Advance, research!

This week I read an article called “Graves, Worms, and Epitaphs: Confederate Monuments in the Southern Landscape” by J. Michael Martinez and Robert M. Harris in the volume Confederate Symbols in the Contemporary South, edited by Martinez, William D. Richardson, and Ron McNinch-Su (2000). This gave me some good ideas about methodology for my project. The article gives a good overview of the different periods of monument building in the South—commemoration of the dead after the war, memorial markers on battlefields, and public monuments such as the soldiers found in front of courthouses across the region. This article goes on to talk about modern controversies over Confederate monuments. This article uses a lot of secondary sources and also some quantitative data, such as charts of monument construction dates and types. Coverage of controversies from contemporary newspapers adds to the argument that Confederate monuments still play a major role in memory of the Civil War. I think using a similar source base, plus the speeches and dedications of monuments, could help my project—if I can uncover controversies (or a dearth of controversy) during the WWI period, I would be able to get a fuller view of the subject. Seeing how organizations like the UDC navigated possible controversies would be interesting.

I also read The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, edited by Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan (2000) and What Reconstruction Meant: Historical Memory in the American South, by Bruce E. Baker (2007). The first book is an edited volume of essays dealing with various topics on the Lost Cause and southern memory. The introduction and conclusion support much of the scholarship I have already seen on these issues. Nolan gives a succinct overview of the “myth” of the lost cause and Lloyd A. Hunter rounds out the volume with another treatment of the Lost Cause and religion, much like Charles Wilson Reagan’s work. The essays also provide a good historiography of the subject. What Reconstruction Meant seems like it will be helpful as well. Baker’s book is about South Carolina specifically, but much of his method and theory can be applied to Virginia. He writes about public commemorations as part of his treatment of the memory of Reconstruction in the South, and brings the timeline of his work up through the late twentieth century. Since his book is mostly about memory and overlaps with my time frame, I am glad Dr. Quigley recommended it for me.

I also started looking at some primary documents at Virginia Tech’s Special Collections, and at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Some papers in Tech’s collections from the local chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy yielded a possibly helpful pamphlet of the Virginia Division UDC history, which discussed some of the war work undertaken by the Daughters during WWI. In Richmond, I looked mostly at the executive papers of Governor Henry Carter Stuart, who served as governor of Virginia from 1914-1918. He was one of the speakers at the Gettysburg monument ceremony (see my blog post of 22 February), so there were a lot of letters and documents pertaining to that event in the collection. I also found documents related to a proposed Joseph E. Johnston at Vicksburg, the 1915-1917 confederate veterans’ reunions, and several letters from other state governors to Stuart that talked about these events and show some of the reconciliation feeling prevalent at the time. I also looked at a broadside and program from the dedication of the Hanover, VA Confederate monument, which took place in August 1914. I was not able to find any speeches yet, but now I know who spoke so I can search by name to see if I can find out what was said. I was not able to make it to the UDC archives in Richmond yet, but I have been in contact with the librarian there so I will definitely go back in summer.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Advance, research!

Leave a Reply