Emerging Civil War · March 2017
Women's History Month · 10 Questions with...
Hannah Gordon · News & Notes · To Footnote or Not
Of the many maxims Stonewall Jackson modeled his life after, one of the best-known to us today deals with determination: “
You may be whatever you resolve to be
.” As it happens, this proved to be especially relevant advice for my daughter, Stephanie, a Stonewall groupie since she was four years old.
As a young father, I wanted my little girl to know she could grow up to be anything she wanted to be, so long as she put her mind to it and worked hard. After all, what father does not want what’s best for his daughter? If Stephanie encountered glass ceilings, I wanted her to be of the mindset that she could smash right through them. She needed only to resolve.
To help reinforce that attitude, I wanted to promote good role models for my daughter—and that’s what first got me interested in Women’s History Month some two decades ago, as an employee first at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and later at St. Bonaventure University.
There are plenty more great stories, too.
My hope for you this Women’s History Month is that you take the time to pass along your own good advice and encouragement to a young girl who’s special to you. Remind your daughter, granddaughter, niece, goddaughter, or neighbor that she, too, can be whatever she resolves to be.
10 Questions with . . . Hannah Gordon
Although “Hannah Gordon” isn’t a name most ECW readers recognize, she plays a key role in our publications division as an editor and designer for the Emerging Civil War Series and series editor for the upcoming Emerging Revolutionary War Series. You can
read more about her bio here
Most ECW readers wouldn’t know your name because you work behind the scenes. Tell us a little bit about what you do.
Well, last March, Chris Mackowski brought me on as a designer. It was the first time I ever designed books; I’d been used to working on newspapers, magazines, and promotional things. I found I loved it, so when he asked if I’d like to come on as the editor for Emerging Revolutionary War Series, I was ecstatic. While waiting for those first manuscripts, I began editing manuscripts for ECW to help out.
I also recently began my master’s program in integrated marketing communications. The goal of the program is to develop a marketing communications plan for a client (and subsequently learn the skills to be able to do it again and again). I chose ECW as my client, so I guess you could say I also work on marketing communications for ECW.
What was it like coming to Civil War history “sideways”—as primarily a writer/editor who happened to be writing and editing Civil War history as opposed to a historian who happened to be writing about it?
It’s certainly been an experience. At the ECW retreat in February, I felt so out of place when one of the guys cracked a Civil War joke and the room erupted with laughter. I could only glance around the table and hope the next wise crack was modern. Everyone has been great, though. I’ve learned quite a bit. As I edit, I’m constantly sending emails to authors because they have a comma in the wrong place, but if I move it, it changes the entire meaning of the sentence. So I always have to get people to explain the history to me before I can change one simple thing. But through it all, I’ve definitely learned a lot and gained a deeper appreciation for American history that I didn’t have before. I’ve always been interested in history, but I was more fascinated with World War II and the Holocaust. The most enthralling part of U.S. history for me was the 1920s and ‘30s. But given that one of the many hats I wear is as a journalist, it’s becoming more and more important for me to have a firm grasp of American history since its inception in order to speak intelligently and report accurately. ECW has given me a great springboard for that task.
What’s the hardest part about being an editor? The easiest part?
I think I addressed this a little in the last question. It’s incredibly hard to get into a groove of editing when I have to stop every few pages because I need clarification of the history. Sometimes there is a sentence that just doesn’t make sense, but if I rewrite, I could accidentally rewrite history incorrectly. Sometimes I can highlight the sentence and come back to it, but other times I have to stop completely and wait for a response from the author because that one sentence can impact the rest of the chapter.
That’s a very specific challenge I have with ECW. But there are challenges as an editor in general. Sometimes, writers have a great concept and terrible execution. It’s hard to not cross the line between editor and ghost writer. I also don’t want to erase a writer’s voice with my own, but I also don’t want to put my name on something as editor if it’s not that great. It’s a fine tightrope to walk.
The easiest part of being an editor is the work. It’s so easy to do something you love. I love to read. I love to write. So doing both of those and hopefully helping writers hone their craft along the way is rewarding. I never sit down at my computer groaning that I don’t want to edit a manuscript. That’s especially true with ECW because, although not fully knowing the history can be a pain, I’m always learning something new.
You raised a bit of a bru-ha-ha with The New York Times last year, didn’t you? Could you tell our readers about that?
Oh boy. That was a big mess.
In October of 2015, I wanted to apply for an internship at
The New York Times. There were two webpages up, and one said the deadline was Nov. 16. That was the one I saw, but on Nov. 1, I spoke with a columnist at the
Times, and he said “You know that deadline passed, right?” I was really confused, but then I found the webpage that had a deadline of Oct. 31. The columnist graciously put me in touch with Richard Jones, who coordinates the internship programs at the
Times and the Student Journalism Institute. Mr. Jones said he couldn’t allow me to submit because they had already begun reviewing the applications. I was disappointed, but then he invited me to come visit the
Times, go on a tour of the newsroom, and meet with him to review my resume and clips (journalism slang for articles). I was ecstatic.
When I got there, however, I was disappointed. I found that the
wasn’t really where I wanted to be. When I came back to St. Bonaventure, I was in an immersive classroom called TapInto Greater Olean, where students worked as reporters covering local municipalities. We were assigned to beats, and we covered them for the entire semester. My professor asked me to write an opinion piece reflecting on my visit to the
. It was the
on the site for months.
It was shared by quite a few big names who dubbed me an entitled brat Millennial. People condescendingly made fun of my “misspelling” of
. (There are
of the word, by the way.) However,
featured me three times throughout 2016 as a result of a column I wrote for class on a site reporting on a part of Western New York no one has ever heard of. I even got some not-so-nice phone calls from Bonaventure alumni. It was all a little ridiculous and surreal. The professors in the communications school at St. Bonaventure were more supportive of me than I could have asked for. When I interned at
The Buffalo News
, I received death threats via email for writing a poor review of Wiz Khalifa’s concert. But these attacks felt much more personal and it was a bit harder to laugh them off.
The whole experience taught me that people will always feel more comfortable saying terrible things behind a screen, and it’s harder to be on the receiving end of that than I imagined. A landmark of following your dreams and making waves is really pissing some people off. So I’ll continue to speak my mind and blaze my own trail, and I’ll probably piss more people off along the way. And I’m okay with that.
Here are the
articles, if anyone is interested (
Lightning Round—short answers:
Who’s the most overrated person of the Civil War era?
I think, in general, history gets noted as a man’s field. History has been recorded through the accounts and viewpoints of men. Often, women’s accounts get relegated to a single chapter or section of textbooks—or a single month of the year. The Civil War—like many other wars—wouldn’t have been what it was without women as nurses and spies. Women played important roles throughout history, and I think we should strive to tell their stories alongside men’s, rather than as an aside. This is a brief yet interesting
about women in the Civil War that I read recently.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned about the Civil War so far?
I’m always amazed at how far soldiers marched. It makes sense that people from Georgia would be fighting in the South, but they’re fighting Union soldiers from the North—that means people walked all the way from places like New York! I complain about the 17-hour car ride to Disney World from Buffalo.
Do you have a favorite battlefield?
Admittedly, I haven’t visited many, so my answer is going to be rather cliché. I really enjoyed Gettysburg. I went as a high school student, and I was fascinated by the battlefields, but honestly, my favorite part of my visit was the ghost tours.
What’s one Civil War book you would recommend as indispensable?
I have to admit I don’t read Civil War books for pleasure, but
Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz is fantastic. And whenever someone tells me they like to read about the Civil War, I always recommend ECW first!
What’s one question about the Civil War no one’s asked you but you wish they would?
I wish people would stop assuming because I edit Civil War and Rev War books that I actually know much about either of them! I’m learning slowly, but I’m not ready to give any tours!
is currently working on creating a new multimedia app for visitors to Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg. Similar in appearance to an Android device, the app will have an interactive map with audio, video, and manuscripts for the museum, plantation, and battlefield. Look for the app’s launch in June, and visit Pamplin Park to check out it!
ECW blog editor
has traded in her keyboard for clothes of yesteryear as she gets ready for the Moorpark Civil War Re-enactment in California. It's one of the largest events of the year for the western-region Civil War community. Sarah, along with her living history team, will help at education day, teaching around 800-1,000 eighth graders about life in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War. You can find more event information
has just had an article on the Battle of Mobile Bay posted online as part of the Essential Civil War Curriculum. You can read the work, published on March 11,
also sends this news from The Douglas MacArthur Memorial. On April 8, the Memorial will hold a WWI symposium and the opening of its next exhibit, called Over Here, Over There. The following day, April 9, the Memorial will have a program and exhibit unveiling related to the 75th Anniversary of Bataan's surrender and the beginning of the Bataan Death March. For more information on either of these events, Chris recommends checking out
the Memorial website
Jennifer Mackowski, ECW's editor in chief and chief financial officer, respectively, welcomed Maxwell James Mackowski to the family on Thursday, March 16. Max arrived at 1:01 a.m., weighing in at 5 pounds and 15 ounces and measuring 19.5 inches. A family member already bought him a onesie that says, "I was born into my own set of earthworks."
Nearly 400 museum professionals from across the Commonwealth of Virginia were present for the 2017 Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) annual conference in Roanoke, VA. Emerging Civil War was well represented by author
(who serves as the VAM Vice President) and ECW contributor
(now the Curator at the History Museum of Western Virginia). The annual conference brings together history, art, and science museums as well as historic sites, nature centers, and aquariums from across Virginia. The three-day conference focuses on best practices, educational techniques, leadership, and fundraising. Next year’s conference will be the 50th Anniversary of VAM and will be held in Norfolk, VA, on March 10-13, 2018. To learn more, visit
To Footnote or Not to Footnote—That is the Question
To be honest, we get a little flak at ECW because books in the Emerging Civil War Series don’t have footnotes/endnotes in them. It comes up time and time again in reviews.
We decided early on
not to include notes in the books, for two reasons.
We originally designed the books for members of the general public who visit a battlefield and think, “Hey, that was pretty cool. I wish I could grab something quick to read about it so I can learn more.” Those casual readers aren’t apt to drop $35 on a 400-page hardcover when all they really want is something that offers a good overview.
The format we follow for the ECWS is intended to be as reader-friendly as possible for that audience: a strong, clear narrative; tons of pictures; easy-to-read, original maps. As our research has confirmed, the average visitor who is wowed by the battlefield and wants something short and easy to read for more information isn’t concerned about footnotes. They want story, and they want human interest. In fact, many of those readers find footnotes intimidating as well as disruptive. “[F]ootnotes would have totally shattered what I was doing,” Shelby Foote once argued. “I didn’t want people glancing down at the bottom of the page every other sentence.” We felt the same way.
Everything about the ECWS books is designed with that primary audience in mind. We hope the books will hook readers and draw them into the story; then if they like, they can use the “suggested readings” in the back to find more in-depth resources as a next step.
However, it turned out that buffs love the books, too—and they’re the ones we most often hear complaints from about the lack of notes. We’ve tried to cater to those readers by adding notes online at the blog—a compromise that does not disrupt the reading experience for our primary audience. While it’s not the most convenient solution, anyone who
really wants the notes can get them fairly easily.
The online notes have an additional benefit for everyone: they help keep the cost of the books down. A typical batch of notes would eat up anywhere between 25-30 pages. We’d rather use that space to provide our primary audience with additional story, interesting appendices, and an order of battle (to help them keep track of who’s who and how everyone relates). Having that flexibility also lets us include as many maps as we do—a popular feature of the book.
Not all ECWS books are noted, but moving forward, we’ve asked all authors to note their work, so future volumes will all have them. A link to those notes appears at the end of each book's table of contents.
1st: Edward Alexander, Walking Tour of the Breakthrough Battlefield Commemorating 152nd Anniversary, Pamplin Historical Park, Petersburg, VA
7th: Dave Powell, “Chickamauga: Barren Victory?” Kenosha Civil War Museum, Kenosha, WI
7th – 9th: Chris Kolakowski, “MacArthur the Military Leader,” Chambersburg Seminar, Chambersburg, PA
10th: Sarah Kay Bierle, “To Save Lives: Civil War Medicine,” Temecula Valley Genealogy Society, Temecula, CA
11th: Dave Powell, “The Tullahoma Campaign,” McHenry County Civil War Roundtable, Woodstock, IL
13th: Phill Greenwalt, “A Nation Torn & A State Divided: Maryland in the First Two Years of the War,” Montgomery County Civil War Round Table, MD
20th: Chris Kolakowski, “Last Stand on Bataan,” National D-Day Memorial
20th: Chris Kolakowski “Echoes of Appomattox on Bataan,” Appomattox National Historical Society
22nd: Chris Mackowski, “Grant’s Closing Chapter in the West,” Liberty University Civil War Conference, Lynchburg, VA
27th: Dave Powell, “The Tullahoma Campaign,” Hagerstown Civil War Roundtable, Hagerstown, MD
30th: Chris Mackowski, Tour of Mine Run, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust