CWI Director Peter Carmichael was interviewed for Civil War Monitor's "Behind the Lines" video series in January 2015. In the video, Carmichael highlights some of the speakers and programs awaiting attendees of the 2015 Civil War Institute Summer Conference, and weighs in on the recent controversy surrounding the state of Civil War military history. Challenging the idea that the future of Civil War scholarship is in crisis, Carmichael argues that debates over classification don't do the field any good and that instead of focusing on artificial distinctions, Civil War historians ought to focus on learning from the diverse perspectives embodied in recent scholarship and celebrating the integration of military history, cultural history, social history, gender history, political history, environmental history, etc.
Under the leadership of Managing Editor Heather Clancy ‘15, the Civil War Institute’s blog, The Gettysburg Compiler, has had a banner year, reaching new heights of readership and visitor engagement with posts. Over the course of the fall semester, student writers for the blog have experimented with a variety of new formats, including Warpinion editorials, Archival Adventures, Battlefield Correspondence reports from Oak Ridge and the Virginia Memorial, and Point/Counterpoint pieces on topics ranging from Civil War reenacting to lecture reviews. Old favorites, such as the video series “Special Collections Roadshow,” have also returned to the pages of the Compiler, bringing new episodes dedicated to investigating war-related artifacts housed in Musselman Library’s Special Collections & College Archives. Student writers have brought their training as historians to topics such as the commercialism of Gettysburg, battlefield art and monuments, the ghost tour industry, Civil War music, the “dark turn” in Civil War scholarship, popular memory of Stonewall Jackson, and the ethics of archival research, sparking and spurring new cyber-conversations about the interpretation and relevance of history in 21st-century society. Browse The Gettysburg Compiler.
Since 2011, CWI’s Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program has provided opportunities for Gettysburg College students to do paid work on the frontlines of history, interning at a wide range of museums, national parks, and historical organizations. In November 2014, representatives from 8 host sites came to Gettysburg to interview applicants for positions for the 2015 summer season. In the wake of the interviews, 21 students have been awarded Pohanka positions. In addition to providing frontline interpretation at their host parks and sites, intern projects for 2015 will range from exploring Thaddeus Stevens’ relationship to Gettysburg College to investigating the historic landscape of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House. Interns will receive a $1,500 stipend from the CWI and free on-site housing at their respective parks/museums. More information about the Pohanka program available here.
Curated by Lauren Roedner ’13, the Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens exhibit on display in Musselman Library from November 2012-December 2013 traced the role of enslaved African Americans, black soldiers, and freedpeople in transforming mid-19th century understandings of human rights and citizenship. Based on materials from the collection of Angelo Scarlato, the exhibit included a strong teaching component and engaged significant numbers of Gettysburg College students (as well as visiting teachers) in hands-on object study. Students enrolled in a wide variety of courses visited Special Collections over the exhibit’s run to deepen their understanding of the power dynamics of slavery, the experiences of black soldiers, and the complicated realities of emancipation through investigating artifacts ranging from slave collars to enlistment papers to a playbill from Ford’s Theatre.
Students in Professor Scott Hancock’s Spring 2013 “Slavery, Rebellion and Emancipation in the Atlantic World” course used the exhibit as a springboard for a series of interpretive essays based on the artifacts. Each student chose a piece in the exhibit and conducted independent research on the artifact in order to gain a deeper understanding of how the black men, women, and children connected with the artifact succeeded or failed in their attempts to achieve some measure of freedom. Ultimately, the story the students sought to tell was one of people fighting for humanity within a dehumanizing institution.
Several of the essays written for this course have recently been published in the exhibition catalogue, Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens: African American Artifacts of the Civil War. Student contributors include Jordan Cinderich ’15, Tricia Runzel ’13, Avery Lentz ’14, Lauren Roedner ’13, Brian Johnson ’14, Lincoln Fitch ’14, and Michele Seabrook ’13.
In Fall 2014, CWI co-sponsored an exhibition of works by internationally renowned, New York-based contemporary artist Michael Scoggins at Schmucker Art Gallery. Opening September 10, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” features a selection of large scale works on paper reflecting Scoggins’ interest in military and political topics. Scoggins’ works actively appropriate popular imagery to take a critical stance on contemporary politics, historical memory and the formation of cultural identities and biases. Two new works in this vein, The Gettysburg Address and Battle of Gettysburg, were created specifically for this exhibition at Gettysburg College.
CWI Fellow Sarah Johnson ’15 and Assistant Director Ian Isherwood will travel to England this March to present a jointly-authored paper at a conference on the Great War (World War I) at the University of Oxford. The symposium is sponsored by the Globalising and Localising the Great War Project, a partnership between Pembroke College and the Oxford Centre for Global History aimed at encouraging ground-breaking new research and fresh insights which challenge often clichéd standard perspectives on an event that shaped— and continues to shape— the modern world. Johnson and Isherwood’s paper, “‘Yankee to the ranks from the towns and the tanks’: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the First World War,” grew out of Johnson’s 2014 Mellon Summer Scholar project, mentored by Isherwood, and represents the sort of student-faculty research collaboration that distinguishes a Gettysburg education. In addition to participating in the conference and networking with colleagues from across the world, Johnson and Isherwood plan to spend a day researching in the library of the Imperial War Museum (London). Read more of Sarah’s work on Gettysburg and the First World War here.
As part of its mission of engaging students, scholars, and general audiences in thoughtful conversations about history and memory, CWI has recently joined the National Council on Public History (NCPH) as a Patron member, extending and expanding the ties forged between the two organizations in 2013, when CWI associate director Jill Ogline Titus was elected to three-year term on NCPH’s board of directors. A membership association dedicated to making the past useful in the present and to encouraging collaboration between historians and their publics, NCPH is the nation’s leading professional organization for public historians. The organization establishes professional standards, ethics, and best practices; provides professional development opportunities; fosters networking and a sense of community among public history practitioners; maintains the popular blog History@Work; supports history education; and publishes the field’s journal of record, The Public Historian. As a Patron member, CWI helps to sustain the important work carried out by the organization, supporting the resources and frameworks that will benefit our students and our colleagues for years to come. Read more about CWI’s support for NCPH here.
In the summer of 2014, Brian Johnson ’14 was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Robert Sibley Cooper, Jr. Fellowship. This summer fellowship, established by Ann Cooper in memory of her husband Robert Sibley Cooper, Jr., provides a Gettysburg College student or recent graduate the opportunity to spend a summer working at the Civil War Institute. As the inaugural Cooper Fellow, Johnson assisted CWI Director Peter Carmichael with research for his forthcoming book on Civil War soldiers and played a central role in staffing the annual Civil War Institute Summer Conference and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Teacher Seminar, “The American Civil War Through Material Culture.”
About Robert Sibley Cooper
Robert Sibley Cooper, Jr. (June 16, 1937 – July 22, 2007) was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and grew up in Louisiana and Arkansas. As a small boy during World War II, he became fascinated by war. His youthful interest was stoked by an elderly, childless aunt who began to pass her Civil War books along to him. He developed a passion for American history that would span a lifetime and had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Civil War. He considered July 4, 1863 (the day after the Battle of Gettysburg), the saddest day in American history because of the tragic loss of life and human potential.
Robert Cooper, an avid student at every stage of his life, was blessed with a keen intellect and an exceptional memory. He earned a B.A. in History from Centenary College and an LL.B. from the Louisiana State University School of Law. He had an outstanding academic record, earning several awards and prizes, while completing seven years of course work in five and a half years. He contributed articles to the Louisiana Law Review and was inducted into the national legal fraternity, the Order of the Coif, before entering into the practice of law in 1961. Over the years, he earned a deserved reputation as an experienced, thorough, and tenacious litigator and was inducted into the L.S.U. Law School Hall of Fame in 1987.
Robert Cooper had a brilliant mind and a kind heart. In 1987, at the age of 49, he moved from his native state of Louisiana to an 18th century house in rural Tidewater Virginia; and, by 1992, had fully retired from the practice of law. He happily lived out the remainder of his life with his wife Ann, immersed in shared interests in history, architecture, and decorative arts. He especially enjoyed having time to continue his study of the Civil War and visit battlefields.
About Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson graduated from Gettysburg College in May 2014 with majors in History and Business. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Brian excelled academically during his time at Gettysburg, earning both the Jeffrey Pierce Memorial Award and the Franklin Moore Award. During his undergraduate years, Brian served as a Resident Assistant and an Admissions Tour Guide, and interned at two Smithsonian museums, the National Museum of American History and the National Portrait Gallery. He also served as a CWI Fellow and completed two internships under the auspices of the Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program.
Brian has recently accepted an Americorps position as a Completion Coach at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio. In this position, which he will begin in August, Brian will assist students in creating and adhering to a “completion plan” that will keep them on track to graduate from their specific degree program. He will continue his involvement with Gettysburg College as a member of the ‘Burgians of the Last Decade (BOLD) Council.
The centennial observance of World War I kicked off this summer with the contested commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. CWI assistant director Ian Isherwood '00, a British historian and scholar of the First World War, recently authored a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer challenging Americans to use the anniversary to grapple with the effects of a conflict that fundamentally shaped the 20th-century world and reshaped this nation's relationship with the world outside its borders. Read Isherwood's piece in its entirety here.
On March 31, the 2014 Brian C. Pohanka Interns were offered a taste of the exciting work they'll be doing this summer at National Park Service sites and private museums. The interns joined Gettysburg National Military Park ranger (and Gettysburg College alumnus) Christopher Gwinn '06 for a special interpretive program at Barlow's Knoll. Gwinn's program, which used the experiences of the XI Corps troops on July 1, 1863 to explore themes of failure and resilience, was designed to offer students an introduction to the principles of interpretation. After hiking Barlow's Knoll and exploring the XI Corps monuments, students returned to campus to go "under the hood" of the tour with Gwinn and CWI staff members Peter Carmichael, Jill Ogline Titus, and Allison Jordan -- all former NPS interpreters. Over dinner, the group explored pacing, thematic development, interpretive questions, site-specific content, techniques for engaging visitors, and the challenges and opportunities of helping audiences to think historically. By the end of May, eighteen Gettysburg College students will be in the field as Pohanka Interns. Read more about the Brian C. Pohanka Internship Program.
Two Civil War Institute fellows, Brianna Kirk '15 and Sarah Johnson '15, were recently named 2014 Mellon Summer Scholars. The prestigious grants will help fund a summer of archival research and writing in collaboration with their respective faculty mentors, Brian Jordan '09 and Ian Isherwood '00.
Jeff Davis, a Sour Apple Tree, and Treason: Fear in the Post-Civil War North
Brianna Kirk '15
The end of the Civil War raised many questions, and one of the thorniest was how to piece the Union back together. After such an unprecedented war, the exact course of how to survive Reconstruction was unknown. Furthermore, the question of what to do with Jefferson Davis, leader of the Confederate rebellion, lingered. While many Union veterans dreamt of "hanging Jeff Davis from a sour apple tree," Northern civilians recoiled in fear, quickly embracing sectional reconciliation and dropping all charges of treason. What would such a high profile trial and execution say about a democracy staggering away from the battlefields of war? Would it destroy the tentative peace, thereby complicating Reconstruction? My project will examine this fear in the immediate post-war period and work to explain why Northerners were so eager to spare Davis from the gallows and forget the four bloody years of war.
Gettysburg & the Great War
Sarah Johnson '15
My research this summer will use the town of Gettysburg as a case study of an average American community at the dawn of the twentieth century and its relationship to the Great War. Dismissed as the tragic and futile Forgotten War, the Unknown Soldier and vague references to red poppies on Veterans Day are not enough to understand a war which laid the foundations for America in the twentieth century. By taking a town like Gettysburg, already so famously and intimately acquainted with war, and drawing out reactions and responses to the Great War, I intend to utilize Gettysburg not only for its unique relationship to war, but also as a snapshot of an American small town at the turn of the century.
Recent Gettysburg College graduate Hannah Grose '13 recently turned her senior capstone project into the Gettysburg Battlefield Community Garden at the Sherfy Farm. After months of coordinating multiple partners -- including the Gettysburg Foundation, National Park Service, the Civil War Institute, and the Center for Public Service -- and researching historic gardens, Grose and a team of volunteers began planing the day after graduation this past May. "When I was choosing a capstone project, I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact," Grose explained. "I don't know when the line was crossed that this project stopped being about the class and became more about the garden. When I graduated, it was no longer for a grade. It became my job."
The Gettysburg Battlefield Community Garden, however, is more than just a living history project (as all produce grown there is consistent with the Civil War Era); everything grown in the garden is donated to Campus Kitchens, which uses fresh produce to make food for lower income households.
Learn more about Hannah and her work bringing the Sherfy Farm garden back to life.
In January 2013, CWI Associate Director Jill Ogline Titus will serve as the faculty advisor for a Center for Public Service-sponsored Immersion Trip to Alabama. Over the course of this nine-day trip, Dr. Titus and seven Gettysburg College students will visit some of the sites that played a central role in the 20th-century black freedom struggle: Birmingham's 16th Street Baptist Church, Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the small towns of Lowndes County, home of the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. In addition to exploring the history of civil rights, the group will participate in service projects, spend several nights with host families, and delve into the relationship between the triumphs of the movement and contemporary civil rights issues, including immigration policy, voting rights, economic injustice, and educational policy.
Sponsored by Gettysburg College's Center for Public Service, Immersion Projects offer off-campus, educational service opportunities at sites in the United States and abroad. Students travel to a site where they work and serve in a community different from their own. Each project seeks to foster a dialogue between the College community and the host community around issues of social justice. By working alongside people and sharing their stories, students learn about themselves and the world. For more information about CPS Immersion Trips, please visit the Center for Public Service.