The Journey Continues

For the past ten years I have lived and worked in the beautiful state of Virginia.  Unfortunately, that time will be coming to an end this summer as my wife and I transition to a new life in Boston.  This is somewhat of an unexpected move.  We’ve been talking about moving for a couple of years now, but with a wonderful career opportunity having been offered to my wife, that timetable has been pushed forward.  Both of us love the city of Boston.  It’s a big move for both of us and it is not going to be easy to leave Virginia.

We moved to Virginia in 2000 and I have enjoyed every minute of it.  I’ve been lucky enough to work at a school that has nurtured me both as a teacher and as a historian.  My school encouraged me to go back to school for a second M.A. degree and has always encouraged and supported my teaching and writing projects outside of school.  How many people can honestly say that their place of employment allows them to do what they truly love.  My students continue to bring me great joy, but the toughest part of this move will be leaving my colleagues.  They are an inspiration to me and serve as role models for what it means to live the life of a teacher and adviser.

It goes without saying that I am also going to miss the rich history that Virginia offers.  Most of my friendships were made through a shared passion for the study and teaching of Virginia history.  It’s worth repeating that it is this history that has defined my sense of home and place.  It may sound a bit corny, but I also feel like I am leaving a list of long-departed “friends” that have helped me to better understand where I fit into this rich narrative called American history.

So, what’s next?  When I first learned that we would be moving I scrambled to secure a new teaching position.  I still love the classroom.  About a week ago it occurred to me that this may not be the best decision.  Boston has plenty of excellent private schools, but it also has a vibrant public history scene.  One of the things that I’ve enjoyed over the past few years is the opportunity to work with history teachers and historic sites.  With this in mind I’ve decided to take some time to get a sense of what I might do to allow me to continue to work in the area of history education/public history.  Over the past week I’ve talked with a couple of people in the Boston area and I am optimistic that I will be able to put my work as an educator, historian, and social media advocate to good use.  I couldn’t be more excited about what lies in store for me.  For those of you who live and work in the area please feel free to offer any relevant advice that you think might help me to achieve these ends.  I am open to anything and everything.

I am also going to enjoy some free time to complete a number of writing projects, including the black Confederate book.  The research is going well and I am confident that the right book will not only help to move the discussion forward, but will sell well.  The most exciting part of the move is the chance to sink my teeth into the history of Massachusetts.  I am most passionate about the history that surrounds me so I have no doubt that within a short period of time I will come to embrace the history in the same way that I did Virginia’s history.   I’ve thought about writing a memory study of the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  There is plenty of material on the history leading up to its dedication in 1897, but very little on the twentieth century.  Oh, and I hear they have a great deal of Revolutionary War history up there as well. 🙂

What does this mean for Civil War Memory?  I think this is a wonderful opportunity to expand the focus of this blog.  I am looking forward to exploring how the Civil War is remembered and commemorated in New England, which, I suspect, will broaden my readership and advance the overall mission of this site.  And, yes, you can expect some commentary concerning that other period in American history that some claim to be important.

The most difficult part of this move is going to be the challenge of rooting for Boston sports teams given that I am a life long Philly fan.  I tried to root for the Celtics on Saturday against the Miami Heat.  The challenge was made easier because they were playing the Heat, but I anticipate future difficulties.  My wife wondered why Boston had two basketball teams.  I had to explain that one was a baseball team.  Yes, there are going to be a number of challenges involved in this move.

As always, thanks to all of you for your continued support.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

34 comments… add one
  • Tim Abbott Mar 1, 2011 @ 7:02

    You could also explore how memory plays into the repurposing of the old Cyclorama building, constructed in 1884 to house Paul Philippoteaux’s Gettysburg cyclorama and now the core facility in the Boston Center for the Arts complex in the South End. As for the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Shaw Memorial, its position opposite the steps of the State House makes it a witness to every political gathering and demonstration that is held on Beacon Hill.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 1, 2011 @ 7:06

      Hi Tim,

      That sounds like an interesting topic as well, but as it stands it looks like the Shaw Memorial is going to be a primary focus for me. I look forward to getting together with you at some point.

  • John Buchanan Feb 28, 2011 @ 19:54


    As a displaced Bostonian I am envious.

    When you settle into the Hub of the Universe, here is what what you have to do experience Boston.

    1. Go to the North End in August and experience the various saints’ festivals. While there, eat at Maurizios. Its easy to find…stand looking at the Paul Revere Statue and look left…there it is.

    2. Go to the Museum of Fine Arts. “Nuff said.

    3. The Boston Atheneum is a sight to behold and a great place for alternate research.

    4. Walk the Freedom Trail.

    5. Never mind the Duckboat Tours (they are fun!) go for a ride on the Swan Boats in Bosotn Common.

    6. By all means go to Fenway Park but to really know Boston go to a Bruins game and then go to a kids game at a rink in any park.

    7. Go to Milton and climb Big Blue Hill and visit the Trailside Museum.

    8. Walk through Jamaica Plain and listen to the incredible diversity of cultures that coexist.

    9. The New England Aquarium is a great visit.

    10. Never mind the Union Oyster House (Its good, but…); go to the No Name Restaurant on Commonwealth Pier and order the fish chowder.

    Fair winds and Godspeed….the The Old Dominion’s loss is the Bay State’s gain.

    • James F. Epperson Mar 1, 2011 @ 3:48

      Although most of my experiences with Boston are from 25 years ago or more, I will heartily second Mr. Buchanan’s suggestions re: the Freedom Trail and the Aquarium.

      • Kevin Levin Mar 1, 2011 @ 3:49

        My wife and I have spent a few summers in Boston so we are familiar with a great deal of its history. That said, I look forward to the opportunity to explore these sites in much more detail.

  • Tim Abbott Feb 24, 2011 @ 6:40

    I will look forward to sharing a Fenway Frank with you, Kevin. Best wishes to you both!

    • Kevin Levin Feb 24, 2011 @ 6:45

      That sounds like a plan. Thanks.

  • Kirsten Schultz Feb 18, 2011 @ 10:49

    Good luck on your new life in Boston, Kevin! I’ve spent some pleasant research time at the Atheneum, but have no sage advice on the city itself.

    Having just completed a unit on First Nations music, I wonder how Native Americans are remembered in New England and how that might be integrated into memory of the Revolution.

  • Michael Aubrecht Feb 17, 2011 @ 11:36

    Best of luck Kevin, I look forward to seeing some posts on the Revolution as that region will be a treasure trove of information for you. As I have focused on that era for the last year or so in my own work, I can tell you that there is plenty of ‘historical-memory’-related topics that will be right up your alley. Who knows? Maybe you and I could do a compilation piece on Loyalists sometime. (Just try to refrain from rooting for the Red Sox.)

  • Dan Wright Feb 17, 2011 @ 4:58

    All the best to you and your family.
    I look forward to some New England perspective on Civil War memory.
    And I think Virginia was fortunate to have you as a resident for a short time.

  • David Woodbury Feb 16, 2011 @ 23:37

    Good for you Kevin. What an exciting transition. And so fitting that you finish your black Confederate book in the belly of the abolitionist beast.

  • Bob Feb 16, 2011 @ 17:39

    That picture of Boston you have up is a little misleading….lol You need an image of snow and wind!

  • Jackie Feb 16, 2011 @ 15:54

    Kevin, I moved up here to Greater Boston from Louisiana about 13 years ago for my husband to attain a PhD from MIT. From what I’ve gathered from locals ,they don’t know what the Civil War was. There is GREAT focus on the Revolutionary War here, esp. in high school. Best of luck with the sticker shock- and yes, those groceries really are 20% more here.

  • Kevin Levin Feb 16, 2011 @ 15:20

    Thanks everyone. You guys are awesome.

  • Shane Landrum Feb 16, 2011 @ 14:07

    A few thoughts, in no particular order:

    Some of the best intellectual opportunities for historians in the Boston area are the seminar series hosted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, which range across women’s/gender history, immigration and urban history, environmental history, and more. Look slightly farther afield, and you’ll find that nearly every university’s history department has a speaker series of some sort. These will give you a chance to find out about people’s research before they publish it, which can be exciting.

    And then there are the libraries: the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America is open to anyone with an interest in doing research in its collections, and of course the Boston Public Library is wonderful too. If you need more specialized research resources, many of the local academic libraries are relatively open to people without university IDs as well.

    Good luck with your relocation.

  • Eric Leonard Feb 16, 2011 @ 14:04

    Such exciting news! Good luck on the move.

  • Paul Taylor Feb 16, 2011 @ 13:39

    Best Wishes on your upcoming move. The journey does indeed continue. I also had the pleasure of living in Virginia, though for only four years. Nevertheless, they were four of the fondest years of my adult life, so I empathize with any mixed emotions you may have. Safe travels!

  • Sherree Feb 16, 2011 @ 13:04

    Prediction. Virginia is in your heart and you will never be able to completely leave it imaginatively.

    Thanks for everything, Kevin.

    Some pointers. Ask the old timers how to negotiate a rotary. Please go to Union Oyster House and enjoy the best seafood in the world. Go to Marblehead and ask a lobster fisherman to let you go out to sea with him. (I actually did this. It was an experience I never forgot) Take a dip in Revere Beach, weather permitting, or if you are brave, in the winter with the polar boys, then get some clams at Kelley’s. Don’t forget to go to Roxbury. Perhaps even do your Civil War contemplating there. A question to ask would be, it seems, does the legacy of the Civil War extend to the poverty that once engulfed Roxbury and maybe still does? And, of course, don’t forget to go to Harvard and just marvel at the brilliance of it all. You’re the best, Kevin. The best of luck to you and Micheala. It is an historic city, a torn city, an ugly, mean city….a wondrous city……it is Boston…such an American town…hate to see you go, but am happy for you at the same time….ciao….

  • Matt McKeon Feb 16, 2011 @ 12:57

    Welcome to Massachusetts.
    We hate Yankees up here the way Bragg Bowling never could. The New York Yankees that is.

  • Eric Wittenberg Feb 16, 2011 @ 11:45

    Best wishes, Kevin. I’m sure you will do fine there, and it’s still possible to root for Philly teams from afar. I’ve done so rather well for nearly 24 years now.

    If I can be of any help, please don’t hesitate to ask. Boston is one of my favorite towns, but I surely do hope you like snow……

    • Ted Feb 16, 2011 @ 18:01

      Hey Kevin,
      Thank God you’re getting out of the Commonwealth! I didn’t think we could get so lucky. Suggestion: Just take all your old blogs, change “south” or “Confederate” to “northeast” and “New England”
      Bada – bing! You can continue the same broken record routine you have for the past few years.
      Perhaps you could look into Robert Shaw’s personal letters too. That should make a nice paradox for you.
      God Speed

  • William Richardson Feb 16, 2011 @ 10:48


    I wish you nothing but good luck and best wishes in your journey. Though you and I do not , have not, and most likely will not always see eye to eye, I have learned a good deal from you and your blog. Your moving to Boston is their gain and Virginia’s loss. Take care and continue you your fine work on Civil War Memory.

  • Laura McCarty Feb 16, 2011 @ 10:32

    Once you get there, you’ll need to go by and meet the fine folks at the Massachusetts Humanities Council,

    Best wishes!

  • James F. Epperson Feb 16, 2011 @ 10:28

    From living in Jefferson’s shadow to living in the seat of the Adams family!

  • James F. Epperson Feb 16, 2011 @ 10:26

    Life is a journey with many stops—here’s hoping you do as well in Boston as in Charlottesville.

  • Chris Meekins Feb 16, 2011 @ 8:27

    Congrats. And what are your terms for lodging researchers?

  • Corey Meyer Feb 16, 2011 @ 7:28

    Congrats on the move and possible career change. And, while you are digging around in the history of the state of Mass., let me know if you run into any of my ancestors…there is a big pile of them out there…I’ll send the long list of names later. 🙂

    Best of luck!

  • Terry Johnston Feb 16, 2011 @ 7:20

    You’ll do great in Boston. Onward and upward…

  • David Silkenat Feb 16, 2011 @ 7:08

    Good luck on the move, Kevin. Boston’s a great town.

  • Julie Holcomb Feb 16, 2011 @ 6:57

    Congratulations, Kevin. I wish you both the best. It sounds like a great move for both of you. I will admit to being more than a little envious. I love Boston. But more than that, having the time to write and to research sounds like pure bliss to me, especially right now as I stare at the stacks of papers and master’s theses needing/demanding my attention.

  • JC Feb 16, 2011 @ 6:54

    Welcome to the Hub, Kevin. We’re supposed to have warm(er) weather this weekend, so if you’re lucky, maybe some of the two feet of snow and ice we have lying around will be melted.

  • Robert Moore Feb 16, 2011 @ 6:49

    Congrats on the upcoming move! Boston’s a wonderful place and I can’t wait to visit there again.

    The memory angle from North needs some serious attention. The question is if you will find it as nearly as vibrant in the North, or if it will be more indifference.

    Hey, and with all that free time… PhD time?

  • Emmanuel Dabney Feb 16, 2011 @ 6:47


    Are you making plays on words: “… I am confident that the write book…”?

    In all seriousness, I wish yall the best in Boston. It’s a little too cold for me, all but three months of the year (heck even in August I was shivering). Pack some warm clothes.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 16, 2011 @ 6:48

      Thanks Em. That’s what happens when you don’t proofread. Thanks for the kind words.

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