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Border State Blues: A Civil War Scrapbook in Baltimore

By Emily Huebner

From the Faculty Nominator:

Emily Huebner wrote this paper for my Public History seminar in the fall of 2012.  One of the topics we explore in Public History is the creation of popular memory.  Emily found a marvelous source in Special Collections and Archives which provided great insight into this process.  She studied a group of six Civil War scrapbooks assembled by the Miller family of Baltimore, and, with the aid of secondary sources, developed a compelling interpretive thesis.  Emily's analysis of the scrapbooks is sophisticated and incisive.  Her careful reading of the many articles clipped in the scrapbooks leads her to grasp "the complexity of loyalty" which characterized the views of the Miller family.  The variety of articles and sometimes conflicting views expressed in those articles can be difficult to understand, but Emily is able to use these articles to construct a convincing portrait of ambivalent Southerners in wartime Baltimore, loyal to the Union but still devoted to the South. Through her sensitive and well-informed reading of the Civil War scrapbooks, Emily has demonstrated the richness of this extraordinary historical source.  She illuminates the value of the scrapbooks as artifacts which helped the Miller family "preserve and remember a formative era in American history."  At the same time, she is able to mine the scrapbooks for valuable insights into the experience of the people of Baltimore during the difficult and highly divisive era of the Civil War. "Loyalty and Memory" is an important scholarly contribution to our understanding of the complex social history of Civil War Baltimore.

From the author:

The process of writing this paper taught me how research is driven by curiosity. I was introduced to this series of Civil War scrapbooks a year before I wrote this paper for a public history seminar, and my first inquiries into the context and content of the scrapbooks led me to more questions about the circumstances and beliefs of the family that created them, as well as the tradition of scrapbooking itself. I realized that the newspaper clippings in the scrapbook were not going to give me the answers that I wanted; I would need to learn more about Baltimore during the Civil War and follow the clues the primary sources gave me to find out more. The only answers I would get were the ones that I found for myself. My public history class gave me the perfect chance to dig deeper into the context and content of these scrapbooks in order to understand their larger historical significance. This project gave me the opportunity to use my research skills to solve an intriguing mystery. 

Read: Border State Blues: A Civil War Scrapbook in Baltimore

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