New Webcast Series on Civil War – AMU and Weider History Group

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AMU Civil War Webcasts

The American Military University (AMU) and the Weider History Group will be presenting a series of live webcasts on the Civil War that look promising. I’m excited to see this line up and think it a terrific educational venue made accessible to anyone. Here’s a quick run down. Oh and HEADS UP! The first webinar is tomorrow so be sure to register! The last one was terrific.

Civil War Soldier

The Common Soldier of the Civil War – Live Webcast
Tuesday, April 20, 2010 – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET

There is a renewed and growing interest in the common soldier of the Civil War. From battling in muddy trenches to charging through fields of enemy fire, the common soldier also combated the equally-deadly diseases that plagued the theater of war. But what motivated him to fight? This live webcast will bring light to what it must have been like for these men to “see the elephant” and how they spent their time both on active campaigning and winter camp.

The Battle of Shiloh – Live Webcast
Thursday, May 6, 2010 – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET

Could a decisive victory at Shiloh have changed the outcome of the war? This webcast will highlight the importance of the Battle of Shiloh and the effect it had on the outcome of the Civil War. Our speakers will also discuss what would have happened in case of a decisive Confederate victory at Shiloh.

The Battle of Gettysburg – Live Webcast
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 – 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET

How important is the Battle of Gettysburg to the study, discussion and portrayal of the Civil War today? How do historians interpret a single battle that changed the way Lincoln viewed the Civil War? This live webcast event will bring to light aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg ranging from the importance of the battle, to our memory of the Civil War, to how the battle is still being fought as Americans debate various interpretations of the battlefield.

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"Darwin's Legacy" on Academic Earth – The 19th Century Milieu

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Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

I find endlessly fascinating the global milieu of the 19th century.  Academic Earth has recently made available an absolutely superb ten lecture course, Darwin’s Legacy. This was a special course organized by Stanford University. Its glue is Dr. William H. Durham, Bing Professor of Anthropological Studies Stanford University.

Much is shared by the outstanding group of lecturers (some of the world’s top scholars representing multiple disciplines) in this course about the world of middle 1800′s. Recall that Charles Darwin’s most famous work was published as America was on the verge of Civil War.

  • 1859 On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is published in London, Nov. 24 by John Murray.
  • 1860 Publishes 2nd edition of Origin. Foreign editions appear. Begins work on Variation book.
  • 1861 Continued work on Variation book. Published 3rd edition of Origin. Began work on Orchid book.

You can find his complete works online at the delightful British site, The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online.

Course Description

“Light will be thrown…” With these modest words, Charles Darwin launched a sweeping new theory of life in his epic book, On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory opened eyes and minds around the world to a radical new understanding of the flora and fauna of the planet. Here, Darwin showed for the first time that no supernatural processes are necessary to explain the profusion of living beings on earth, that all organisms past and present are related in a historical branching pattern of descent, and that human beings fall into place quite naturally in the web of all life.

Now, 150 years later and 200 years after Darwins birth, we celebrate the amazingly productive vision and reach of his theory. In this Fall Quarter course, we will meet weekly with leading Darwin scholars from around the country to learn about Darwin’s far-reaching legacy in fields as diverse as anthropology, religion, medicine, psychology, philosophy, literature, and biology.

Yale's David W. Blight Lectures on the Civil War Era Online at Academic Earth

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davidblight2

A friend tipped me off on Friday to a EXCEPTIONAL site, AcademicEarth.org, which provides free audio-visual lecture series of some of the world’s best scholars.

David W. Blight’s entire Spring 2008 term course, The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877, is online for free viewing. Professor Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of History at Yale University and Director of the The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, also at Yale University.

In addition to the course, presented in an extremely user friendly format, Academic Earth provides a syllabus, reading list (yes I’ve already ordered them all), and full text transcripts of all lectures. GOLD MINE.

I’ve made it through 13 of 27 lectures and they are both outstanding and mesmerizing. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

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Fantastic Site – George Mason's Center for History and New Media

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Today I discovered a remarkable site, George Mason University’s Center for History and New Media which you can access here. It’s really about exploring history using digital media. It has three broad sections.

  1. Teaching + Learning
  2. Research + Tools
  3. Collecting + Exhibiting

Not only do I like the site’s premise but it makes available some outstanding tools including Zotero which I downloaded and began using today. It is an extension to Firefox designed “to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources.” It was very easy to install and is free.

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Another find linked to the site is the “Papers of the War Department 1784-1800.”

On the night of November 8, 1800, fire devastated the United States War Office, consuming the papers, records, and books stored there. Two weeks later, Secretary of War Samuel Dexter lamented in a letter that “All the papers in my office [have] been destroyed.” For the past two centuries, the official records of the War Department effectively began with Dexter’s letter. Papers of the War Department 1784-1800, an innovative digital editorial project, will change that by making some 55,000 long lost documents of the early War Department available online to scholars, students, and the general public. By providing free and open access to these previously unavailable documents, Papers of the War Department 1784-1800 will offer a unique window into a time when there was no law beyond the Constitution, when the federal government hardly existed outside of the Army and Navy, and when a new nation struggled to define itself at home and abroad.

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The CHNM site is well worth a visit and some serious exploration for historians and students alike.  I’ll be adding to my links. Highly Recommend.

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American Historian: George Bancroft

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I’m back from Christmas break and trying to recuperate from a few too many cinnamon rolls. Reading assignments and preparation of a research proposal due Sunday are top of mind.

The class is Historiography so the research isn’t to be about the development and proof of a thesis. It’s more about research into the history of how history was written.

George Bancroft in Old AgeFor my research paper, I plan to explore the influence of historian George Bancroft (right) on Antebellum, Civil War, and Postbellum American history. I may need to shave this down a bit depending on how much material I find.

Bancroft was one of the best known American historians of the 19thcentury. While Harvard educated (he entered at 13 and graduated at 17!), he is considered a “literary historian,” who wrote in a style popular with A History of the United States Bancroftthe public. His primary work was the multi-volume History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent, which he began writing in 1830. [Picture left of remaining vHe published the first three volumes over that decade. The final set would be ten volumes. A first revision was completed and published as six volumes in 1876 as part of the national centennial.

Perhaps less known is that Bancroft, while Secretary of the Navy, created the Naval Academy. He was also chosen by Congress to eulogize Abraham Lincoln. The New York Times reprinted that Eulogy on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the event in 1915. It, along with drawings of the event, can be seen in their entirety here.

I have located the index to his papers housed on microfiche at Cornell University and two biographies which leverage that material. The first, a two volume set 1971 reprint of M.A. DeWolfe Howe’s 1908 work The Life and Letters of George Bancroft I was able to find on the Amazon Marketplace in almost pristine shape. The second, George Bancroft: Brahmin Rebel, was written by Russel B. Nye and published in 1945. It’s on order. There are other large collections of Bancroft materials in holdings by the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. I’m beginning in earnest a search for articles that deal with his contributions to American history as well.

As a follow-up at some later point, I think it would be very interesting to contrast the style and impact Bancroft Portraitof George Bancroft with Charles and Mary Beard. As a historian friend of mine said, “you’d be hard pressed to find two more different expositors on the American experience than Bancroft and Beard. Bancroft was an unabashed patriot and advocate of democracy, to a degree that would be considered embarrassing in most academic settings today. Still, he was indeed the most articulate and widely-read of our early historians, and his writings both reflected and helped to create the sense of American exceptionalism that has prevailed for most of our history as a nation.”

You might recall that Charles and Mary Beard were the first to suggest that the Civil War was the second American revolution as was mentioned in my previous post here.

The exceptional oil on canvas portrait above of Bancroft in later life was painted by Gustav Richter, a German painter (1823 – 1884). It is a part of the Harvard University Portrait Collection and is on display at Memorial Hall.

More as I get into my research.

Photo credits:
Photo of George Bancroft in middle age taken by Mathew Brady, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Photo of painting above: The President and Fellows of Harvard College.

 

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Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency

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I found an interesting site with primary resources over the weekend on the unusual topic of Confederate currency and their images of slavery. The Louisiana State University’s United States Civil War Center Civil War Collections & the Civil War Book Review presents in an online exhibit, Beyond Face Value: Depictions of Slavery in Confederate Currency.

Beyond Face Value

Scholars working on the project included: John M. Coski, Evaluator, historian and library director at The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia; Jules d’Hemecourt, Principal Scholar, who teaches at Louisiana State University in the Manship School of Mass Communication;Harold Holzer, Guest Scholar and Vice President for Communications at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Henry N. McCarl, Guest Scholar, is a Professor of Economics in the School of Business at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Also contributing were: Vic Erwin, Web Designer, Sylvia Frank, Exhibit Editor, andLeah Wood Jewett, Project Director.

The Civil War Center at Louisana State University includes a number of print resources including a large collection of Civil War related books. All online collections can be found at http://www.cwc.lsu.edu/exhibitions.html. These include Civil War Book Review, also available at http://civilwarbookreview.com, which provides critical review of contemporary books on the Civil War.

The site is a real gem.