Saturday, February 5, 2011

About me/what this is all about

I have been studying the Civil War since the age of 8, after a family vacation that stopped in Gettysburg and watching the Ken Burns series on the subject alongside my older sister, herself a longtime researcher of it. The next year, at the age of 9, I wrote a story in the style of a girl keeping a diary during the war and living near Manassas, Va. My English teacher saw it and liked it, and wanted to publish it. So after many recesses spent editing and illustrating, it was published as "Harriet's Diary," with enough copies for family members.
At age 10, I joined a local Civil War living history group along with my sister and brother-in-law based upon the original 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company I. What many people do not realize is that living history takes a lot of research into all aspects of life during that time period.
In 2007, I graduated magna cum laude from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's in history. While there, I was secretary of the History Club and a member of two honor societies: Phi Alpha Theta (history) and Iota Iota Iota (women's studies).
That fall, I entered graduate school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the public history program. I did an internship at the Senator John Heinz Regional History Center in Pittsburgh in the community programs department. Part of my work was to research statewide Civil War living history groups and put them together in a volume. I also served as a graduate assistant to Dr. Joseph Mannard. My project was to edit and transcribe correspondence from the sisters at the Convent of the Visitation of Wheeling from 1846-64. I also interned at the school's Special Collections and Archives. I graduated in 2009.
Now? I am always looking for a new job in my field. I volunteer often at West Overton Museums in Scottdale, where my sister is the archivist.
The people who inspire me most are my sister, who got me into all this in the first place; my parents (including my late father who had a love of history) who have both been supportive and instilled in me a love of reading, and my boyfriend who co-owns a publishing company in Gettysburg and has thus inspired me to get moving on getting this all published.

So what's this all about?
It all started with a paper I wrote in fall 2008 for my Civil War and Reconstruction class at IUP under Dr. Wang Xi. Us grad students were to write a paper on a topic of our choice. The Allegheny Arsenal explosion had long fascinated me since it happened close to me, about 35 miles from my hometown. The great loss of life, especially of young ladies, was shocking. In my research, I found that this was no isolated incident. Other explosions took place during the war in Richmond and Washington, each killing many young women. So I wrote a comparative study of such incidents, seeking to answer why so many women knowingly risked their lives for the war effort. And why they are seemingly forgotten today. Those are the objectives I will answer in my eventual book.

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