I propose to create blog and podcast to commemorate the ostensible end of the American Civil War in the month of April, 1865. This site will provide text, photos, and audio (maybe video?) to succinctly tell the story of the end of the war. (Above is a working title, below is a photo from Richmond in April, 1865.)
Major events to be covered will include:
- April 2nd, The Fall of Richmond
- April 9th, Appomattox Court House
- April 14th, The Assassination of Lincoln
- April 26th, The Death of Booth
In addition to that those featured dates, I will also create a page of “Annotated Enumerations” that will cite significant numbers associated with the war (e.g. numbers of dead, numbers of resulting Constitutional Amendments, number of total battles, numbers of people emancipated, numbers of books written about Lincoln and/or the Civil War, weather stats for DC, interesting parallels in dates/time, etc.) So, I’m looking at 5 to 6 blog entries over the course of the month, some of which will have a brief podcast associated with it–if not all, I am still assessing pricing and practicality.
The audience for Civil War history is ridiculously vast. How will my blog/podcast be different from what already exist? Mine will only focus on April 1865 and will be mainly overview punctuated with vivid descriptions and depictions of events and letters. My intended audience will be high school students as well as life-long learners. I will attempt to distill many facts and aspects into a punchy and pithy presentation that stays passionate and informative. (Definitely aspiring to Crash Course delivery and factual presentation.)
I will also attempt to plug my site into already existing sites that are public history related (or at least link to them and hit them up via social media) and I have a couple friends who could give me an assist on the web, and in particular social media. I will evaluate the site by keeping track of site visits and links, retweets, etc. via Google Analytics. Sites that are somewhat similar, or will be source material, include:
- Ford’s Theatre: This site provides primary source material, videos, and more about Lincoln’s legacy and the art inspired by the 16th President
- Civil War Trust: Dedicated to preserving Civil War battlefields, this site also offers extensive history and maps, including profiling Lincoln
- New York Times, Disunion Blog: Disunion revisits and reconsiders America’s most perilous period — using contemporary accounts, diaries, images and historical assessments to follow the Civil War as it unfolded.
- National Archives: One of the best sites for perusing and procuring photographs from the period
- Smithsonian 150: The Smithsonian offers the angle of “We Were There” and highlights collections from many of the institution’s museums
- David Blight’s Civil War history sessions at Yale: Watch actual class lectures from one of the nation’s leading scholars
- Podcasts: There are lots.
- Some maintained by academic historians, like The Civil War at 150 by the Organization of American Historians
- Some are maintained by amateur historians, like The Civil War (1861-1865): A History Podcast. Kinda dry but very chronologically extensive.
- The Civil War Podcast: amateur and Canadian, but more media savvy and has a quote of the day feature
- Civil War 150 Multimedia: Created by the Gilder Lehrman Institute, it includes many podcast videos
- Books: Manhunt by James L. Swanson, Richmond Burning by Nelson Lankford, and Everyday Life During the Civil War by Michael J. Varhola
One Reply to “April is the Cruellest Month: Ending the Civil War in 1865”
The blog/podcast idea is a great way to go. I like that you specifically targeted 5-6 posts or episodes. That makes it very clear what the scope of this is going to be for the class. No doubt you’ve got a compelling topic, and I think there is a lot of space in this area to do good work.
If you do go the podcast route, I would encourage you to start experimenting with audio recording sooner rather than later. At this point, there are a lot of good tutorials on how to do this with free and open source software. My biggest suggestion in this area would be to suggest considering getting a USB microphone and to play around with some of the free licensed music (from places like jamendo) that you can use to try and bump up the production values.
It’s great to see you’ve identified a bunch of places that might push out or help promote the project.
Using Google Analytics is a good idea for tracking site usage. The other evaluation bit I’d suggest would be to try and pick a few folks who are experts on the topics you write on and see if they would 1) be game to look over your scripts and offer input (formative evaluation) and 2) if they would be game to review the final products (summative evaluation).