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Full-Text Articles in History

Born In Slavery: One Grave In Chambersburg, John M. Rudy May 2013

Born In Slavery: One Grave In Chambersburg, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A simple epitaph with amazing impact: "Born in Slavery, Died Feb 15 1908." Those words speak and speak loudly. Thomas Burl wanted it to be known for eternity that he was a slave. And he wanted it to be known that he wasn't when he died. That label defined his whole life. It defined who he was when he had the name "slave" forced on him when he was born. And it again defined him through its absence after 1863. [excerpt]


Fire On The Mountain: A Forest Fire Ignored?, John M. Rudy May 2013

Fire On The Mountain: A Forest Fire Ignored?, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

There was a massive forest fire on the South Mountain at the edge of Adams County. It ripped through thousands of acres of woodland along the crest of the ridge. The undergrowth went up like a match. The spring up to this point had been unusually dry. And a fire started. [excerpt]


Rewind: Good Morning To The Night, John M. Rudy May 2013

Rewind: Good Morning To The Night, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Today is a special day, a momentous day. It's a day I've thought about for a long time. A day for beginnings and a day for looking back. So I'm looking back for today's blog, to one of my favorite posts. It's simple and meaningful to me. It's about a place that has changed my life so much. And today the ripples from that place are changing it again. And it's wonderful. [excerpt]


Hearing His Voice: What Does "War" Have To Say?, John M. Rudy May 2013

Hearing His Voice: What Does "War" Have To Say?, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Lee is formulating his plan to move northward, to invade Federal territory once again and lean on the United States' popular will to fight. And War will see the fruits of that decision. He'll see it all. And we're still working to tell his tale, bit by bit. [excerpt]


From A Place Of Fear: Death, Slavery & Stonewall, John M. Rudy May 2013

From A Place Of Fear: Death, Slavery & Stonewall, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Earlier this spring, I sat in Gettysburg at the "Future of the Civil War" conference and listened to an intern talk about how he had been scared to interpret. He was afraid of his visitors, afraid to tell them about a place. [excerpt]


Thinking Of The Ending And Beginning Of A War, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Thinking Of The Ending And Beginning Of A War, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

My lecture in class this week focused on Reconstruction, the end of war and the continuing Civil War. So I've been thinking a lot about those final moments of the Civil War and the coming of the continued century worth of conflict. And that means this photo has been on my mind, the quintessential inversion of the rebel capital, as Lincoln is forever enshrined there, a constant reminder of how the war ended and how the war still continues with different means on different cultural fronts. [excerpt]


Building The War One Brick At A Time, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Building The War One Brick At A Time, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I've been waiting for this moment since 1996. Back then, when I was 11, My favorite toy came out with figures from my favorite era. The LEGO Western line was an amazing crossover of my love for history and my love for tiny ABS building blocks. [excerpt]


Big Interp: Processing Massive Meaning, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Big Interp: Processing Massive Meaning, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

There's been this term bandied about in the historical circles I've been running in of late: Big Data. As far as I've gathered, it's the byproduct of our information age, when more and more data gets fed into more and more machines and is accessible at the fingertips of more and more inquiring minds. [excerpt]


Dark Town's Wealth: A 150-Year-Old Rock-And-Roll Concert Review, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Dark Town's Wealth: A 150-Year-Old Rock-And-Roll Concert Review, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I have a lot of odd things scattered around my house, weird ephemera and bric-a-brac that I've picked up here and there as I've studied history.

Some of them are treasures, like CDVs of long-dead College professors and original pieces of decking from the USS North Carolina. Some are less treasures and more, well, junk. Most folks toss old newspapers within a few days of reading. In the Civil War Era, I'm sure many a page of newsprint went to start an honest mother's hearth in the morning or a pile of moist kindling in some ...


We're Not Important: Historian In An Operating Room, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

We're Not Important: Historian In An Operating Room, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Sometimes, historians (both public and academic) seem to have this oddly overblown sense of self-worth. I'll admit that I'm prone to this every so often. I'm wont to note that historic sites are temples of democracy, that interpreters ultimately are in the business of creating citizens and saving America and that in defining the past we find the present and chart the course for the future. [excerpt]


Wilmington: A World Turned Upside Down, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Wilmington: A World Turned Upside Down, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

There's an old myth that, as he ordered the flag brought down and the post at Yorktown surrendered, General Cornwallis ordered his fife and drum corps to play The World Turned Upside Down a traditional British Christmas song written in protest of the aristocracy outlawing raucous celebration. In its lyrics, the paupers are made kings and the kings made paupers. The song was more than likely not played during the surrender. But myths are often potent and always telling.


An Unexpected Hiatus And A Few Remarks, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

An Unexpected Hiatus And A Few Remarks, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

After a hiatus I've felt guilty about for days, I'm returning to the keyboard to rejoin the blogosphere. A bout of my own sickness and some family sickness kept me away from the keyboard. But I return, turning up once again like a bad penny. I've got plenty of things in the works, from Twitter to the New York Tribune, from the proto-Scott-Joplin to continuing my deep dives into Gettysburg's past. But for now, I wanted to take you inside the late, great Future of the Civil War conference held this weekend at Gettysburg College. My ...


Interpreting Different Cheesesteaks, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

Interpreting Different Cheesesteaks, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I wandered around Philadelphia last week on travel for work, which meant I had the opportunity to indulge in my favorite Philly pleasure. Besides Rocky, Comcast and Benjamin "Macho Man" Franklin, the City of Brotherly Love has given us all one other joyous invention: the cheesesteak.


Food, Fuel And Fodder: Civil War Carbon Footprints, John M. Rudy Feb 2013

Food, Fuel And Fodder: Civil War Carbon Footprints, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Thursday morning finds me presenting to a group of fellow NPS folks on the possibilities of the interpretive futures. So I've dragged out some older, weirder interpretive dreaming from a few years back. It's something I worked up for my friend and boss David Larsen to prove that topics like Climate Change can be discussed from any perspective and in any context. But this sort of dreaming can't stay locked in drawers, left on the backs of envelopes and stuffed away in digital filing cabinets back at work. So here's a peek at what I'm ...


Her Meaning, My Meaning, Our Meanings, John M. Rudy Feb 2013

Her Meaning, My Meaning, Our Meanings, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

One of the most special places in the world to me is that random collection of marble and skyscraper steel at the end of the National Mall known as the Lincoln Memorial. I've had so many amazing experiences there. They're small experiences, but they're amazing. Seeing America, us, walk through those columns and up at that man.[excerpt]


War Against Slavery Without A Black Soldier In Sight?, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

War Against Slavery Without A Black Soldier In Sight?, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I've been lying to people. OK, not exactly lying, just not telling the whole truth. One of my favorite lines to use when I worked in Washington at the Lincoln Cottage was that the, "most important part of the Emancipation Proclamation came near the end, where it says that black men, the former slaves, can serve in the army and navy, that they can fight for their very own freedom." [excerpt]


Out Of Sorts: Finding The Passion Behind The Article, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

Out Of Sorts: Finding The Passion Behind The Article, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The individual letters used to layout and print a newspaper in the 19th century were called sorts. Each letter was a sort. But the individual sorts that make up the words don't always give you the full story behind an article. They often aren't quite enough. [excerpt]


Old, Worn Bibles: What Did She Feel?, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

Old, Worn Bibles: What Did She Feel?, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A simple photo for today, taken back in September standing in the Dunker Church. A visitor, giddy and laughing, gets so close to the Dunker Bible standing inside of the footprint of the Dunker Church on the eve of the anniversary of battle. Why? What is it that made her so happy? [excerpt]


Sunrise With Lincoln And Meanings With Chuck, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

Sunrise With Lincoln And Meanings With Chuck, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I walked 150 years on Monday. I walked across a great chasm of history. Physically, I walked from the Arlington Cemetery Metro Station across Memorial Bridge, then continued down the National Mall to 4th Street, where I witnessed one of the most peculiar regularly scheduled celebrations that Americans observe: the Inauguration of the President. But along the way, I met the past alive on the landscape. I watched the sky turn from murky black into hopeful, bright pink and orange sitting alongside the savior of the nation. Lincoln and I watched as the early light of sunrise silhouetted the brightly-lit ...


On Larsen: Friends, Philosophers And Historians, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

On Larsen: Friends, Philosophers And Historians, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

It's been a melancholic week for me. My boss Katie's blog post on Tuesday set my mind spinning back to a friend we lost two years ago. When the Civil War Institute noticed some video footage of Larsen that's on YouTube, it only cemented those thoughts into my mind. The video started racing around the blagosphere, and the thoughts percolated. And the words used to describe Dave were daggers to my heart: "National Park Service historian." [excerpt]


Bells On Bobtail Ring: A Cold Day In Hell, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

Bells On Bobtail Ring: A Cold Day In Hell, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"Snow and sleighing," are, a correspondent in the Franklin Repository opined in January of 1864, "delightful words to the young, and foolish, and careless." Still, the elder correspondent was keen to, "thank time! we have outgrown such follies." [excerpt]


25425 & 20500: Zip Codes For A Revolution, John M. Rudy Jan 2013

25425 & 20500: Zip Codes For A Revolution, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I put on my coat and headed out the door today around lunchtime. My excuse was to grab a sandwich to munch on at my desk, but I was really hunting something very different. The Post Office is right along High Street down the block from work and Tuesday was the first day they've been open this year. [excerpt]


Two More Proclamations For A Special New Years Eve, John M. Rudy Dec 2012

Two More Proclamations For A Special New Years Eve, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

'In accordance, as I believe, with the will of our Heavenly Father, and by direction of your great and good friend, whose name you are all familiar with, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, on the 1st day of January, 1863, you will be declared "for ever free."' [excerpt]


Resolute On The Eve Of Emancipation, John M. Rudy Dec 2012

Resolute On The Eve Of Emancipation, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

In the eyes of William Lloyd Garrison, Abraham Lincoln stood waffling on the issue of slavery in the early days of December 1862. To be quite fair, in Garrison's eyes nearly anyone aside from William Lloyd Garrison stood waffling on the issue of slavery most of the time. [excerpt]


Kings And Princes: Christmas In Gettysburg, 1862, John M. Rudy Dec 2012

Kings And Princes: Christmas In Gettysburg, 1862, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

In a house along the first block of the north side of Chambersburg Street, a small metallic ticking noise signaled change. The calendar read December 24th, 1862. The rhythmic tapping was a voice, reaching out in code along thin strips of metal dangling from poles running to the east out of town. Soon, "Hanover, York, Harrisburg, and Baltimore," were sending their glad tidings to Gettysburg's citizens. Then soon, Gettysburg found herself on that Christmas Eve connected, "with all the world and the rest of mankind," the Adams Sentinel reported. In the home of John Scott along Chambersburg Street, the ...


Adventus: The Great Coming Of 1862, John M. Rudy Dec 2012

Adventus: The Great Coming Of 1862, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a weekend in Harpers Ferry helping to interpret that amazing place for the National Historical Park's annual Christmas 1864 event. One of the greatest joys of my desk job in interpretive training is getting back out into a parkscape to test out new ideas and practices. This time it gave me the chance to experiment out in the field, wearing the olde-timey clothes of the 1860s and discussing how hammers, anvils and black labor won the war through the U.S. Quartermasters Depot at Harpers Ferry. The event is amazingly fun and ...


In Response To Kevin: Truncated And Sliced, John M. Rudy Dec 2012

In Response To Kevin: Truncated And Sliced, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

There is not one program given on any Civil War battle landscape that cannot, somewhere in it's natural flow and using resource-specific elements and tangibles, discuss the cause and context of the war in a meaningful and thematically-integrated way. Period. Full Stop.

Furthermore and because of this, there is no reason or excuse not to cover the cause and context of the war in a meaningful, thematically-integrated and site-specific way in every personal services program in some manner or fashion. Period. Full Stop. [excerpt]


Spielberg's Dead Wrong About The Dead; Or, The Places In The Movie Where I Cried, John M. Rudy Nov 2012

Spielberg's Dead Wrong About The Dead; Or, The Places In The Movie Where I Cried, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I stood in front of the rostrum in the National Cemetery with my parents. They hadn't seen the movie yet. My best-friend was next to them. He hadn't seen it yet. Another compatriot joined us who had seen it, but we were definitely outnumbered in our little knot of folks within the massive crowd. As Spielberg continued speaking, I leaned in to the group. "You really need to see the movie," I said, knowing that no matter whose ears it hit the odds were it'd hit a meaningful target. [excerpt]


Living Fortress Of The Heart: Resonance Of Emancipation, John M. Rudy Nov 2012

Living Fortress Of The Heart: Resonance Of Emancipation, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Jacob dragged me somewhere again. I really should learn to say, "no," because no matter where I get dragged by Jake, it always ends up wrecking my brain for months and making me obsess about some amazingly minute interpretive experience. But I'm a glutton for interpretive punishment. [excerpt]


"With High Hope For The Future": Holy Temples Of Democracy, John M. Rudy Nov 2012

"With High Hope For The Future": Holy Temples Of Democracy, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I did it again. I went to Pennsylvania Historical Association's annual conference (this year in Harrisburg). I always seem to be the black sheep at these gathering, focused on raw emotional meanings and the usable past far more than the broader historiographical implications of either the proverbial or actual price of tea in China. This year I went to present a paper on the knock-down, dragout brawl that Daniel Sickles and William H. Tipton have throughout 1893 over the preservation of the Gettysburg Battlefield to a room full of professional historians. [excerpt]