Emerging Civil War Names Cecily Zander to Serve as Chief Historian

Cecily Nelson Zander

Emerging Civil War has selected Cecily N. Zander, Ph.D., to serve as the organization’s new chief historian. Zander becomes the first woman, and fourth person overall, to serve in the role since the organization’s founding in August 2011.

“Cecily is an absolute rock star as an emerging voice in the field,” says ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski. “She has a deep historical background informed by time in academe and a commitment to public history. She loves the Civil War and loves to help other people fall in love with it, too.”

Zander joined Emerging Civil War in 2020, first serving on the editorial board for the Engaging the Civil War Series published by Southern Illinois University Press. She began blogging for ECW shortly thereafter.

“I was delighted to find a community of public-facing scholars and readers eager to engage with every Civil War topic under the sun,” she says. “People are engaging with history in entirely new ways and for entirely new reasons, so it’s an exciting time to be in a position where I can encourage those interactions. I really believe the future of history will have to have a strong public history component.”

Zander says she has been heavily influenced by her mentors, William Blair at Penn State and Gary Gallagher at the University of Virginia. “One of my hopes as chief historian is to follow their example of being compelling writers, gifted teachers, and enthusiastic public historians,” Zander says.

ECW’s chief historian oversees the quality control of the ECW’s historical content. That includes content on the blog as well as content in ECW’s various publication projects, including the Emerging Civil War book series and the ECW YouTube channel.

Zander grew up in northern Colorado, where she spent her childhood visiting army forts and historic sites across the American West. She attended the University of Virginia, graduating with Highest Distinction in 2015. She then made her way north from Charlottesville to Happy Valley, where she spent six years completing a master’s degree (2017) and PhD (2021) at the Pennsylvania State University. Since 2021, she has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, where she has completed the manuscript for her first book Republican and Regulars: Anti-Army Politics in the Civil War Era (under contract with Louisiana State University Press).

When she is not writing or thinking about the Civil War, she can be found cheering on her favorite sports teams, watching classic movies, listening to Lyle Lovett, or walking with Moe the Border Collie.

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Emerging Civil War is the collaborative effort of more than thirty historians committed to sharing the story of the Civil War in an accessible way. Founded in 2011 by Chris Mackowski, Jake Struhelka, and Kristopher D. White, Emerging Civil War features public and academic historians of diverse backgrounds and interests, while also providing a platform for emerging voices in the field. Initiatives include the award-winning Emerging Civil War Series of books published by Savas Beatie, LLC; an annual symposium; a speakers bureau; and a daily blog: www.emergingcivilwar.com.

Emerging Civil War is recognized by the I.R.S. as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation.

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