I’m pleased to announce that the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded me a Landmarks of American History & Culture: Workshop for School Teachers Grant for 2015-2016. The description of the project, “Graffiti Houses,” reads:
This workshop invites teachers to explore the Civil War through the lives of individual Civil War soldiers who left their mark in three “graffiti houses” in Northern Virgina-Historic Blenheim, Ben Lomond and the Graffiti House at Brandy Station. Workshop participants will select an item of graffiti from these locations and piece together the story of the individual who created it. They will research their soldier’s service and postwar life in National Archives, and visit the Gettysburg National Military Park to examine the monuments and markers that commemorate the common soldier. Upon completing the workshop, teachers will have knowledge of how to use the history of ordinary individuals to personalize the social and cultural history of the Civil War, and make it powerful to students. Telling their soldier’s story in an online exhibit will also provide the opportunity to learn how to identify and use the new digital resources and tools that are transforming how historians work.
The project is an outgrowth of the assignment that has the center piece of my HIST 390 classes at George Mason University, in which undergraduate students work with service and pension records gathered by staff and volunteers at Historic Blenheim. Neither project would have been possible without the generosity of Andrea Loewenwarter, a historic resources specialist at Historic Blenheim, who allowed me to photograph the material she and her collaborators had gathered, and has provided numerous students with the opportunity to photograph the graffiti left by the solider they were researching.