Working under the direction of CWI Associate Director Dr. Ashley Whitehead Luskey, CWI’s Student Fellows had a tremendously successful Spring 2022 semester of researching, writing, and interpreting, using the battlefield and Gettysburg’s commemorative landscape as the subject for much of their work. Cole Froelich ’22 completed a fascinating new profile for the Killed at Gettysburg digital history project on German immigrant, Adolphus Wagner who fought with the famed, yet often maligned Garibaldi Guards of the 39th New York at Gettysburg. Cole’s profile of Wagner delves deeply into the complicated politics, ethnic tensions, and leadership crises within this unit that shaped its wartime experiences, as well as the international context of the long Civil War era and the impact of global events on immigrant Civil War soldiers such as Wagner who were willing to give all for their adoptive new country.
Other Fellows contributed numerous new, originally researched profiles for our Civilians at Gettysburg series on The Gettysburg Compiler blog, chronicling the battle’s impact on myriad sectors of the civilian community, including local African Americans, a female teacher, and both town and farm families whose post-war fortunes varied dramatically. Still other Fellows were busy adding new QGIS maps and analytical map reports to our State of the Confederacy: Confederate monument mapping project, including reports for Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. A small group of Fellows also took to the battlefield and historic town to produce short “spot interpretation” videos at various sites of their choosing that used site-specific vignettes to touch on broader interpretive themes in the Civil War era, while other Fellows conducted conference-teaser interviews with our June CWI conference faculty, as well as short interpretive “spots” highlighting various conference sessions. In two brand new Fellows projects, Emily Jumba ’24 created a 2-part mini-series interpreting and demonstrating various genres of Civil War music on the violin, while two other student Fellows spent the semester populating a new database with annotations of various war-time newspapers’ contrasting interpretations and portrayals of the Battle of Gettysburg. Lauren Letizia ’23 also added to The Gettysburg Compiler's blog content with a four-part series of originally researched blog pieces comparing and contrasting the work of lesser-known Civil War photographers and interpreting their photos within the broader cultural history of the nineteenth century.
The Fellows, joined by students from the First Year Experience Program, also participated in numerous Zoom discussions with practicing public historians from the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Civil War Trails, and Reconstruction Era National Historical Park through which they were able to learn about some of the various sub-fields within public history and ask questions about working within the profession. The Fellows and First Years also participated in several field experiences with Dr. Luskey, learning about and discussing cultural narratives and perceptions of surrender at Gettysburg, the intersection between farm families, soldiers, and medical care in the wake of the battle, and more. Additionally, Dr. Luskey also facilitated two highly interactive, interpretive workshops for the Fellows and First Years: a primary source interrogation of conflicting accounts of the 1863 Richmond Bread Riots, and an historical simulation centered around the July, 1863 New York City Draft Riots. It was a busy semester, and the students worked hard to produce their new projects, but great fun was had by all!