Thursday, January 22, 2015

"Confederates" or "Rebels"?

Which term was more popular during the Civil War?  Matt Pinsker of Dickinson College began his Civil War class this semester by asking his students this question.  Check out his post to see the various ways one could arrive at an answer. Here is a taste:

Perhaps the most fruitful way to answer this question would be to create a series of visualizations from various digitized historical newspapers.  Of course, that idea is quite ambitious.  It appears for now at least that nobody has yet attempted to do this.  However, the New York Times Disunion series contains an excellent post from a professor and student at Gettysburg College that addresses an aspect of this issue in a thought-provoking way.  Professor Scott Hancock and undergraduate student Alexandra Milano wrote about the “Real Rebels of the Civil War” in October 2013.  Their post is worth reading for anyone interested in how the use of words can dramatically affect the interpretations of actions.