Wednesday, September 25, 2013

News---Gardner Photo of Gettysburg Addess May Contain Lincoln, But Not The One You've Seen

I Found Real Abraham Lincoln! Armchair Historian Disputes 2007 Claim, Michael Sheridan, September 24, 2013.

Armchair historian disputes 2007 claim, says he's found the actual 16th President in famed Gettysburg Address photo. Assistant professor and animator Christopher Oakley, who is working with his students on a Virtural Lincoln Porject to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, claims his Lincoln is the correct one. He never believed the claim six years ago that focused on another person in the same Alexander Gardner photo.

They got the wrong man.
An animator and teacher at a North Carolina college says the man believed to be President Abraham Lincoln on horseback in a famed photo taken 150 years ago isn’t him. Instead, the slain 16th President is actually farther to the right. The “Where’s Waldo”-like discovery by Christopher Oakley, an assistant professor of new media at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, was revealed Tuesday. And his potentially historic find came completely by accident. “I was actually looking for William Seward,” Lincoln’s Secretary of State, the 51-year-old told the Daily News.

Oakley was studying the image as part of the university’s Virtual Lincoln Project, a computer animated, interactive 3D film that celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address in November. It was during an early morning examination in March of the image captured by famed photographer Alexander Gardner that he came across the man he immediately knew to be Abraham Lincoln.  “You ever have that feeling that you’re about to fall out of bed, and your heart is racing?” he said, describing how he felt the moment he saw that stovepipe hat.

Link to Full Text: New York Daily News September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

News----October 18 Release of 12 Years A Slave Film; the Book Has Its Own History

An Escape From Slavery, Now A Movie, Has Long Intrigued Historians, Michael Cieply, New York Times, September 22, 2013.
In the age of “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” questions about the accuracy of nonfiction films have become routine. With “12 Years a Slave,” based on a memoir published 160 years ago, the answers are anything but routine. Written by John Ridley and directed by Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave,” a leading contender for honors during the coming movie awards season, tells a story that was summarized in the 33-word title of its underlying material.
Published by Derby & Miller in 1853, the book was called Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853, From a Cotton Plantation Near the Red River, in Louisiana. The real Solomon Northup — and years of scholrly research attest to his reality — fought an unsuccessful legal battle against his abductors. But he enjoyed a lasting triumph that began with the sale of some 30,000 copies of his book when it first appeared, and continued with its republication in 1968 by the historian Sue Eakin.
Speaking on Friday, Mr. Ridley said he decided simply to “stick with the facts” in adapting Northup’s book for the film, which is set for release on Oct. 18 by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Mr. Ridley said he was helped by voluminous footnotes and documentation that were included with Ms. Eakin’s edition of the book. For decades, however, scholars have been trying to untangle the literal truth of Mr. Northup’s account from the conventions of the antislavery literary genre.
The difficulties are detailed in “The Slave’s Narrative,” a compilation of essays that was published by the Oxford University Press in 1985, and edited by Charles T. Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Mr. Gates is now credited as a consultant to the film, and he edited a recent edition of “Twelve Years a Slave.”) “When the abolitionists invited an ex-slave to tell his story of experience in slavery to an antislavery convention, and when they subsequently sponsored the appearance of that story in print, they had certain clear expectations, well understood by themselves and well understood by the ex-slave, too,” wrote one scholar, James Olney.
Mr. Olney was explaining pressures that created a certain uniformity of content in the popular slave narratives, with recurring themes that involved insistence on sometimes questioned personal identity, harrowing descriptions of oppression, and open advocacy for the abolitionist cause.  In his essay, called I Was Born: Slave Narratives, Their Status as Autobiography and as Literature, Mr. Olney contended that Solomon Northup’s real voice was usurped by David Wilson, the white “amanuensis” to whom he dictated his tale, and who gave the book a preface in the same florid style that informs the memoir.
“We may think it pretty fine writing and awfully literary, but the fine writer is clearly David Wilson rather than Solomon Northup,” Mr. Olney wrote.

Text Source and Full Text Continued at
New York Times, September 22, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

New and Noteworthy--Marrow of Tragedy: The Civil War As a Medical Laboratory

Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War, Margaret Humphreys, Johns Hopkins University Press; 400 pages; $34.95

From The Publisher:  The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease.

During the war soldiers suffered from measles, dysentery, and pneumonia and needed both preventive and curative food and medicine. Family members—especially women—and governments mounted organized support efforts, while army doctors learned to standardize medical thought and practice. Resources in the north helped return soldiers to battle, while Confederate soldiers suffered hunger and other privations and healed more slowly, when they healed at all.

In telling the stories of soldiers, families, physicians, nurses, and administrators, historian Margaret Humphreys concludes that medical science was not as limited at the beginning of the war as has been portrayed. Medicine and public health clearly advanced during the war—and continued to do so after military hostilities ceased.

The Author: Margaret Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor in the History of Medicine, a professor of history, and a professor of medicine at Duke University. She is the author of Intensely Human: The Health of the Black Soldier in the American Civil War and Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States, also published by Johns Hopkins
Blurbs: "A consistently engaging overview of Civil War medicine in its every aspect. Based on careful research and mastery of an abundant literature, Marrow of Tragedy provides a powerful depiction of a subject revealing of a dynamic and increasingly complex American society." Charles Rosenberg, Harvard University

"If there is one study that shows us the significance of sickness in the Civil War, and the attempts to define and counter it, this is it. With admirable scholarship and an eye for key turning points, Humphreys has written a compelling history of the war’s medical costs and achievements." Steven M. Stowe, Indiana University)

"Full of fresh perspectives, thoughtful insights, and judicious re-assessments, this sweeping synthesis by an outstanding historian will fundamentally change the way we think about Civil War medical history. For scholars and general readers alike, Marrow of Tragedy is a must-read book." James C. Mohr, University of Oregon

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

News--- Chamberlain's MOH Turns Up At Massachusetts Yard Sale

Joshua Chamberlain's Original 1893 Medal of Honor Found At Church Sale,  Seth Koenig, BDN State, September 10, 2013

One of the most prestigious medals earned by one of Maine’s most decorated sons was discovered at a church sale and turned over to a Brunswick-based organization for safe keeping, the group announced Monday.

The U.S. Army Medal of Honor was awarded to Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain — who would go on to become president of Bowdoin College and governor of Maine — in 1893 for “distinguished gallantry” in the Battle of Gettysburg 30 years earlier.The artifact was given to the Pejepscot Historical Society, which owns the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum in Brunswick, by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous, the organization announced Monday afternoon. The individual who came to own the medal found it in the back of a book he had purchased “several years ago” at a sale held by First Parish Church in Duxbury, Mass., according to the society.

Chamberlain’s last surviving descendant, granddaughter Rosamond Allen, left her estate to that church upon her death 13 years ago. “Though it seems almost too good to be true, we are confident that we are now in possession of Joshua Chamberlain’s original Medal of Honor,” said Pejepscot Historical Society Director Jennifer Blanchard in a Monday statement. “All of the experts we’ve consulted believe it to be authentic, and we are tremendously honored to return the medal to Chamberlain’s home in Brunswick. The timing couldn’t be better, since the medal was awarded for Chamberlain’s distinguished service in the Battle of Gettysburg, whose 150th anniversary we mark in 2013. Our gratitude to the donor who discovered this treasure, and knew its importance to us and to the state of Maine, knows no bounds.”

Chamberlain was a Brewer native who later attended Bowdoin College and led the Union Army’s 20th Maine Infantry Regiment in its crucial defense of the Little Round Top high-ground at Gettysburg, a stand considered by many historians to be one of the defining moments of the Civil War. Bowdoin College has in its possession a 1904 Army Medal of Honor that belonged to Chamberlain, representing an updated design of the award authorized by Congress at the time, according to the Pejepscot Historical Society.

The Legislature allowed recipients to keep their previous versions of the medal as long as they did not display both at the same time, and the 1893 artifact now in the society’s collection represents the earlier award. Blanchard worked with experts at the Maine State Museum, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and the Department of the Army’s Awards and Decorations Branch to confirm the medal’s authenticity, according to the society’s Monday announcement.

“Based upon the documentation submitted and the historical documentation available to this office, we are able to confirm that [the] Pejepscot Historical Society medallion is the 1862 United States Army Medal of Honor design,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael A. Ries, assistant chief of the Awards and Decorations Branch, in a statement. “It is an honor to authenticate the Medal of Honor bestowed upon Colonel Chamberlain for his extraordinary heroism on July 2, 1863.”
Historians throughout Maine lauded the find and donation. Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman in a statement called it “one of the most interesting discovery and donation stories on record.”

Text And Image Source; Full Text Continued at BDN State September 10, 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

News: Job Open At Gettysburg NMP: Superintendent

Gettysburg Battlefied Boss Announces Retirement, Mark Walters, The Evening Sun, September 5, 2013

After  40 years of service with the National Park Service, Bob Kirby, superintendent of the Gettysburg National Military Park, is retiring at the end of the year.

Kirby made his announcement at Thursday night's Gettysburg National Military Park Advisory Commission semiannual meeting. Kirby, who took over at Gettysburg in March 2010, will leave after accomplishing a litany of long-term projects including the demolition of the old Cyclorama building, selling the Electric Map and the acquisition of the Gettysburg Armory. Kirby said he would define his tenure at Gettysburg as being the guy who worked with a brilliant group of people. He simply was smart enough to get out of their way, he said. “My predecessor did a great job helping get this place built,” Kirby said of the museum and visitor center. “He got a lot of great stuff started. It was the logical step to smooth out the rough spots and keep a lot of that going.”

Kirby, a 64-year-old Freedom Township resident, said he intends to stick around an area that he loves. “This place has everything I'm looking for and I've lived all over the country,” Kirby said.
With the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg battle approaching as he took over the superintendent position, he anticipated the challenge, he said. “This is the Cadillac of cultural parks,” Kirby said. “Coming here was a combination of challenge and ego and just a love for this stuff.”

Some have considered the superintendent at Gettysburg as the pinnacle of national park ranger positions and a dream job to take as one nears retirement. Kirby said that is part of the ego aspect. You spend a career climbing a ladder and to say you ended your career at such a great place that is the premier cultural landscape park,” Kirby said. Kirby, who has worked at a plethora of other parks around the country, said that while some took longer than others, he and his staff was able to achieve the goals he established each year. The Cyclorama, Kirby said, took two years. “That's part of the process,” he said. “These are process-ladened things that take a huge amount of work.”

He said he is still hopeful the federal government can find a way to pass legislation that would bring the Lincoln Train Station on Gettysburg's Carlisle Street within the boundary of the national park by Nov. 19, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address.
“It's hard to say what's going to happen,” Kirby said. “Congress is always distracted but it's a noncontroversial piece of legislation supported by (Pennsylvania) Congressman Scott Perry and Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey.” Katie Lawhon, spokesperson for the National Park Service, said taking on so many projects and being a part of the Civil War 150th commemoration is fantastic, but that it is especially fun with a great leader like Kirby.

Text and Image Source and Story continued at The Evening Sun, September 5, 2013.