My Favorite Historical Person: Who’s On The Blog Header?

A logo is supposed to “brand” whatever it represents. A logo is supposed to tell something about that item, company, or institution at first glance. While some might consider it a stretch to say a two week blog series needs an official logo, the header adorning the top of every post in the series has to tell the reader something about the series’ content at first glance. (I’ve taken a job as a digital marketing specialist, but maybe I should stop talking like one for the moment?)

What I’m trying to say: designing series blog headers is a lot of fun, and some extra thought went into this one. I realized not all our readers may be familiar with the historical people on the header, and this blog post will share some brief explanations.

By the time I looked at the calendar and realized it was time to prepare the blog series’ header, I already had received several post drafts from our writers and had a list of other historical figures who would be written about in the next weeks. Looking at those lists, I realized something unique had happened. I’d expected the series to turn into a mini-war over everyone’s favorite general. Actually everything was very civil (pun intended). Most writers had chosen lesser-known heroes – a few of them I’d never heard of before! Far different from my expectations and a truly delightful surprise to this assistant editor.

With these hints at the direction of the series, I knew I couldn’t put Grant and Lee on the blog header, but I didn’t want to pull photos of unknown named soldiers or civilians from Library of Congress. Looking through my photo files, I chose Henry Adams and Anna Jackson; their photos are on the the blog header.

Henry Adams

Henry Adams – great-grandson of President John Adams, young Henry Adams had graduated from Harvard University in 1858, toured Europe prior to the Civil War, served as secretary for his father, and wrote anonymous reports for a Boston newspaper prior to the Civil War. His father, Charles F. Adams, served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1861. Henry accompanied his father to London and spent the war years keeping an eye on shipyards where blockade runners were built, helping keep the peace between England and the Union, and writing detailed letters to his siblings at home. After the war ended, Henry returned to the United States, began a career as a journalist, later taught medieval history at Harvard, and wrote and taught about early American History.

Why is Henry Adams on the blog header? Through his letters, he offers historians detailed and unique perspectives on diplomatic situations during the war. Though he didn’t serve as a soldier, he devoted his work to the Union cause and agonized over the fate of the country.

Mary Anna Jackson

Mary Anna Jackson – wife of General “Stonewall” Jackson, Anna Jackson spent the war years at her family home in North Caroline, at her general’s request. She traveled to visit her husband on a couple occasions, seeing First Manassas battlefield, spending the winter of 1861-1862 in Winchester, Virginia, and bringing her infant daughter for an April visit in 1863. After General Jackson was wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville, Anna returned to Guinea Station and stayed with her husband until his death. She attended the funerals, then took her daughter and returned to her family. In the years following the war, she encouraged books and accounts about her husband’s life and even wrote her own memories.

Why is Mary Anna Jackson on the blog header? Though married to a famous Confederate general, her adventures, correspondence, loss, and trying to deal with the post-war world reflect aspects of civilian experiences during the Civil War.

I enjoyed designing this blog header. The writers have challenged us to look beyond stars on the uniform collars or shoulders. Perhaps the blog header will reflect the opportunity to find some lesser-known historical figures and admire their dedication and patriotism on the battlefield, diplomatic field, or homefront.

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