Thursday, July 21, 2011

Upcoming W&M Alumni Magazine Article!

I am excited to announce that I will be writing an article for the William and Mary Alumni Magazine about the Civil War service of the College's students, faculty, and alumni. The article is part of a three-part series that explores William and Mary's role in the Civil War. My article (part two of the series) will be released in the magazine's Fall 2011 issue. The Summer 2011 issue (cover shown here) examines what happened on the William and Mary campus before and during the conflict. The text and photography are both very well done and I recommend the piece highly to those who are interested in the topic.

Examinding the role of William and Mary's people during the Civil War is a subject near and dear to my heart. I have spent several years researching the topic and wrote my master's thesis about it when I was a graduate student at the University of Richmond. What fascinates me most is that despite William and Mary's rich Civil War history, the topic is very little known, even to William and Mary alumni. My sense is that there are possibly two reasons for this. First, the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in the 1920s immersed the community (including the College) deeply in its colonial history. In the opinion of many, that leaves little room to interpret other periods of the community's history, including the Civil War era.

Second, since the Civil War was such a dark time in the College's history (considering all of its physical, emotional, and financial destruction), perhaps people purposely wanted to forget about it. People tend to prefer remembering the "good times," which could also explain the focus on Williamsburg's colonial history (when the College and town were both in their prime).

Whatever the reason, the time has come to better remember and commemorate William and Mary's Civil War history. As the South's oldest college, William and Mary produced several people who played instrumental roles in shaping the course of the Civil War. I hope that my upcoming article can help facilitate interest in the topic. Within the next few months, I also hope to make a big announcement about an ongoing project related to this topic, so stay tuned!