Re: The Society of Civil War Historians
I too received the mailings from the new and improved Society of Civil War Historians and think it is really making some great strides forward as an organization. For what they are worth, I do have some questions regarding the decision to organize yet another academic conference.
One is a practical consideration. Doing a separate conference just on the Civil War makes it three academic conferences in 2008 for students of the Civil War and military history—the Southern Historical Association, Society for Military History, and SCWH. My institution only provides travel funds for one conference a year and for a variety of compelling reasons I have chosen the SMH. Consequently, I have only attended the SCWH annual dinner once in the past few years and then only because I was on the program at the Southern. Although one of the cheapest of skates myself, I can’t imagine I am the only one who, facing constraints on travel time and budgets, is wondering how they can work in yet another conference into their schedule.
It seems to me that it might be a better use of resources to instead sponsor sessions that are part of the overall program at the Southern, OAH, AHA, regional conferences, or, as was recently done, at the SMH. I see the virtue in creating more targets of opportunity for participation in an academic conference, but this could be done by sponsoring additional sessions at the aforementioned meetings. This would also create more opportunities for the interaction and advancing of the dialog between military historians and Civil War historians and the rest of the historical profession that Mark has written so much about. Moreover, it is not like there is a shortage of academic conferences. Within reasonable driving distance of Fort Leavenworth, for example, every year there is the Mid-America Conference on History, the Missouri Valley History Conference, an OAH regional meeting, and the Northern Great Plains History Conference, as well as meetings of the various state historical societies/associations.