Welcome to a new, great year at DHS! The library has added Ms. Feinstein as a long-term maternity sub for Ms. Fiorito. Ms. Feinstein is already enjoying her role tremendously and is having a blast getting to know the students.
About Me/New Displays (by Ms. Feinstein)
After receiving my MA in history, I student taught both US history and law, and I also taught history at a charter school over the summer. I am trained as a history teacher, so if you have any questions about your social studies classes (even those outside of history specifically), feel free to ask me!
Because I’m such a history fan, I thought it’d be interesting to make a new library display regarding the Civil War. The Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation, to name just two of its milestones, occurred 150 years ago.
Photo courtesy of http://cwmemory.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/battle_of_chattanooga.jpg
Thinking critically about the past is a necessary component of fully utilizing history’s lessons. Like many parts of history, sometimes the Civil War gets enveloped in feel-good and/or simple and generic explanations and summaries. (George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree, but he still was an honest man!) Documentarian Ken Burns explains how the Civil War falls victim to dangerous levels of oversimplification:
“…620,000 Americans, more than 2 percent of our population, died of gunshot and disease, starvation and massacre in places like Shiloh and Antietam and Cold Harbor, Fort Pillow and Fort Wagner and Palmito Ranch, Andersonville and Chickamauga and Ford’s Theater.
Yet in the years immediately after the South’s surrender at Appomattox we conspired to cloak the Civil War in bloodless, gallant myth, obscuring its causes and its great ennobling outcome — the survival of the union and the freeing of four million Americans and their descendants from bondage…”
Maybe that’s why history matters – not just so we don’t repeat it, but so we honor its legacies with the nuance and critical thinking that they deserve. A “bloodless, gallant myth” is hardly enough.
On a more positive and optimistic note, since the Civil War and its “brother versus brother” combat, no event in US history has ruptured the country to such a great extent. Whether or not this country is truly united is a question without an easy answer, of course, but the fact that a large-scale democracy could emerge from the ruins of a bloody, catastrophic war is perhaps one of the most positive American legacies to endure.
Here are a few more helpful resources about the Civil War:
Official website for Ken Burns’s Civil War: http://www.pbs.org/civilwar/
The documentary is also available on Netflix Instant!
The Ken Burns effect used in many documentaries – and many iMovie projects! – comes from the producer Ken Burns himself. Here is a video detailing what the Ken Burns effect looks like.
History.com 150-year retrospective (lots of interactive material): http://www.history.com/interactives/civil-war-150#/home
National Archives photo collection: http://www.archives.gov/research/military/civil-war/photos/index.html
- Letters from a Union soldier, all compiled online as a good “case study” of wartime experiences: http://www.civilwarletters.com/