‘The Kids Are Alright’

It seems like every day I wake up to news of a state having passed legislation or debating legislation that seeks to protect students from being exposed to certain aspects of the American past. We are told that exposure to the history of slavery, for example, may upset them or cause psychological damage of some sort. It’s clear that these people have never stepped foot into a classroom or spent time with young people.

With this in mind I wanted to share a recent interview with three students from Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute. All three are Pohanka Interns, who have worked at a National Park Service site during the summer months. They were accompanied by my good friend and CWI director, Peter Carmichael. The interview is well worth your time.

These students are all highly articulate and are passionate about the study of the past. What stood out most to me most is their fearlessness. They embrace the complexity of the past and are willing to tackle the tough questions that many wish to push under the table.

This program takes students seriously and impresses upon them just how important history is to the general public and the responsibility involved in delivering good history.

As a teacher I couldn’t be more pleased. Thanks to the entire CWI staff for giving these students an experience that they will not soon forget.

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8 comments… add one
  • Emmanuel Dabney Feb 10, 2022 @ 4:00

    It brings me so much joy to see that I was able to provide a pleasurable experience for Daniel. I look forward to working with him again this summer. This interview lifted my spirits.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 10, 2022 @ 4:05

      Hi Emmanuel. I am glad you caught this video. Daniel has a pretty sophisticated understanding of the archives already and I have no doubt that this is due, in large part, to your guidance. Well done.

      • Emmanuel Dabney Feb 10, 2022 @ 5:38

        Thank you, Kevin.

  • Peter Carmichael Feb 9, 2022 @ 13:05

    Thanks so much Kevin for posting. I appreciated the student reflections on the challenges of being a woman and an interpreter iat Civil War NPS sites. Your audience will catch that section near the end of the interview.

    • Kevin Levin Feb 9, 2022 @ 13:08

      My pleasure, Pete. Watching it yesterday made my day. I was impressed with the way the two students handled how the interviewer framed the issue of women and military history. Perhaps he should read something by Carol Reardon, Lesley Gordon, Barbara Gannon, Jennifer Murray, and Carrie Janney. All in all he did a good job with interviewing the students.

      Hope you are doing well.

      • Nathan Towne Feb 2, 2023 @ 6:03

        I am not really aware of much military history from any of those authors. There may be a little bit from Gannon, but I am not sure. I would have to look.

        There is some stuff out there. Margie Bearrs wrote a study of the Meridian Expedition which is valuable and I own a copy of. Margie Bearrs wrote some very good articles, as well. There is a biography of T.C. Hindman written by a woman named Diane Neal, which I have gotten some use out of, for sure. There is a short biography on James McPherson written by a woman named Elizabeth Whaley.

        The second volume of McWhiney’s biography on Bragg was written by a woman named Judith Lee Hallock, who also wrote a short book on Longstreet’s command in the west, but they are both absolutely horrendous, in my view. There was a very short book on Leo Polk published around 2013, which was really terrible.

        Again, I would definitely recommend that people check out some of Margie Bearrs stuff, though.

      • Nathan Towne Feb 2, 2023 @ 6:07

        I guess that there is some out there from Reardon. I haven’t really read any of it yet though.

    • Emmanuel Dabney Feb 10, 2022 @ 4:10

      And thank you Pete for the shout out.

      I’ll say that the collection includes two USCT muster rolls and a collection of two brothers who both earlier served in the 157th New York Infantry but one of them later became a commissioned officer in the 43rd USCT.

      But you and Daniel are correct–we aren’t dripping with USCT items. And there are many reasons that well pre-date the park’s establishment as to why.

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