For this week’s blog let us look to the American Civil War. This is probably one of the favorite topics for historical blogging by far. A Google search reveals a ridiculously impossible number of blogs. The search turns up 7 million hits for “Civil War Blogspot” alone. Obviously most of those are not individual blogs, but rather posts. Still, the numbers reveal a huge interest in the American Civil War when compared to the American Revolution which only turns up 2.85 million hits for Blogspot. The problem is that many of these blogs are shall we say less than informational. That of course depends on the quality of the information you want to see. This brings us to the quintessential problem of historical blogging. What is fact and what is fiction?
This does not apply just to historical blogs. It applies to the Internet and every website there is. In fact, I have to take time in my teaching history to students to explain how they can distinguish factual information on the Internet from garbage. Unfortunately there is a lot of garbage out there. The American Civil War attracts many of the garbage purveyors that like to believe in the mythistory of the Lost Cause and all the effluvia that accompanies it. Fortunately, there are some very good American Civil War blogs out there and Diffusion will bring them to your attention over time.
This week’s Blog of the Week covers Kevin Levin’s blog, “Civil War Memory.” This was one of the first blogs I encountered several years ago when I began to rediscover my love of history and sought out historians who were working online. Kevin began CWM on November 8, 2005 with his first post simply titled, “Welcome.” Over the next decade, CWM has grown and has a substantial audience. Many posters are regulars with some having their own blogs, many of which are concerned with the Civil War. Kevin’s work has grown beyond the boundaries of the blog and has been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, on C-SPAN, and on NPR. Any time Ta-Nehisi Coates gives your blog a shout out, you know you’re doing well.
|Civil War Memory's Front Art|
What I like about CWM is that it deals a lot with the concept of the memory of the Civil War. How have people past and present chosen to remember this conflict? Why do they disagree over the memory? That subject has been the focus on many long discussions on CWM. Kevin moderates the comments made on his forums which I agree with despite having been edited a few times. Moderated boards are almost a requirement for blogging and an absolute must for any quality blog.
CWM has been built on Wordpress and can be found at http://cwmemory.com/. There is a FaceBook page and Twitter feed for the site as well. The layout of the site has changed several times since I have been visiting it. The current layout is nicely done and easy to navigate. Wordpress forums are easy to register for and your profile can be used on any Wordpress site. There is a menu bar with several pages linked on it for Kevin’s CV, information on his book and on the Myth of Black Confederates, and speaking engagements. If I have any disagreements it is that he does not list other blogs or websites on as page. This is a feature which I think academic blogs should be incorporating somewhere in their work. In order for information to be exchanged and explored, the bloggers need to show the websites they use for information gleaned on the Internet. With so much bad history floating around out there, it is imperative that historians make people aware of websites that employ factually based history.
Kevin resides in Massachusetts where he is presently an instructor at a private school. He recently let it be known that he would be exiting this position at the end of the semester and entering into a different aspect of his career. In his own words, “In the fall I am teaching a research seminar at the American Antiquarian Society, working with Facing History (here in Boston) on unveiling a new curriculum on Reconstruction and finishing my book on the myth of black Confederate soldiers.” I for one wish him success in whatever he chooses to do. His first foray into the world of book publishing was Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder which was published in 2012.
I do not rate blogs as I feel that is entirely subjective and based on my individual likes and dislikes. Based on my comments regarding CWM, I think it goes without saying that I like the blog and its content. The information presented to its readers is some of the highest quality Civil War blogging on the Internet today. Kevin and his blog are highly respected in the Civil War community and that speaks volumes. So don’t just take my word for it, go visit the Civil War Memory and find out for yourselves!