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?
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.
We use the term “tentative” because we know your topic may change as you do your research.
Archives and Project Resources
- MSU Library Course Guide, HST 304 (http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/HST304H_Summerhill)
- MSU Archives: Civil War Collection (http://civilwar.archives.msu.edu/)
- MSU Library Historical Newspapers (http://infoweb.newsbank.com.proxy2.cl.msu.edu/)
- Library of Congress: US Civil War — Selected Resources (http://www.loc.gov/rr/main/uscw_rec_links/civilwarlinks.html)
- National Archives Research in Military Records: Civil War (http://www.archives.gov/research/military/civil-war/index.html)
- University of Iowa: Civil War Letters & Diaries (http://digital.lib.uiowa.edu/cwd/) (you can help transcribe works)
- DPLA and United States Civil War (http://dp.la/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=united+states+civil+war) (check out DPLA Top 10 Mustachioed Men of the Civil War)
- PBS Civil War (http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/war/links.html)
- Civil War Trust (http://www.civilwar.org/)
- The Civil War Center (http://www.kennesaw.edu/civilwarera/)
- Virginia Tech: American Civil War Manuscript Guides (http://spec.lib.vt.edu/civwar/)
- National Park Service Civil War Website
- Civil War Trust: Civil War Primary Sources
- Virginia Military Institute: Civil War Resources
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Civil War Resources
- United States Civil War
- Gilder Lehrmam: Civil War 150 Resources
- The Valley of the Shadow
- The Civil War in Art
- A Sampler of Civil War Literature
- A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln
- Poetry and Music
- Civil War Women: Women and the Home Front
- Civil War: Letters and Diaries
- Atlantic Monthly
- The Civil War Photography Center
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 />