12 January 2016

So Who Can Call Themselves a Civil War Historian?

Author and public historian, Gary Aldeman weighs in from the Civil War Trust . . .

But there is a 3rd way, as I posted in the comments section of the video . . .
While both of those [mentioned in the video] are equally legitimate (I see successful public historians being every bit as credible as academic ones), there is actually a 3rd way to become a historian. Proven work.

For example, I can think of several historians who gained respect not from a degree in the field nor from working for a museum, park, etc, but simply by the books and scholarship they produced. For example, Shelby Foote and Bruce Catton; neither of whom completed college. Then there are others who hold degrees in fields other than history who have proven their worthiness as historians. I'm thinking of Kent Masterson Brown, Eric Wittenberg and Gordon Rhea. All are attorneys and respected Civil War historians. There are many other examples, but just wanted to throw in these few examples. 
And just to be clear and as I've stated on numerous occasions, I do not consider myself a historian, even though others may "perceive" me as such. Perhaps one day I'll have produced a sufficient volume of respected work to earn that title. But, for now, I'm quite happy just being a Southern author who writes about history.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was at a book store event in Fredericksburg and a couple of people came in who said they worked at the Battlefield Park service in Washington, D.C. So I asked the woman what she knew about Contrabands in Washington during the Civil War.

She said, "Oh, the Contrabands were at Fort Monroe."

So, let me get this straight:

Union forces occupy a given area.
Union forces set up camps all along the occupied areas of the Border States, East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Mississippi River.
Washington, D. C. is garrisoned by Union forces.
Refugee fugitive slaves flock to these camps, including those in the D.C. area.
Military and political officials debate what to do with all these refugees as described in the Official Records entitled, "Military Treatment of Captured and Fugitive Slaves."

So, I am thinking, in the middle of any given battle, everybody stops what they are doing, somebody blows a whistle, all the Contrabands run from the Confederate side over to the Union side; the supply wagon trains and boats are emptied; the Contrabands are loaded on; the elderly, women and children follow along; the white folks stay behind and bury the dead, and
Bingo - - the Contrabands all are zapped over to Hampton Roads ???

From the coastal regions of NC, SC, Georgia, FL, Alabama, LA, Mississippi, Martinsburg WV and Washington, D.C. - - they all just magically go to Fort Monroe in Hampton.

The Contrabands were at Fort Monroe - - -

From my limited experience, I didn't find this woman's comment to be typical of Park personnel.