I’d love to be a Civil War buff…what do you have to do to be a buff?

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 9.25.57 AMJerry Seinfeld? Keith Hernandez? What do they have to do with the Civil War? Well…in a very popular episode of Seinfeld – you know the one…where Jerry sort of gets a man-crush on Keith Hernandez…there is a little dialog between Jerry and George that comes close to my corner of the world. It goes like this:

JERRY: You know who that is? That’s Keith Hernandez.

GEORGE: Keith Hernandez? The baseball player?

JERRY: Yeah, that’s him.

GEORGE: Are you sure?

JERRY: Positive.

GEORGE: Wow, Keith Hernandez. He’s such a great player.

JERRY: Yeah, he’s a real smart guy too. He’s a Civil War buff.

GEORGE: I’d love to be a Civil War buff. … What do you have to do to be a buff?

JERRY: So Biff wants to be a buff? … Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day would be a start.

Yes…Jerry’s right about that. Being a buff is hard work. Among things like an encyclopedic knowledge of uniforms, accoutrements, and the various and sundry soldierly minutiae, it helps to know command (at least down to the regiment level) and of course…you need to know the battles cold. I have to say…I love it when popular culture and Civil War history intersect. It makes me smile. And  I’ll bet you a buck that book sales on the Civil War picked up a bit after this show aired back in 199something.

But Hernandez aside, lots of academics (not all, mind you, but lots) sort of look down on buffs. They think of them as all “drums and bugles” and no substance. They (some suggest) don’t delve into issues…they don’t read all the important scholarship…they dismiss complexity.

I say lighten up a little. Civil War buffs keep interest in this historical period alive. Buffs do buy books (including mine…YAY!), they watch TV shows about history and yes indeed…they (thankfully) follow my Tweets and comment on my Facebook posts.

I love buffs. Without them, I might not have an audience at all (or at least a much smaller one). So, Mr. Hernandez – I salute you and all like you who find the Civil War fascinating above all else. We are one and the same. If you ever want to talk – just hit me up. And not incidentally, this July 2-4, I’ll be in Gettysburg signing books and talking to buffs galore. I look forward to it 🙂

With compliments,

Keith (scholar/buff)

Gettysburg Sacred Trust

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 8.08.40 AMGreetings all!

This may be something of an early warning shot…but for those of you trying to figure out what to do with your time this summer – allow me to suggest a trip to Gettysburg…say in early July. For starters, you can check out the battlefield on the 152nd anniversary of the fight, which is sure to be a carnival-like affair. And, you can check out the Gettysburg Sacred Trust Talks and Book Signings, of which I am happily part. Yes, on July 3rd promptly at 7:00 PM, I will take the stage with some fine historians to discuss my book, Across the Bloody Chasm, and speak with the audience about the various ways veterans told their war stories. After that, we can shoot the shit while I sign your very own copy of my book. I promise to keep my contribution to this event as non-academic and non-conference like as possible. I find all of that esoteric nitwittery pretty close to useless anyway.

The event schedule has made me happy that I am sticking around for a few days to take in the sights – and get busy with some Civil War history.

I hope to see you there.

With compliments,

Keith

3-D Richmond Slave Trade

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 1.58.51 PMGreetings all – as someone who gets very excited at the prospect of connecting history with twenty-first century technology, I’ll just say that this 3-D animated MAP of Richmond from the University of Richmond Digital Scholarship Lab is worthy of several fist bumps. This super-cool map features narration, period buildings, and fly overs of the city. The crew who put this together are certainly deserving of all their accolades. Huzzah!

With compliments,

Keith

The Americanist Independent: Volume One in Review

President_George_WashingtonGreetings all!

Volume One of the open-access web journal, The Americanist Independent is officially in the books.

I am extraordinarily happy with how all eight issues turned out. What’s more, I am thrilled to have worked with a number of very talented teachers, students, and independent historians. We did a good thing, folks!

For those of you how have yet to subscribe (remember…it’s gratis) you can do so HERE and click on any of the tabs. I suggest you begin with Scholarship. Here’s what you’ll get:

 

Issue One:

Explorations in Visualizing the Irish of the American Civil War by Damian Shiels

The American Slave: A Database – An Examination of the Methodology and results of Digitizing the Slave Narrative Collection by Keith D. McCall

Those Gals Had it Easy: The Conspicuously Untroubled Lives of Boydton Virginia’s Reconstruction Belles by Samantha Upton

RockinThruHistory: Learning History One Song at a Time by Damien Drago

Issue Two:

Chasing After the Daughter of the Lost Cause by Heath Hardage Lee

The North Carolina Confederate Pensions, Past and Present by Aaron M. Cusick

The Civil War Institute Annual Conference at Gettysburg College: CWI2014 Reviewed.

Harristorian Archives: The Pennsylvania Report of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

Issue Three:

The Checkbook is an Autobiography: The Case of Henry Clay Folger (1857-1930) by Stephen H. Grant

The Letters and Writings of Bill Evans, World War II Aviator by Mike Rogers

Recreating the “Good War”: Pride and Pitfalls in WWII Reenacting by Jared Frederick

Controlling Atoms: Evaluating the AEC During the Eisenhower Years, 1952-1958 by Nick Lacasse

Issue Four:

Creating Veteran Identity for Women within the Veterans Administration by Amy Rebecca Jacobs

Selling Mr. Consumer: Forming Male Consumer Identity by Nick Lacasse

The Tide of Domesticity: A Study of Gender, Environment, and Florida’s  Indian River Culture –  1870 and 1890 by Dara R. Vance

Every Piece of This War is Man’s Bullshit: The Women of Cold Mountain, a Review Essay by M. Keith Harris

Issue Five:

California Gold, Privateering, and the Russian Navy: A Story of the American Civil War by Glenna Matthews

“When Cleverness and Knowledge Arise, Great Lies Will Flourish”: Civil War Soldiers and Calculated Manipulation on the Battlefield by Mary C. Roll

History in the Classroom and the Interactive Notebook: A Conversation with Luke Rosa by M. Keith Harris and Luke Rosa

“Not All They Resolved It To Be”: A Review of The Field of Lost Shoes by Robert Moore

Issue Six:

One Nation, One Flag, One Language: The Grand Army of the Republic and Patriotic Instruction in Indiana by Nicholas W. Sacco

The March of Freedom: African-Americans in the United States Military and their Affect on the Civil Rights Movement, 1880-1950 by Aaron Nathaniel Stockel

Military Race Riots During the Second World War by Elizabeth Lambert

Fury: A Historical Review by Micha Benjamin Flowers

Issue Seven:

Messengers of Uplift: Fisk University Student Resistance in 1925 by Dara R. Vance

Podcasts and History: Why More Historians and Public History Organizations Should Podcast by Elizabeth M. Covart

Civil War Military Historians are Freaking Out by Megan Kate Nelson

In Defense of Gallagher, Hess, and Meier by Kevin Levin

Issue Eight:

LBJ and the Electrification of the Texas Hill Country by Jena Fuller

Patriotic Profiteers: Lykens County Coal Company and the Civil War by Jake Wynn

The Siege of Milwaukee: The Cause and Effect of Anti-German Sentiment by Kevin Kolesari

And there you have it – if you are a new subscriber you clearly have a lot of reading to do! Volume Two, Issue One is in the works – and things are looking great…so stay tuned for summer!

With compliments,

Keith

The Americanist Independent