For more than two decades now, I’ve taken a special interest in Women’s History Month. Some people might consider that to be an unconventional choice for a guy, but as the father of a daughter, I felt a responsibility to make sure my little girl knew she could be anything she wanted to be when she grew up.
For a while, she even wanted to be Stonewall Jackson. And one of his most famous aphorisms has served as one of her own personal mottos: “You may be whatever you resolve to be.” She’s 24 now, and a police officer, and I’m feeling pretty good about her ability to make her own way in the world now, thanks to her own resolve.
But two decades of promoting female role models for her has left an indelible mark on me, as well.
While my daughter might no longer need those role models, other young women do, and I think that’s especially important in the field of Civil War history. Military history, in particular, is male dominated, as are many components of public history. So is the membership of many Civil War roundtables. (And look at the male-to-female ratio of ECW’s own line-up of authors, even.) I’m not saying that’s a bad thing—just a reality of the field.
But that’s why it’s still important to hold up female role models.
This year, I took time to talk with four women who work in various fields in Civil War history
- Elizabeth Heffernan, executive director of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (preservation)
- Caroline Janney, associate professor of history at Purdue University (academia)
- Mary Koik, editor of Hallowed Ground magazine (publishing)
- Emma Murphy, park guide at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site (NPS)
Those interviews offered a more in-depth way for me to follow up on profiles ECW ran last year, which we’d invite you to revisit if you’d like. Correspondent Emily Losito profiled:
- Krista Costella, education manager at Ft. Negley in Nashville
- Andrea DeKoter, chief of interpretation at Richmond National Battlefield
- Paige Gibbons-Backus, site supervisor for Ben Loman Historic Site in Prince William County, Virginia
- Kristen (Trout) Pawlak, former director of the Missouri Civil War Museum in St. Louis (Kristen has since moved on to the Civil War Trust)
- Beth Parnicza, historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, who’d been on detail at Harriet Tubman National Historic Site
I also want to invite you to look at some of the profile we’ve done of our own ECW contributors
- Sarah Kay Bierle, the managing editor of emergingcivilwar.com
- Caroline Davis, ECW blogger
- Hannah Gordon, managing editor of the Emerging Revolutionary War Series
- Meg Groeling, ECW blogger
- Jennifer Mackowski, ECW’s chief financial officer
- Julie Mujic, member of our “Engaging the Civil War” Series editorial board
Somewhere out there, I hope a little girl is wondering about the Civil War in the same way my own daughter did once upon a time—and that she has the chance to meet one of these outstanding women and see them as a role model.