past few years.
While I will never lose sleep over this issue, one thing that is not up for debate is my own self-identity as a high school history teacher. You will notice that the old tagline is once again visible under the header. I cracked a little smile yesterday when I decided to do this. When my wife and I first moved to Boston in July 2011 I was excited about the prospect of a year away from the classroom. My goal was to finish the Crater book and make a large dent in the Black Confederates book and a host of other projects. Things didn’t work out as planned. Sure, I finished the book and I was able to stay fairly productive, but there were periods of inactivity and some of it was accompanied by a good deal of depression. No one pushed me to do anything and at times I found it debilitating. Continue reading