It Was Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today I wrote my first blog post. Below is a screenshot of what the site looked like during that first week. I couldn’t help but chuckle as I explored the page. At first glance it looks so incredibly flimsy and bare, but that is only in light of what has changed over the last decade. What you see remains the core of the site. For much of its life I thought of Civil War Memory as a blog, but I now think of it as a website that contains a blog. This is, in part, a function of how blogging platforms like WordPress have evolved over the years, but it has much more to do with the way in which blogging has transformed my life as an educator and historian.

Screenshot of Civil War Memory (November 2005)

In 2005 there were just a few of us blogging the Civil War as you can see in the screenshot’s blogroll. Ten years later there isn’t enough time in the day to read them all. Many of them are incredibly thoughtful. It’s especially encouraging to see so many students at the undergraduate and graduate levels sharing their research on blogs. The debate over the place of social media in education and the historical profession has thankfully subsided. If I contributed even a tiny bit to its spread as a platform for historians and students of history than my time here was worth it. Continue reading “It Was Ten Years Ago Today”

The Passing of a Pioneer in History Blogging

with Ralph Luker, Mark Grimsley, and Rebecca Goetz at the 2007 SHA in Richmond
with Ralph Luker, Mark Grimsley, and Rebecca Goetz at the 2007 SHA in Richmond

I was very sad to hear this morning of the passing of Ralph Luker. Ralph taught American history at a number of schools and was the author of numerous studies. He also edited two volumes of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers. Many of you, however, know Ralph from his days at History News Network’s Cliopatria blog. Our paths crossed almost immediately after I started blogging back in 2005. Even at that early stage Ralph was already promoting history blogging and bloggers. In 2007 Civil War Memory was awarded Cliopatria’s Best Individual Blog.

Ralph was a huge supporter of my blogging early on and understood how I was trying to leverage it to promote my research beyond the site itself. He introduced me to various historians and on more than one occasion recommended me for inclusion on conference panels. Ralph was incredibly generous and I remain very grateful. Continue reading “The Passing of a Pioneer in History Blogging”

Charging Forward

Things have quieted down to the point where I can finally get back to some serious work. To ensure that I get out of the house I renewed my membership at the Boston Athenaeum, which is really a wonderful place to work. In fact, I will likely head down there today in a couple of hours. Over the next few months I will explore opportunities beyond the high school classroom. They include teaching a research seminar at the American Antiquarian Society, helping an organization here in town train local history instructors to teach Reconstruction and looking into volunteering at local historic sites.


On the writing front the big project remains completing my book manuscript on Confederate camp servants and the myth of the black Confederate soldier. The rise of the narrative in the wake of the debates surrounding the Confederate flag have all but confirmed to me that the project is still very relevant to our current conversation about Civil War memory.

I am also working on two smaller projects. The first is a much revised and expanded essay on Confederate military executions. I published a short article in Civil War Times a few years ago, but have decided to return to it to deepen the analysis. This will appear as a chapter in a forthcoming volume of essays published by the Louisiana State University Press. In addition, I am close to finishing a magazine essay on the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments that focuses on the period from April to August 1865 in South Carolina. Continue reading “Charging Forward”

Father of Confederate Flag Waving Daughter Responds

Over the weekend I was contacted by Ronald Creatore, whose child was photographed waving a Confederate flag on the Gettysburg battlefield as part of a school trip. After exchanging a few blog comments and emails I decided to extend an invitation to write a guest post. Below you will find his response to a post I wrote that explores what I believe is the correct context of the photograph in question.

First, in your online reply to me you make the point that your website is “not a newspaper, (but) a blog.” I understand the distinction. Your blog gives you the right to post whatever opinion you wish to convey. I respect your right to do that, however, you impress me as a serious academician, and as you are a PhD MA graduate of the University of Richmond with an impressive list of publications, I would anticipate that you would want to engage in the type of ethics and integrity in research and publication that is expected of a serious academician. To ensure this integrity, in my opinion, requires a more in-depth understanding of both sides of a particular issue before you can contribute something of value to the public discourse, and given that you hadn’t attempted to reach out to me to understand my point-of-view on the “context” issue, I felt that this failure fell short of the standard that you would set for yourself as an academician. This point is moot now that you have graciously offered to engage in this dialogue, and given that you have extended the opportunity for me to provide a guest posting. Continue reading “Father of Confederate Flag Waving Daughter Responds”

Introducing the 10th Anniversary Re-Design

Welcome to Civil War Memory’s 10th anniversary re-design. Now I know that the real anniversary won’t take place until November, but I decided to cheat a little and declare all of 2015 as marking this personal milestone. Over the years this site has completely transformed my professional life. It has generated an incredible amount of content, both on the blog and beyond. What better way to mark this anniversary than with a new design that highlights this content and attracts the kind of interest that will hopefully lead to new opportunities.

While Civil War Memory began strictly as a blog it quickly transformed into a larger portal, featuring all kinds of content from a relatively new book to a wide range of online and print publications to my availability as a speaker. In short, it became a place where I could share my passion for the study of history with the public.

In thinking about the re-design, I wanted a site that was attractive and easy to navigate. I am a huge fan of minimalist websites that feature only the essentials and offer readers as few options to exit the site as possible. The design had to be attractive, but not overshadow the content. I hope this design at least approaches this crucial balance. Continue reading “Introducing the 10th Anniversary Re-Design”