The following outline describes a recent 2-week integrated arts program hosted at Keene, NH:
CIVIL WAR COMICS CAMP 2016: “The Wilcox Civil War Diary” [READ here >>]
Basic Description: Middle school students research & draw original comics based on local Civil War era primary sources (diary entries, letters, photographs, songs, etc.).
Hosted by: Historical Society of Cheshire County (Keene, NH)
When: 2 weeks (10 days) / August, 2016
Participants: ~20 middle & high school students from Cheshire County public schools
Made possible with support from:
- NH State Council on the Arts (Arts Education grant)
- National Historic Publication & Records Commission (National Archives) (“Citizen Archivist” grant)
- Keene State College
- Thomas Charters of Swanzey, NH
- explore & discuss specific details, topics, & themes of local & national Civil War history.
- read & transcribe historical documents (for archiving online).
- research & create original comics detailing the personal experiences of local participants in the Civil War.
- publish those comics in print & online for public readership.
- practice & perform Civil War era music on period instruments.
- participate in a reenactment of a Civil War encampment (including performance of songs, drill practice, etc.).
- Introduction to Civil War history
Introduction to comics creation
Students choose specific major events from an NPS.gov Civil War timeline, then research & draw 3-panel comic strips to present essential details of their event. Each student is responsible for finding & citing 3+ distinct sources (from classroom materials) to inform his/her comic strip. (Samples below)
ALL student comic strips combine into a single “CIVIL WAR COMICS” class booklet, which provides an original overview of the era, as drawn by the group. (Each student receives a copy to use as general reference for the rest of the course.)
- Introduction to primary source materials & HSCC collections
Students preview selections from the Civil War diary & letters of Charles W. Wilcox, the History of the 9th Regiment NH Volunteers, and other sources. The group identifies topics and entries of interest in these materials, and discusses strengths and weaknesses of such sources in historical research & artistic interpretation. (Scroll down to see WILCOX RESOURCES below…)
- Transcription of Primary Sources
Students learn the basics of historical transcription, with attention to documentation, 19th century cursive handwriting, abbreviation, and other challenges. Students then try their hands at transcribing previously untranscribed materials (letters and diary entries).
- Comics adaptations of primary sources
Students select passages from Wilcox’s diary (or related sources) and interpret them in comics format, researching and incorporating specific textual or visual sources as needed. (1-4 pages per student)
Read student comics here >>
- Civil War music
Students learn rally songs and tunes from the period and events described in the source materials, guided by the Civil War folk music group The Hardtacks.
- Civil War Field Trip
To provide more spatial context for our studies, students visit local sites of interest related to local Civil War history, sharing stories and singing songs at veterans’ gravesites and other memorials.
- Civil War encampment
During an encampment by reenactors from the 6th NH Volunteers (Co. E), students have the opportunity to try out clothes, equipment, and camp activities, and to sketch specific scenes and actions in real life.
- Presentation of Comics
Students present their finished comics projects to family, friends, and community members in a culminating event featuring dramatic readings and performances of period songs on period instruments.
For more about this camp, see the Keene Sentinel’s front page article:
“At Civil War camp, children draw on local history”
(Isaac Stein, The Keene Sentinel, 18 August 2016) >>
Charles W. Wilcox Papers @ commons.Keene.edu
- The Diary of Charles W. Wilcox (January 31, 1864 – April 1, 1865)
- Letters of Charles W. Wilcox [view transcribed letters >>]
- ALSO ESSENTIAL READING:
History of the Ninth Regiment NH Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion. (1895)
(esp.Wilcox’s anecdotes (see p.354), Chapter XI: The Wilderness and Spottsylvania Courthouse, and Wilcox’s account in Chapter XVII: Prisoners of War…)
- MAP: “Colton’s map of the southern states…” (1861)
- MAP: “Johnson’s Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland” (c.1862?)
- MAP: “Kentucky and Tennessee” (1862)
- MAP: “Lloyd’s official map of the State of Kentucky…” (1862)
- Harper’s Weekly Map of the South (1864)
- Civil War Timeline (NPS.gov)
- Harper’s Weekly Original Civil War Newspapers (SonOfTheSouth.net)
- Battle of Spottsylvania Courthouse (wikipedia)
IMAGES OF KEENE: