The formal, official realization that history was more than just a passing interest was in 9th grade when we studied the American Civil War. The unit included Ken Burns’ epic documentary and concluded with the movie Gettysburg. It’s hard to resist that closing shot of the Chamberlain brothers against a dramatic sunset with the sweeping violins of Randy Edelman’s soundtrack. Then I learned the film was based on a book, Killer Angels, so I had to read the book, which was based on real historical figures so I had to find biographies on everyone mentioned, and the obsession passion grew from there.

I had always liked the American Girl books, and my favorite units in middle school were on ancient history – Egypt, Greece, Rome – but something about the Civil War invaded my brain and hasn’t let go since.

I finished at Notre Dame with a degree in history, concentrated on 19th Century American history and 19th Century Irish medical history. It won’t be a surprise when I say my primary focus was on the Civil War, but the Colonial Era is cool and under appreciated. In fact, all the histories are cool, but I can’t speak coherently on anything after Appomattox …

With a degree in history, there was only one place to go – Washington, DC! There are loads of sites and museums! My goal is to see all the sites, visit all the museums, and maybe learn something along the way. In the words of Robert E. Lee, “The education of a man is never complete until he dies.” It is fitting, then, that I am here to learn more, and I am lucky that I get to share it with the Internet.

[ Also, I include footnotes, additional reading, and image sources because I’m kind of a dork like that and believe in fair attribution of intellectual property. ]


Post Script: I, er, don’t live in the DC environs anymore. I took a time warp to Philadelphia and the American Revolution… :/

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