Assignment 3

Project Proposal

For our primary research project, we are going to do historical thinking by beginning with an historical object and then placing that object within the local and larger context of the Civil War.  We are using the term “historical object” rather loosely.  The object may be a diary, a page from a diary, an image from the period, a newspaper article from the period, and so on.  Or the object may be a relative — was your family involved in or impacted by the Civil War?

You may begin with any object from the Civil War —e.g., a diary, an image, a newspaper article, a piece of technology, a song, your own family — and then see how it fits into the local and the larger context of the war.  That is you can start with what interests you — personal writing, journalism, technology, music, media, family history, fiction, poetry  — and look at it through the context of the Civil War.

Or you may stumble on something of interest while exploring.  For example, you might find the following illustration by Thomas Nast.  This could take you in many different directions.  Any could make for a great final project.

1) You might explore what are the significance of the different images in the illustration?

2) How did Thomas Nast “participate” in the Civil War with his cartoons and illustrations?

3) What was the reaction to emancipation in the press and magazines in 1863?

4) How is “race” illustrated in a magazine like Harper’s or Atlantic Monthly?

Harper's Weekly, Jan 24, 1863 Clements Library, University of Michigan Permission must be received in advance, in writing, from the Director of the Clements before publication, duplication, or other use of this image.
Harper’s Weekly, Jan 24, 1863

Take time and explore the primary sources below (although you are not limited to these).  You may end up focusing on fashion or you may get caught up in a report on “The Sanitary Condition of the Army“that takes you into camp life for the average soldier.   Or a poem, “The True Herione,” about a mother sending her children off to war, may lead you to research life on the home front or Civil War poetry.  You may want to go back to Assignment 2 and follow up your research on slavery and the oral histories.

For the project proposal, we want to think back to our work on Assignment 2 and slavery and as part of the proposal we want to capture

1) all the things we “think” we know about the object,

2) what we need to find out,

3) possible research paths or sources,

4)  state a tentative topic/focus for your final project.  

You will post your proposal as a blog post on our class site and in Google doc for the class (Sunday, 06/04/2017).  Important: don’t hesitate to consult your instructors. The length should be 175-250 words.

We use the term “tentative” because we know your topic may change as you do your research.

Archives and Project Resources


1) Post as a blog post on our class web site (175-250 words)

2) Post in Google doc under assignment 3

3) Include or link to object.

4) Write up what you think you know

5) Include possible research paths or sources

6) Include tentative final project topic/focus

7) Assignment is graded on a point scale [maximum points=5]


Image: Clements Library, University of Michigan<br />
Permission must be received in advance, in writing, from the Director of the Clements before publication, duplication, or other use of this image.<br />

One thought on “Assignment 3”

  1. Assignment 3

    For the research project I actually did get caught up into the “The Sanitary Conditions of the Army”. Towards the beginning of the Army we see a strict set of requirements to enlisting that range from age, height/weight standards, to overall health. From those standards we see a lot of people rejected from service. Fast forward to the beginning of the Civil War, there is a larger demand for soldiers so the regulations are relaxed a bit and people who wouldn’t have passed the fitness and regulatory inspections before, can now enlist. We saw the same lax in regulations during the initial invasion of Iraq. Prior ailments, criminal records, tattoos, height/weight discrepancies were overlooked or waivered to get more soldiers in. This change in standard led to increased battlefield illness as is recorded in “The Sanitary Conditions or the Army”. With more soldiers out of the fight, this weakened each fighting forces capabilities.

    The direction of this project is to determine how severe the lax in regulations affected each force’s fighting capabilities and whether or not it was determining factor in the outcome of the war. There are several things to consider such as, each forces’ climate that they were acclimated to, time of year, and to what degree were the regulations loosened.

    Link to the book:

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