Caitlin Completes Captioning at the Coffee Shop

Hi everyone! My name is Caitlin Williamson. I’m a senior History/Secondary Education double-major, and for the last three years I’ve been a student assistant in the History Department. As a department assistant, one of the projects I’ve had the opportunity to work on is captioning the photographs in the Coffee Shop (aka “C-shop”). C-shop is plastered with photographs depicting the history of the College, but until recently, there was no information to go with them, leaving visitors ignorant of what they were looking at. It has been a pleasure working on this task as well as for this department, and I am so thrilled to see this project finished before I graduate! 

Q: How did the coffee shop captions project get started?

A: This project was started years ago, before I was even a student here. Prof. Salerno teaches a course on Public History (then called Applied History) in which students take on a public history project of their own. Two students (Eric Boumil ‘14 and Tim Anderson ‘15) noticed that there were many photographs of the history of the college in the Coffee Shop, but there were no captions or any way to identify the people, places, and things that were in these photographs. The project was large and therefore could not be finished in one semester, and so Kristen Van Uden ‘16, a department assistant took it on. When I was hired in my freshman year in 2015, I worked on the project with Kristen, and upon her graduation, it became mine. This years-long project was finally completed this September 2018.

Q: What was the most difficult picture or type of picture to identify?

A: Without a doubt, the most difficult type of picture to identify was one that had absolutely no information left with it. This is my PSA: now, more than ever in the digital age, please pay attention to how you leave information with your photographs! Think of the poor student in the future who has to research your photograph with no information attached to it! In all seriousness though, the most difficult ones were those of landscapes or with no people in them. It was possible to figure out pictures with people in them, since someone could recognize them. While some of the landscape pieces had identifying markers that could give us a general idea of when the photograph was taken, sometimes we could only pin it to the decade. Additionally, there was no way to tell why the photograph had been taken. As beautiful as these pictures are, they were the most difficult to identify. 

Q: What kinds of sources did you find to help identify images/information?

A: I relied on a variety of resources during this project, the most important of which was Google. Google was my best friend throughout this entire project. There are images of quite a few notable alumni hanging on the walls, and sometimes a simple Google search of their name would connect me to information. However, that was not always the case, and more specific details were at times much harder to find. The old College catalogs, some of which are digitized (with the rest located in Geisel Library), were very helpful, as they listed every student who attended the College in a given year, as well as other information about the College. Additionally, the College magazine, Portraits, had a lot of information about the history of the school that was invaluable.

A number of people were also incredibly helpful. Keith Chevalier, the College Archivist, possesses an amazing wealth of knowledge about Saint Anselm College and was a huge help when a photograph was particularly difficult to identify. Additionally, members of the monastery were able to identify some of the photographs over the course of this project.

Q: What did the project teach you about the history of photographs, the history of the College, or the highs and lows of public history projects like this?

A: I really enjoyed how much I learned about the history of the College while doing this project. I feel like everyone on campus knows the basic story, but being able to dive deeper and really know how we were founded, what student life used to be like, and see all the changes that happened on campus over the past 129 years, made me feel so much more connected to Saint Anselm College than I would have been without doing this project. A few of my favorite things I found out during this process: early in the College’s history, we had an ornithological (bird-watching) society, and it was the most popular club on campus; women were at first only allowed in the nursing program, before being allowed in the liberal arts program years later; and Saint A’s didn’t have a football team through the last half of the 1900s due to low enrollment because of World War II (the team was reinstated in the 1990s). And we have alumni who have gone on to become professional athletes, notable school administrators, and even an Olympic bobsledder!

I also learned a lot about public history. I discovered that many people will not notice when there are no captions, or not notice when some seemingly magically appear on the walls. That was definitely a low. But I also experienced the high of figuring out a caption for a particularly difficult picture, learning something completely new about the College, or even having someone say “oh yeah, I noticed there are captions now!” when I mentioned to them the project I was doing. I’m sure my friends were bored with me pointing out the new captions each time they went up, but I’d just like to thank them for cheering me on (and taking the time to read a couple!).

Q: What other activities are you involved in on campus?

A: In addition to working in the History Department, I am an Ambassador for the Office of Admission. I give tours and conduct interviews with prospective students, and I love every second of it. I feel like my tours have gotten better because of my work on this project. I feel more connected with the College, and I also have quite a few SAC fun facts in my back pocket to tell families. I’m also involved with the Meelia Center for Community Engagement. I’m a coordinator for Access Academy, which is a program where refugee, immigrant, and underrepresented students earn high school credit by taking a class at Saint A’s taught by students of the College. I teach Public Speaking, and my students blow me away with their dedication and skill every semester. If I’m not in the History Department, Admission, or Meelia, you may find me at a club meeting, in the library, or cooking in my apartment with my roommates.

Q: Do you see yourself integrating a project like this with your students when you teach? 

A: Before doing this project, I would have said no. Local history isn’t something that is often studied at the high school level. But having finished this project, I would love doing something like this with my students in the future. Although my students may come from many different backgrounds ethnically, religiously, linguistically, financially, etc., one thing they will all have in common is belonging to the same school community. I think local history is tangible in a way that US History or World History, broadly, isn’t to students who don’t have a passion for it. I think a project like this would also suit the high school classroom, because a lot of the time I hear from people “I never liked history, it was just memorizing a bunch of dates and facts,” and I want to shout from the rooftops that no, it isn’t, it is so much more than that! A project like this shows people just how much more the study of history can be. That it is important, valuable, interesting, and worthwhile.


Warth, American Studies, and NH-INBRE

The History Department has two majors —History and American Studies. American Studies is an interdisciplinary major that allows students to learn about the United States from multiple perspectives, including history, literature, politics, art and music, religion, philosophy, sociology, and criminal justice. One Thing After Another sat down with American Studies major Katherine Warth ’21 from Rochester, NY to talk about the major and her summer research project.

Q: What made you decide to be an American Studies major?

A: I’m really interested in American History, but I wanted to be able to take a range of classes in different departments during my time at Saint A’s. The American Studies program allows me to take the American history classes I love while also exploring different fields like sociology, politics, and art history. It’s the perfect fit for someone interested in interdisciplinary studies!

Q: What has been your best experience in the major thus far?  

A: My best experience in the major so far has been being a part of the history department family! All of the professors in the history department are so kind, intelligent, and passionate about history. [One Thing After Another is blushing!] It’s been a true pleasure getting to know them! They all always have open doors to students and are great people to go in and talk to if you need a little extra help with a paper or just want to have a chat.

Q: What do you do when you are not doing classes and research?

A: When I’m not doing classwork or research, you can almost always find me in the lower church working for the choir. Music has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember, and one of the first things I did after arriving on campus freshman year was audition for choir. I currently work as choir manager so I spend a lot of my time sorting music, preparing paperwork, and designing whiteboards (@sacchoirwhiteboards on instagram). Working and singing for the choir is one of my favorite things I do on campus!

Q: You got paid to do research this summer and presented your findings at a regional conference.  How did you get involved in the project?

A: After taking a social statistics course in Fall 2017, my professor reached out to me to see if I was interested in doing stats for a research project during summer 2018. After learning more about this research project—a statistical analysis of data collected on postpartum depression—I decided to submit a formal application for a NH-INBRE grant. The NH-INBRE program provides undergraduate students in New Hampshire with grants to perform biomedical research both during the academic year and over the summer. After receiving this grant, I officially became a part of a research team of four students and two professors!

Q: What did your research involve?

My research primarily used statistics to analyze data on postpartum depression and other postpartum experiences. Data used for my research was collected by Saint Anselm College nursing professor Dr. Deb McCarter at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire. Analyzing this data meant first transferring women’s responses into a SPSS, a computer statistical analysis program, filing and labeling, categorizing, and giving values for each variable. Next, I conducted descriptive statistics (mean, median, frequency), created graphs (histograms, pie charts), and conducted advanced analysis (Analysis of Variance, Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance).

Q: What were you trying to find out or prove or disprove?

A: In my research, I was trying to prove that women’s experiences with postpartum depression influence their breastfeeding intensity or the number of times a day they breastfeed in comparison to other feedings. I found out that postpartum depression does in fact impact breastfeeding intensity, with women experiencing moderate to high signs of postpartum depression having a significantly lower breastfeeding intensity than women with low signs of postpartum depression. My poster with all of my findings is hanging on the third floor of Gadbois if you’d like to know more!

Q: What impact did your research have on you and what impact do you hope it will have on others?

A: This research had a significant impact on me as a woman who may someday have children, I felt really connected to what I was studying. It also helped me understand what many women go through after giving birth which has equipped me to better support friends or family members through the process. I’m hoping that my research will have an impact on nursing practices, encouraging nurses to do additional screenings for postpartum depression, diagnose, and begin treatment as soon as needed. I also hope that people who see my poster or hear about my research will become more aware of the significance of postpartum depression and the serious consequences it can have on millions of mothers all over the world if left untreated.

Q: Where did you present your research and what was that like?

A: I presented my research at the annual NH-INBRE conference at the Mount Washington Resort this August. I had a great time presenting my work and hearing about other students research at this conference! I got to present at an open poster session, which gave me the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with people about my research and how it’s significant. I got a really positive response from everyone who stopped by! Lots of mothers and fathers came by and shared their own stories about their experience or their partner’s experience with postpartum depression and breastfeeding intensity, which really showed me how my research impacts everyone. Everyone knows someone who’s had a child, and it was great to hear feedback from people who’ve had experiences with childbirth. Hearing other students present their research also inspired me in my own work. Seeing students who are so passionate about the research they’re doing really showed me what the scientific community is all about. Overall, this conference was a wonderful experience that helped me learn a lot about my own research and expanded my knowledge of many other areas of scientific research.

Q: Will you be continuing to do work on this project, or do you have plans to work on another research project?

A: I’m continuing to work on this project during the school year, mostly preparing to present at the Breastfeeding and Feminism International Conference in South Carolina in March. I also am working on formally writing up the results of my research and sending it to be reviewed for publication so that more people can read about what I did and learn from my research. I also have the honor of working as a research assistant in the history department next semester. I will be doing research with Professor Moore on the post-presidential career of Jimmy Carter, reading and analyzing documents from this time period. I’m very excited to do this research as I’ve been interested in Jimmy Carter since watching Argo in middle school and because it gives me an opportunity to do historical research outside of the classroom!

Q: Other than research, what are you most looking forward to this year at SAC?

A: I’m most looking forward to going on a winter break service and solidarity trip through campus ministry in January. I’m going to Bethlehem Farm in West Virginia with a great group of students, and I’m very excited to have the chance to do service through Saint A’s for part of my winter break.

Graduating Seniors Remember Professor Shannon’s Conversatio Section

In addition to teaching history courses, some History faculty also teach in the first-year Conversatio program.  Because it is a required course for all first-year students, History faculty get to teach a wide variety of students with majors across all the disciplines. Four years ago, Professor Silvia Shannon had a particularly lively and engaged seminar.

Participant Theodore (Ted) Boivin ’18 described it “as one of the best highlights of my freshman year. We had a truly wonderful group with some excellent discussions on a wide array of topics, debating everything from ancient Greek tragedy to 20th-century bioethics, sharing diverse perspectives on the material.”

Four years later, the students still remembered the seminar and their experience together.  As Ted wrote, “While we were being lined up for the procession into the Honors Convocation [in May 2018], Andrew Bompastore and I noticed that, of the twenty-eight students who achieved Summa Cum Laude status this year, seven of us were all in Professor Shannon’s Conversatio section: Olive Capone, Maddie Dunn, Emily Garcia, Erin Krell, Olivia Thornburg, and Andrew and me. We took a picture to send to you as a Conversatio throwback with our thanks for such an amazing start to our four years! We couldn’t have done it without you!”

A Classics major and History minor, Ted is headed off to the University of Cincinnati for a PhD in classical philology (the study of the life, languages, and thought of the Ancient Greek and Roman worlds). Biology major and Neuroscience minor Erin Krell is pursuing graduate studies in psychology at the University of New Hampshire. Education Studies major and Philosophy minor Olive Capone is pursuing teaching positions in New York State.

All faculty know that the success of a seminar requires a combination of excellent teaching skill, careful listening, curious and engaged students, and a little luck. Congratulations to Professor Shannon and these class of 2018 grads on one great seminar.

History Department Inducts New Members into Phi Alpha Theta

On Thursday, April 26, the History Department inducted nine new members of the Sigma Omega chapter of the History Honor Society Phi Alpha Theta. PAT promotes the study of history through intellectual and social exchanges between history students and faculty, and among historians.  Professor Sean Perrone welcomed the many parents, siblings and friends who attended. Current members Colleen Gaughan ’18 and Lily-Gre Hitchen ’18 read the oath of induction, and then presented certificates to the new members. We are honored to welcome the following students into the chapter. The following history majors were inducted:  William Bearce ‘19,  Thomas Gillespie ’19, Sarah Hummel ’19, Emily Lowe ’19, Tim Stap ’19, Gregory Valcourt ’19, Caitlin Williamson ’19  History minors included Rebecca O’Keeffe ’18, Andrew Shue ’18.

Eligibility for Phi Alpha Theta includes four courses in History, with a minimum 3.1 GPA in History and 3.0 GPA overall.  Members are inducted for life, and receive a one-year subscription to the The Historian.  Members are eligible for undergraduate and graduate fellowships, paper prizes, and participation in annual Phi Alpha Theta conferences. There are 970 PAT chapters across the United States and 35 regional meetings nationwide each spring.

Lowe and Warner Win Honors Summer Research Fellowships

It’s been quite a month for History majors Kelsey Warner ’19 (double-majoring in English) and Emily Lowe ’19 (double-majoring in Secondary Education) (left and right above). First, they won two of the three inaugural Honors Summer Research Fellowships awarded. Having obtained stipends of $4,000 each, they will spend the summer pursuing research projects at the college. Second, they are semi-finalists for the Fr. Bernard Holmes, O.S.B., Scholarship for the 2018-2019 academic year. One Thing after Another always stands ready to broadcast the achievements of History majors, and this is no exception. This blog caught up with Warner and Lowe so it could ask them a few questions.

Q: Why did you decide to attend St. Anselm College?

KW: I decided to attend St. Anselm College because of the community here. I had originally intended to go to Saint Michael’s College, but I decided to attend Accepted Students Day at Saint A’s  just to make sure I didn’t want to go there. While I enjoyed the various workshops, lessons, and classes, I didn’t feel anything in particular pulling me here. But, my mom and I stopped by Davison for some food before we left, and we ended up sitting with an incredible group of students and professors. In talking with these people and what they liked about the college, they all described the same feeling of being a family member on this campus and that Saint A’s was truly their home. Something clicked while I was talking to them. On the car ride home, I told my mom I wanted to come here, and my mom told me she could already tell.

EL: I was first introduced to Saint Anselm College through one of my closest friends from home. I came up to visit her often, went to various classes, hung out in the CShop, and attended masses here. When it finally came time to apply to colleges, Saint Anselm seemed like a natural fit. I had enjoyed the small classes and the academic rigor, as well as the ways in which the school helps students develop outside of their school work. Throughout my life, I was inspired by the teachers who were instrumental in my development, and I had seen so many adults on campus truly care for their students and take an interest in their lives.

Q: What attracted you to the history major?

KW: I originally came to Saint A’s as a Theology major. However, I filled one of my elective slots with a history class that seemed interesting: New England History with Professor Salerno. Little did I know it was a 300-level class filled with upperclassmen. Once Professor Salerno realized I was a freshman, she offered to let me to drop the class if I desired. Instead, I not only I decided to stay in the class but also participate in extra class sessions as well as an extra research project for the course as an honors-option. By the end of the semester, I had declared a second major in history because I was so intrigued by passion I saw for the subject in my professor and the enthusiasm of my classmates. I have always loved history, and it was so refreshing to be around people with that same level of passion for the subject.

EL: In high school, I really enjoyed my history classes. I had always thought I would become a doctor when I was older, but after taking lots of chemistry and biology classes, I realized I did not love it enough to make a career out of it. I came to college undeclared and realized I had loved history for a long time without even really considering it as a major. In Professor Cronin’s Freshman English class, we read an excerpt about a history class. While I was reading, I distinctly remember putting ideas in the back of my head for when I would teach a similar unit. The next day, I declared a double major in History and Secondary Education. Deep down, I think I always knew I wanted to teach, but it took me a while to actually commit to it.

Q: Why did you decide to accept the invitation to the honors program? What do you like about it?

KW: I decided to accept a spot in the honors program because I thought it would help me stay on track academically in college. However, what I have come to love about the program is that despite the various backgrounds and intellectual interests of its students, we are all connected by a love of learning and a desire to pursue our academic endeavors. I love attending honors events and just listening to like-minded people talk about their interests and sharing my own academic passions.

EL:  I spoke with a freshman whom I had met on campus who was an honors student, and she said it was a great program and had some pretty interesting classes that were not open to other students. That was all I really needed to convince me to accept the invitation. I even ended up taking Professor Dubrulle and Masur’s History’s Mysteries with this friend during my freshman year! Overall, the Honors Program has provided me with a lot of opportunities to work closely with professors and get to know other people. I became really good friends with everyone in my Conversatio section, for which I am so grateful. I don’t think I would have met a lot of those friends had it not been for that class, so I always attribute much of my happiness and success to the honors program.

Q: Tell us about your research project for the summer and why you’re interested in doing research in this area. What do you expect to learn from this project?

KW: My project for this summer is investigating how female regional writers are represented through the various historical lenses of literature, primary evidence, and public memory by examining the author Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) as a case study. I’m interested in doing research in this area because I am an English and History double major and Gender Studies Minor. My favorite aspect of history is examining public history and specifically how it remembers women. The purpose of historical research, at its base, is to provide an accurate representation of the past to examine its context, the roles people played, and the implications it has on the world today. However, historical representation in museums has this same motivation but combined with the need to drive tourism and maintain a business. Museums often want to provoke interest in the past and sometimes make historical figures “relatable” or heroic.  Thus, the commitment to accuracy of the kind sought by historians may compete with other measures of a good narrative.  This same dynamic informs Jewett’s representation of women in her writing, because it is filtered through her creative mindset, and by her hope of publication (and her sensitivity to her critics and readers).  I will be comparing letters and diary entries of Sarah Orne Jewett to her literature and compare that to her home-turned-museum in Berwick, Maine, to hopefully learn if female authors are remembered differently in public history, and if so, why they are remembered differently.

EL: This summer, I will be looking at the 5th Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry as a case study in the treatment of battlefield trauma during the Civil War. The regiment suffered more combat fatalities over the course of the war than any other Union regiment, making it a great subject for the study. I am really excited because this project will give me a chance to focus on research in a way that I haven’t been able to in classes thus far. Focusing on this topic for eight weeks will help me to get a firm grasp on the topic and expand my historical reasoning skills. Professor Dubrulle has an extensive knowledge of the 5th New Hampshire, so I am confident he will help my research make a meaningful contribution to Civil War scholarship in general. I wanted to take his Civil War class this semester, but unfortunately could not, so hopefully this research makes up for that missed opportunity.

Q: Both of you are double-majors and honors students. And both of you are extensively involved with a variety of extracurricular activities. Could you tell us something about what those activities are? How do you find the time to do all of this?

KW: I am currently the Director of Costumes and Makeup for the Anselmian Abbey Players as well as an avid member in various productions with the Abbeys. I am also a small group facilitator for the chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success on campus and a New Student Orientation Leader. I’m the Junior Editor of the Yearbook and a research assistant to Professors Smits Keeney and Pilarski. I am the President and a founding member of the True Equality and Dignity Alliance (TEDA), the first Gay-Straight Alliance at Saint Anselm College. Finally, I’ve also worked various off-campus jobs while in college, including a 40-hour-per-week job as a Supervisor at Charlotte Russe last semester.

I don’t really know how I find time to do all of this. I think the reason I can participate in all these activities is because I am passionate about all of them. They all allow me to contribute to the community in some way. They add value to my life by teaching me something and adding to my happiness.

EL: The first organization I joined during my freshman year was the club Rugby Team. I play scrumhalf and wing for the team and will serve as the club president next year. I am also on the Honors Council and work in the ARC as well as the library. I am a leader for Anselmian 360 and an RA. Finally, I am teaching a class of high school students with Professor Greene Henning for Access Academy which has been such an amazing experience. Balancing everything can be difficult at times, so I drink a lot of coffee. I also like to de-stress by listening to music and running. Taking a break from school and just clearing my mind helps me to come back to my schoolwork more focused. In the end, I am involved with all of these clubs and activities because I truly enjoy being a part of them and helping them be successful, so it is worth it. Saint Anselm also has an incredible network of people around me to provide support. My friends along with the faculty and staff here are so supportive that I know I am never alone in my work.

Q: What is your home town? Tell us something about it that most people don’t know.

KW: My hometown in Somersworth, New Hampshire. Although I’ve only lived there for five years, I love it. Something most people don’t know about my town is that John Sullivan, a general in the Revolutionary War and delegate to the Continental Congress, was from Somersworth.

EL: I am proud to call Northborough, Massachusetts my home. Aside from its small-town feel and its amazing people, Northborough has a rich history. Northborough was originally a part of the City of Marlborough, but split off in 1775, following Westborough’s lead. Naturally, all three high schools are fierce rivals, with Algonquin Regional (for residents of Northborough and Southborough) being clearly the superior institution. White Cliffs, which is a function facility near my house, used to be the vacation home of Daniel Wesson who co-founded Smith & Wesson, the famous revolver manufacturer whose business really took off during the Civil War. The official spelling of the town is Northborough, but you can also spell it Northboro depending on your mood.

Furthermore, I consider that the myth of the unemployable History major must be destroyed.

Hummel Puts on a Display at the NHIOP

Fans of the History Department will be happy to know that Sarah Hummel ’19 has made some news down at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Hummel used Institute memorabilia to construct two displays, including one that appears in the New Hampshire Political Library. For more information, check out the press release on the Saint Anselm College web site.

Furthermore, I consider that the myth of the unemployable History major must be destroyed.

History Majors Make the Civil War “Legible and Searchable” for the Future

“What is a gabion?”

“Where are the Bolivar Heights?”

“What does ‘N. f. r. A. G. O.’ stand for?

“Is that word ‘gout’?”

These kinds of questions were asked every Friday afternoon around 2:30 in Professor Hugh Dubrulle’s office this semester. Why? Four student research assistants—history majors Caitlin Williamson ‘19, Gregory Valcourt ‘19Lauren Batchelder ‘18, and William Bearce ‘19 (from left to right in the photo above)—prepared materials for the research project that will be assigned in History 352: The American Civil War and Reconstruction which Dubrulle will teach next semester (Spring 2018). This project will require students in the course to do research on the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry and write papers explaining the degree to which the regiment’s experiences match up with what current Civil War historiography claims about a variety of topics. These topics will include studies of the regiment’s participation in various battles and biographies of its leading officers. Other papers will look at topics such as desertion, politics, discipline, leadership, recruitment, medicine, and so on.

Why choose the 5th New Hampshire? Dubrulle says there are several reasons: “First, it lost more combat fatalities over the course of the Civil War than any other unit in Federal service. We ought to remember and honor this distinction, but it also raises the following question: what made it possible for this regiment, which was a typical product of its time and place, to compile such an outstanding service record? Second, much primary source material is easily available in local archives or online. Third, there are some excellent secondary sources about the unit in print, particularly Mike Pride and Mark Travis’ My Brave Boys: To War with Colonel Cross & the Fighting Fifth (2001).”

Williamson, Batchelder, Valcourt, and Bearce assisted Dubrulle with a number of important tasks, including transcribing letters and entering information from regimental service records into a searchable database. As Valcourt put it, their job consisted of making “the past legible and searchable for the future.” Williamson and Batchelder first transcribed the letters (34 of them) of Pvt. Miles Peabody (born and raised in Antrim, NH) who enlisted in Co. K of the 5th New Hampshire in 1861 at the age of 21. Williamson and Batchelder then moved on to transcribe selected portions of Lieut.-Col. James E. Larkin’s correspondence. A coach painter from Concord, NH, Larkin was mustered in as a 1st Lieut. when the regiment was organized in October 1861. He eventually became the commander of the unit in June 1864.

Both Batchelder and Williamson enjoyed getting to know Peabody and Larkin through their letters. Williamson commented that “I became really attached to the soldiers while reading their correspondence! I felt for them and found myself really invested in their stories that were told over a century ago.” Batchelder also felt an affinity for the men whose letters she read. On occasion, however, she was startled by what they wrote: “A lot of people assume that the Northerners were ‘the good guys,’ but there were times when I transcribed the letters and I would see these people fighting for the Union making a racist comment or saying something completely unexpected.” Such moments made her realize that while she shared a common humanity with these soldiers, they lived in a very different world.

Although Batchelder noted that “some people have the messiest handwriting,” Williamson pointed out that reading handwriting was actually affecting: “There is a lot of emotion in these letters, and much of it is expressed in the handwriting.” Not only that, Williamson felt that reading the letters helped illuminate Civil War history in a striking way that other sources could not. As she put it, the correspondence allowed her to study the conflict more broadly than one might have thought. The letters show “what they [the soldiers] were eating, what they were doing with their time, how they slept, what the weather was like, their experience on the battlefield—along with other important moments, all seen from different perspectives.”

Meanwhile, Bearce and Valcourt scoured Augustus D. Ayling’s Revised Register of the Soldiers and Sailors of New Hampshire in the War of the Rebellion 1861-1866 (1895) for the abbreviated service records of all the men who served in the 5th New Hampshire during the war. They then transferred this information to an Excel spreadsheet that is both searchable and sortable. Arrayed in this fashion, the data can yield all sorts of interesting patterns. For instance, Bearce quickly noticed that substitutes and foreign-born soldiers seemed much more likely to desert than volunteers and the native-born. Valcourt was stunned by the large number of casualties the regiment lost in the last days of the war at the Battle of Farmville (otherwise known as the Battle of High Bridge)—a fight he’d never heard of. Both research assistants recognized that intriguing trends in the data could prove very useful to students writing papers on any number of topics. At the same time, Bearce also saw that the “the quantitative information [from the database] complements the qualitative data from the transcription of letters.” Among other things, “one can use the service records to contextualize the letters and vice versa.” Valcourt was struck by the strange stories “and colorful cast of characters” that seemed to emerge from the spare notes of the abbreviated service records. His favorite person was Oliver Grapes, an original volunteer in the regiment who deserted in July 1863 and, using the alias Oliver Vine, volunteered the next month as a Wagoner in the 3rd Maryland Volunteer Infantry. As Valcourt explained it, “you learn about the ‘small’ people in order to understand ‘big’ people and events.” At the end of the day, though, through the exercise of data entry, Bearce learned how “quantitative history can be, and how the quantitative aspects of history comes to be.” And, of course, both Bearce and Valcourt brushed up on their Excel skills.

Throughout the semester, all of the research assistants were intrigued with finding out “the rest of the story.” Batchelder and Williamson were crushed to learn that Peabody died of illness in November 1864 near Alexandria, VA. They were relieved to learn, however, that Larkin survived the war. Unfortunately, as a result of his military service, he suffered from ill-health, particularly rheumatism, for the rest of his life. Larkin floated between a number of jobs before dying in 1911. From his very different perspective of having dealt with the service records, Bearce was interested in finding out what happened after the war to the soldiers he studied. Noting that Ayling’s Revised Register had addresses for many veterans who had survived to 1895, Bearce stated, “I would really like someone to take on the challenge of doing research using the post office addresses listed in the registry for some purpose. These just seem absolutely tantalizing to me, and I think a paper trying to find out how people adjusted after the war would be very interesting.” One can only hope that future students working with these sources will take on that challenge as well as some of the others presented by the material.

And by the way, what are the answers to the questions above? A gabion is a wicker basket filled with earth and used to shore up fortifications. Bolivar Heights overlooks the town of Harper’s Ferry in what is now West Virginia. “N. f. r. A. G. O.” stands for “No further record Adjutant General’s Office, Washington DC.” And yes, the word in the letter was “gout.”

Furthermore, I consider that the myth of the unemployable History major must be destroyed.