Editorial Assistant Vacancy — Closes Feb. 8, 2019

The Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) seeks an Editorial Assistant to join the staff of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWGK). This nationally recognized digital humanities project that locates and publishes new stories about everyday Kentuckians navigating an unprecedented national and community crisis through documents associated with the state’s Civil War governors.

This NHPRC-funded position will edit texts and annotations. It is based in Frankfort through the end of 2019. Natalie Smith, who held the position for 2018, talked about her experience on a recent “Think Humanities” podcast.

View the Full Description here, at the KHS Careers page

Application deadline is Feb. 8, 2019.

CWGK Profiled in Hallowed Ground

Hallowed Ground, the magazine of the American Battlefield Trust, profiled CWGK in its Winter 2018 issue.

digital version of the piece can be read here.

The project has proven a treasure trove for researchers, whether traditional academics or amateur genealogists. It has also become a rich resource for students and classroom educators, providing a massive selection of primary source documents representing a diverse range of attitudes and experiences in a user-friendly format.

“History has too few characters. We don’t know enough names. We don’t know enough stories. This limits what we can say about the past,” said Lewis. “The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition proposes a bold new solution to this problem. We find the characters, hidden in archives across the country. We publish their stories in the form of 30–40,000 historical documents. And we treat every individual — man or woman, free or slave, Union and Confederate — as an historical actor worthy of study.…This is the closest thing we can get to a time machine.”

Natalie Smith “Think Humanities” Interview

NHPRC-funded Editorial Assistant Natalie Smith’s time with CWGK drew to a close with the end of the grant year in 2018. Before then, though, Smith sat down for an interview with the “Think Humanities” podcast produced by the Kentucky Humanities Council.

Listen below to hear Smith discuss the compelling and revealing human stories that CWGK highlights and to hear her enthusiasm for the work of public humanities in the Commonwealth today. Thank you, Natalie!

“Without Warrant or Law”: Political Detentions in the Civil War Part 1

On the afternoon of July 18, 1862, Newport, Kentucky, attorney James Russell Hallam was arrested at his home by the city’s provost marshal and “a large body of armed regular soldiers.”[1] When he demanded to know the charges against him, Hallam later recounted, the provost marshal refused to tell. Hallam was taken under guard to the U.S. Barracks at Newport and held overnight. The next morning he and several other Kentucky citizens were sent to Camp Chase prison in Columbus, Ohio, where Hallam wrote to Kentucky Governor James Robinson that he had been “closely confined ever since & deprived of my liberty.”[2] Writing a month after his arrest, Hallam also reported what he had learned from the post commander about the cause of his imprisonment: He was “charged in general terms with disloyalty, to the United States Government” but, by Hallam’s account, “no specific act or word of disloyalty” had been named against him.[3]

Amid the crisis of civil war, Kentucky civilians like Hallam became political prisoners, arrested—often on vague allegations of disloyalty—and imprisoned without ever being legally charged with a crime. Political detentions, which occurred mostly in border states, were meant to be preventative and usually did not lead to criminal prosecutions. Once a person was in custody, an investigation determined whether sufficient evidence of disloyalty existed to merit further incarceration; if it did not, the prisoner could be released, usually on condition of taking a loyalty oath.[4] Ideologically speaking, “disloyalty” was not strictly limited to overt support for the Confederacy but could encompass opposition to various facets Union war policy.[5] The imprisonment of Hallam and dozens of other political prisoners who petitioned the Kentucky governor from Camp Chase in the summer of 1862 reflected a deeply flawed system of identifying dissidents, one that threatened to worsen an already tenuous political situation in Kentucky.

In August 1862, a total of 130 Kentucky citizens signed two petitions—one generated in each of two prison barracks at Camp Chase—declaring they had been wrongfully incarcerated and asking the assistance of the Kentucky governor. Both petitions argued the illegality of the arrests and the denial of due process to which the signers had been subjected. The petition from Prison No. 2 was dated August 6 and addressed to Beriah Magoffin, who would soon resign his office. Ninety-three inmates of Prison No. 2 asserted that they were taken to Camp Chase “by the force of arms, against our will and consent, in violation of the laws of Kentucky and the laws of the United States.”[6] They declared they had been arrested “without warrant or law” and noted that many had “been in confinement for a long time, with no hope of being released or having any hearing before any tribunal.”[7] They insisted that they were “law-abiding citizens of Kentucky and the United States,” that they had “not violated the laws of either,” and that their imprisonment was “unjust, both in law and in the eyes of God and man.”[8] The prisoners hoped the Kentucky legislature would “take speedy action” to assist them and “not allow her sons to rot in prison, without charge or crime of any kind.”[9] On August 19, 1862, thirty-seven prisoners from various parts of Kentucky who were incarcerated in Camp Chase Prison No. 1 similarly declared that they had been arrested “without warrant and without legal authority, in violation of law and their civil and legal rights, & forced out of the State of Ky.”[10] The petitioners insisted that they were “unlawfully held” at Camp Chase, and that they had “always been law, abiding citizens of the State of Ky, and [had] never committed an act of disloyalty against that State or the United States.” Yet they claimed they had been told by a prison official that they could “only regain our liberty by proof establishing our innocence — a principle unprecedented and unknown to the law.”[11]

Historian Stephen C. Neff identifies August and September of 1862 as having the highest rates of political arrests during the Civil War. This time frame coincided with the first efforts toward conscription, the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and the first national suspension of habeas corpus. Martial law measures were also adopted that allowed detention for interfering with Union enlistments and for the highly subjective offence of “disloyal practices,” which generated what Neff describes as a “veritable orgy of detentions.”[12] Camp Chase records suggest detentions in Kentucky began to escalate slightly earlier, in July 1862.  James R. Hallam was one of 28 Kentucky citizens and 7 Newport residents who arrived at Camp Chase from the Newport Barracks on July 19. On July 22, the prison received another 25 residents of Newport or Campbell County. For the entire month of July, the prison received 153 civilian prisoners from Kentucky, only 21 of whom arrived before July 15. In August, 50 prisoners arrived from Kentucky; in September, the number fell to 40.[13]

The orders of General Jeremiah T. Boyle demanding that certain categories of Kentucky citizens report to provost marshals to take loyalty oaths, coupled with a heightened military threat in the summer of 1862, precipitated the spike in citizen arrests. Boyle prefaced his June 19 directive with the statement that “peaceful and law-abiding citizens and residents of the State must be protected in their persons, property, and rights.” But anyone who had joined the Confederate forces, given them assistance, or crossed their lines without the proper permissions and since returned were ordered to appear before provost marshals in Louisville, Bowling Green, Lexington, or Paducah. These citizens were then required to “furnish evidence of… repentance, and take the oath of allegiance, and give bonds and security for their future good conduct.” Persons who failed to report would be “arrested and committed to the military prison at Louisville, and sent thence to Camp Chase” with a written record of the charges against them. There, they would wait for further action by the Secretary of War. Boyle also instructed that “In times of trouble like these, good, law-abiding men will refrain from language and conduct that excite to rebellion.” Allowing a wide latitude for interpretation, he prescribed arrest for “anything said or done with the intent to excite to rebellion.”[14]

A confluence of military events also accounted for an increase in arrests, particularly in northern Kentucky, where Campbell County provost marshal Henry C. Gassaway proved highly effective in identifying and removing potential disloyal persons. On July 18, the day James Hallam was arrested, and in the days following, Gassaway executed what might be considered mass arrests of suspected disloyal persons. When he was later called upon to defend his actions, he insisted he was acting on Boyle’s orders in the midst of a military emergency. Two days before the arrests, Georgetown had been captured; a day after that, the battle of Cynthiana had been fought. On the 18th, Paris had been captured by John Hunt Morgan. According to reports in Newport, Morgan had 3,000 troops and was coordinating with General Marshal, who was advancing with his own large force from the eastern part of the state. At the same time, Kirby Smith was moving in from the south, and, as Gassaway recalled, he “very soon thereafter drove our lines back to within four miles of Cincinnati.” The situation in Newport was growing dire. On the day of the arrests, by Gassaway’s account, the telegraph wires were cut, the railroad captured, and “rebel Scouts were threatening the southern line of the County.”[15] As Gassaway recalled,

The Commandant of the Post and the Barracks ordered their officers to prepare for an immediate attack and sent out Scouts and pickets along every approach to the City. A few days previously the guns in the fortifications around the hills of the city had been spiked and dismounted. The defences around the city were weak, and the union soldiers few and undisciplined. It was important that our true condition of Weakness should be Kept from the Knowledge of the Enemy. A large number of the fighting Union men of the Vicinity had been sent to the defense of the interior. 75 Home Guards of New Port were in the battle of Cynthiana, and on the morning of the 18th news came that they had met with defeat and disaster which added much to the Excitement and alarm of the people.[16]

In June, Henry Gassaway had received the circular containing Boyle’s orders about how to deal with suspected disloyalty. It included a letter from John Boyle, the Assistant Adjutant General, who advised Gassaway to “arrest and send to Camp Chase a few of the most violent and rabid secessionists.” [17]  Gassaway was told to send a report to headquarters, and the matter would be settled. During the crisis in July, Gassaway telegraphed General Boyle asking if he should make arrests of “persons then considered dangerous.” The answer he said he received was, “‘arrest them certainly.’”[18]

Apprehended in the roundup of “dangerous” citizens was Hubbard D. Helm, the former sheriff and current master commissioner of the Campbell County Chancery Court.[19] It was not Helm’s first arrest. With one brother in the Confederate army and another described as a “rebel agent abroad,” Helm had been arrested in November 1861. As reported in a memo compiled from records of the State Department, which had authority over political arrests at the time, Helm was accused of expressing the “strongest secession sentiments” and the hope that “Union troops on their way to the interior of Kentucky would never return alive.”[20] Since that incident, Helm had not tempered his public comments. An affidavit sworn by an acquaintance of Helm’s in July 1862 claimed that Helm had been overheard talking with some men when news was reported that Fort Donelson had been captured. According to the witness’s statement, Helm replied that the news was “a damed lie and that any man that took that up was a liar and a sun of [a] Bitch.” When subsequent news was received of the defeat of Union troops, the witness reported, Helm seemed “Elated and Gratified.” Helm’s frequently observed “manner and conduct,” the witness concluded, “Showed that he was the enemy of the Government and that he desired the Success of the Southern Confederacy.”[21]

Another name on the Prison No. 2 petition was Robert Maddox. The same memo that shows Helm’s prior arrest also shows that one Robert Maddox was arrested on the same day as Helm in November 1861 for making statements similar to Helm’s. On July 3, 1862, Henry Gassaway wrote General J. T. Boyle that Robert Maddox “is a man of meanse and has great influence with his money particularly in this neighborhood and uses it freely to effect his end.” Gassaway considered Maddox “a dangerous man to our Government” and suggested if he were “held for some time it will do much good in quelling outbursts among the Rebels in this County.”[22] The four affidavits Gassaway sent to support the case against Maddox were not filed with his letter, so it is not known upon what evidence he based his conclusions. The 1860 census for Campbell County shows three Robert Maddoxes, who in 1862 would have been 18, 46, and 50 years old, but none match the 43-year-old Maddox who, prison records show, was arrested on July 1, 1862.[23] Although it is uncertain if that was the same Robert Maddox who was earlier accused of volubly wishing the deaths of Union troops, both arrests illustrate the kind of opposition the U.S. forces encountered from the Kentucky citizenry and the perceived offenses that were thought to justify political detention.

Also among the people detained in July 1862 was Thomas L. Jones, a Newport attorney and politician who did not petition the Kentucky governor. In a sworn affidavit, William H. Wagner attested that he heard Jones make two political speeches and described one in which Jones declared that his father’s remains were in South Carolina, that his interests and sympathies were with the South, that he would arm his two sons—who were about ten and twelve years old at the time—with revolvers and “put them on his father’s Grave,” and that Jones would “take a Sword and fight the for the South.” When Wagner next met Jones, he questioned him about these remarks, saying he thought Jones was a Union man.  According to Wagner, “He [Jones] said I am a union man, but he said our rights have been trampled on and I am ready at any time to fight against any Black Republican Government.”[24] The comments reported by Wagner are a reminder that in Kentucky, a citizen’s allegiance could be a complex proposition, at times a shocking blend of Union ardor and virulent racism or a fidelity strained by passionate disagreements with Union war policy.

Christina K. Adkins has a PhD in American Studies and works as a volunteer on the CWGK Team. Her work focuses on slavery and cultural memory.

Check back with CWGK every Monday in January to read a new editions to Political Detentions in the Civil War.  Continue reading

2019 Graduate Research Associates

Overview: The Kentucky Historical Society seeks two Graduate Research Associates (GRAs) familiar with 19th century United States history to write short informational entries for the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWGK). GRAs will receive a stipend of $5,000 each and can work remotely from their home institutions.

Each GRA will annotate 150 assigned documents. Each GRA must be a graduate student in at least the second year of a M.A. program in history or a related humanities discipline. These positions are funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a branch of the National Archives. This continues a successful two-year program that has involved 10 GRAs

CWGK is an annotated, searchable, and freely-accessible online edition of documents associated with the chief executives of the commonwealth, 1860-1865. Yet CWGK is not solely about the five governors; it is about reconstructing the lost lives and voices of tens of thousands of Kentuckians who interacted with the office of the governor during the war years. CWGK will identify, research, and link together every person, place, and organization found in its documents. This web of hundreds of thousands of networked nodes will dramatically expand the number of actors in Kentucky and U.S. history, show scholars new patterns and hidden relationships, and recognize the humanity and agency of historically marginalized people. To see the project’s work to date, visit discovery.civilwargovernors.org.

Scope of Work: Each GRA will be responsible for researching and writing short entries on named persons, places, organizations, and geographical features in 150 documents. Each document contains an average of fifteen such entities. This work will be completed and submitted to CWGK for fact-checking before December 1, 2019.

Research and writing will proceed according to project guidelines concerning research sources and methods, editorial information desired, and adherence to house style. This will ensure 1) that due diligence is done to the research of each entity and 2) that information is recorded for each item in uniform ways which are easy to encode and search.

All research for the entries must be based in primary or credible secondary sources, and each GRA is expected to keep a virtual research file with notes and digital images of documents related to each entry. These will be examined regularly by the CWGK team as they fact check the GRA output and turned over to CWGK at the completion of the work. CWGK will fact-check all entries for research quality and adherence to house style. CWGK projects an average rate of one document annotated per two hours of work. Each GRA may expect their workload to be similar to adding on another class for the semester. They should expect to complete an average of 4 to 5 documents per week, though this may vary.

Each GRA will work remotely. Interaction with the documents and the writing of annotations will take place in a web-based annotation tool developed for CWGK, which can be dialed into from any location. CWGK will make use of online research databases to make its work efficient and uniform. Other archival sources may be of value but are not required by the research guidelines. Securing access to the paid databases required by CWGK (Ancestry.com, Fold3.com, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Louisville Courier Journal) is the responsibility of the GRA. If regular institutional access to these databases is not available to the GRA through a university or library, it is the responsibility of the GRA to purchase and use a subscription to these databases. KHS will not reimburse the GRA for any travel, copying, or other expenses incurred in CWGK research.

In order to maintain quality and consistency as well as to foster a collegial and collaborative work culture, CWGK will conduct weekly virtual “office hours” via Google Hangouts, during which GRAs are required to dial in, ask questions of staff, share expertise and research methods, and make connections with their peers. Virtual attendance at these office hours is mandatory, and multiple sessions may be offered to accommodate schedules.

The Kentucky Historical Society will hold copyright for all annotation research as work for hire.

Evaluation Criteria: A proposal should consist of at least a narrative statement of professional ability in the form of a cover letter, a CV, and two letters of recommendation. Additional supplementary materials that demonstrate capacity in the evaluation factors may also be included.

Proposal materials should be submitted to Patrick Lewis at patrick.lewis@ky.gov by no later than February 4, 2019. Any questions about the GRA program may be directed to Lewis as well.

The Kentucky Historical Society will evaluate the proposals based on the following factors:

Research Experience (70 points): Describe your familiarity with research in 19th century U.S. history. Describe some projects you have undertaken. What sources have you used? Have you been published? Have you interpreted historical research in forms other than a scholarly peer-reviewed publication? Discuss how a digital archival experience differs from your traditional archival experience.

Project Experience (30 points): Describe any work you have done in the editing of historical documents. Discuss how a project such as CWGK maintains balance between thorough research and production schedules. Have you worked on other collaborative projects in the field of history or otherwise? Describe the importance of time management and deadlines in your work. Describe your understanding of and/or experience with the Digital Humanities. From what you know of the CWGK project, how does it fit with current trends in the field? What do you hope to gain from working on the CWGK project?

CWGK in 2019: Hunting for Confederate Kentucky

The Problem

For as much work as CWGK has done to highlight the voices of the socially powerless, an equally important component of the project will be finding more and better documentation on the influential Confederate minority in the state. Curiously, for as heavily weighted as Civil War memory and, until recently, historiography has been towards the Confederacy, there is still a dearth of contemporary evidence from the pens of those engaged in rebellion against the state and the nation. Unlike the states which unambiguously seceded and brought with them their administrative apparatus, Kentucky Confederates (civil and military) were figureheads focused more on revolution than governing. They left little surviving paper.

The place of 1860s primary evidence has been taken by memoir, reminiscence, and Lost Cause-influenced history writing of the late nineteenth century. Recent historiography has made scholars wary of these flawed sources, but outside of them there has been terribly little with which to mount a substantial reevaluation of the Confederate movement in Kentucky. In the absence of a compelling new narrative that shows the detachment of secessionist motivations and activities from the interests of the majority of Kentucky citizens, myths about a nostalgic Confederate past still linger in the public sphere. KHS can facilitate the research, publications, and public programming that can change this narrative, but CWGK’s work is the foundational step.

CWGK can do some of this through existing documents within its corpus. Sometimes the evidence is direct, like the bullet points of a secession speech by future provisional Confederate governor George W. Johnson, which reveals the often extemporaneous and unreported content of arguments framed to voters on the ground.  Some unexpected treasures have been a body of asides and postscripts found in routine correspondence between the governors and their constituents. One Magoffin correspondent, John D. Berry, expanded on a pardon application for a friend with useful opposition research on Union arguments advanced at a debate in bitterly divided Bath County. CWGK also hopes to find more Confederate material in its expanded document search. KHS recently acquired one piece of correspondence from Johnson, which suggests the type of evidence that might be found in Richmond and the other Confederate state capitals.

As the documents from a bizarre 1861 secessionist plot to procure arms show, understanding the Confederate movement in Kentucky is about far more than politics. The networks of Bluegrass bankers, pork packers, cotton factors, a quack doctor with a penchant for biological warfare, fire-eating railroad barons, sugar-planting politicians, and Transatlantic shipping outfits which Beriah Magoffin employed in his efforts to buy weapons in the Caribbean and illicitly arm a disloyal faction of Kentucky militia read like something between a Mark Twain story and the recent scholarship of Joshua Rothman or Walter Johnson.

Among the many things we may conclude from the farcical attempts to launder $200,000 to purchase $15 worth of percussion caps through a bourbon-fueled French Quarter haze and a Jacksonian banking fiasco is that CWGK’s social networking capabilities are perfectly suited to chart and study the types of kinship-political-business relationships that underlay antebellum cotton capitalism and interpersonal early American politics. A historian might now safely posit that Kentucky’s 1861 neutrality was not an inward facing, isolationist political posture. The way Magoffin managed arms procurement demonstrates that he understood the Civil War as a conflict over global agricultural and industrial markets, a war fought for the interests of the southern states in and on an international stage. When Magoffin needed arms, he tapped into the networks that funneled cotton, slaves, and capital up and down the river from Kentucky and out to the world.

If this type of evidence is to be found at a scale that can influence historiography, it will likely be uncovered through scouring the captured Confederate records within NARA and the Library of Congress for interactions between Kentucky rebel officials and the Confederate national government. This is where CWGK will begin moving in 2019.

The Plan

In 2018, CWGK began initial explorations of in-scope material from the Governors and the Provisional Confederate Governors held by federal repositories in the Washington D.C. area. Specifically, CWGK was to explore NARA microfilm to test the viability of a hybrid search that would conduct initial identification and imaging by microfilm in Frankfort and then sending an imaging team to the D.C. area in the future to acquire high-resolution images suitable for publication.

Obviously, there is a huge volume of material to search through, and any number of potential approaches. CWGK settled on two criteria for beginning document identification work: the likelihood of return and the remote availability of materials. To assess the former, CWGK surveyed NARA finding aids and the Federal Records Guide for likely overlap with existing CWGK materials and correspondents. CWGK Assistant Editor Tony Curtis surveyed 584 record groups and identified 65 that might have material relevant to CWGK. Of that 65, he applied his knowledge of CWGK’s existing scope to narrow down to 22 record groups most likely to contain relevant material. They are:

  • RG# 46 – Records of the U.S. Senate
  • RG# 48 – Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior
  • RG# 56 – General Records of the Department of the Treasury
  • RG# 92 – Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General [OQMG]
  • RG# 94 – Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780s-1917 [AGO]
  • RG# 105 – Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
  • RG# 107 – Records of the Office of the Secretary of War
  • RG# 108 – Records of the Headquarters of the Army
  • RG# 109 – War Department Collection of Confederate Records
  • RG# 110 – Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War)
  • RG# 153 – Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Army)
  • RG# 156 – Records of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance
  • RG# 159 – Records of the Office of the Inspector General (Army)
  • RG# 204 – Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney
  • RG# 233 – Records of the United States House of Representatives
  • RG# 249 – Records of the Commissary General of Prisoners
  • RG# 365 – Treasury Department Collection of Confederate Records
  • RG# 366 – Records of Civil War Special Agencies of the Treasury Department
  • RG# 391 – Records of United States Regular Army Mobile Units, 1821-1942
  • RG# 393 – Records of United States Army Continental Commands, 1821-1920
  • RG# 404 – Records of the United States Military Academy
  • RG# 405 – Records of the U.S. Naval Academy

Then CWGK began to filter those targeted record groups by remote availability. Early in 2018, CWGK processed 27 shipping boxes containing over 1,600 rolls of NARA microfilm shipped to KHS from the NHPRC lending library. Unfortunately, as CWGK explored these materials, the staff the NARA Microfilm publications do not easily correspond to the record group system. Each publication is a curated assemblage of thematically related records from one or more record groups or subgroups. Except in certain limited cases, CWGK is skeptical of the practicality of microfilm as a substitute for an on-site search team. Searching a given microfilm publication or publications does not guarantee an exhaustive search of the corresponding record groups or sections of record groups.

CWGK intended to focus its initial efforts on Confederate records in RGs 109 and 365 to bolster the scarce documentation that the project has on the operations of the Provisional Government of Kentucky during and especially after the death of George W. Johnson. The initial target in federal records was to have been RG 48, the Department of the Interior. Unfortunately, the microfilm available on-site from the NHPRC lending library had very little coverage in these record groups. The most promising publication was M627 Letters and Telegrams Sent by the Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General 1861-1865. Initial explorations of this publication, though, suggested that CWGK needed a much more detailed picture of the bureaucratic interactions between the Confederate government in Richmond and the Provisional Confederate Government of Kentucky to make searching this publication valuable at the present time.

Still wanting to identify records relating to the poorly understood rebel government of Kentucky (in no small part to better prepare CWGK to tackle series like M627), CWGK turned to another microfilm collection on hand, M1003 Case files of Applications from Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons (Amnesty Papers) 1865-1867. This microfilm series is divided by state of residence for the rebel applicant, so there will be a discreet Kentucky section to allow for more targeted searching. More importantly the digitization of these materials by Fold3 has previewed the research value of these documents—and their overlap with the scope of CWGK. Simply put, the Unionist political elite in Kentucky vouched for the ex-Confederate political elite in the form of letters of recommendation to Andrew Johnson. Thomas E. Bramlette, James F. Robinson, and other figures who emerge as hyper-networked political movers and shakers in the published CWGK material from Kentucky repositories explain their relationships to those officers, politicians, and wealthy planters who led the Confederate movement in Kentucky. Those same ex-rebels are required to give short summary statements of the crimes they committed against the United States during those years. This is an ideal collection to convert CWGK’s knowledge of the loyal political constellation into a chart that will help explore the Kentucky Confederate shadow government in Bowling Green, in exile, and in Richmond.

M1003 has already been digitized by Fold3. This is ideal for CWGK. It will allow the project to test two different modes of remote document identification, metadata collection, and imaging for initial editorial work. CWGK will alternate letters of the alphabet (petitions are filed by surname of pardon applicant) between microfilm identification, control, and imaging and digital identification using Fold3. CWGK will capture data on the time per record identified and imaged using the two methods and report on the potential for more widespread digital microfilm searching. CWGK will also reach out to explore the potential of data and image sharing between CWGK and Fold3.

These methods could also be applied the Confederate records held by the Library of Congress. LoC has digitized significant amounts of Confederate microfilm, which CWGK will more thoroughly explore and sort into priority targets for document identification work after the NARA Amnesty Papers are complete.

These NARA and LoC documents will immediately be put into the editorial queue for transcription and fast-tracked for publication, though this may still be a few years away. Still, CWGK will begin to amass a more detailed picture of secessionist Kentucky, and can begin to point researchers in the direction of overlooked subjects and unasked questions before these documents go live.

CWGK Best of 2018

The Best of 2018

2018 was an eventful year for CWGK. Numerous teachers, students, researchers, fellows have accessed and utilized the database. 2018 also saw the publication of our 1,000th document. We also started #MondayMystery on social media to help our team discover more Kentuckians.

To recap our year, we’ve organized a series of “Best of” lists that chronicle everything from our individual takes on the most Tragic Case (deaths) in Civil War Kentucky to the one place we would like to travel back to. We hope you’ll enjoy reading these lists these as much as we enjoyed creating them

1.) MOST TRAGIC CASE: The database does not lack unusual and/or gruesome deaths. Each editor has selected the most memorable demise so we asked the CWGK Team to determine the most tragic case in the Archive.

Natalie: While taking refuge for the night in a church, a sleeping man was bludgeoned to death and robbed of the six dollars in his possession. The accused were two men whom the victim had met at a turnpike only one mile from his place of rest. As the three men had traveled together to the church, the victim was evidently unaware that he had anything to fear. To make matters even worse, his body wasn’t discovered until 17 days after the murder had taken place. “I consider this the most aggravated, cold blooded and unprovoked murder I ever heard of,” wrote C. D. Shean, asking that a reward be offered for the capture of the accused men. (KYR-0001-005-0009)

Emily: Thomas Edrington while in a fit from severe alcohol deprivation murdered his wife. He suffered from a severe form of Alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens. In a petition to Governor Thomas E. Bramlette in 1863, he asked for executive clemency from the verdict of manslaughter based on the defense of insanity. “It like to Broke my poor heart to think of sutch A thing as that to loose my nearest and dearest friend whitch those that knowed us has often said they never seen A more happyer Couple in there life than we were we never had anny Malice towards each other” stated Edrington, in his plea to be released from the verdict and state prison. (KYR-0001-004-0160)

Graduate Research Assistant: Taylor County brothers Merritt and Vardiman Dicken, about 23 and 21 years-old respectively, were both shot and killed in early December 1864 while searching for their stolen mule. They first encountered trouble at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Rinehart in Marion County. Two strangers arrived there on horse and pretended to act as their guides until shooting them both with pistols. The wounded brothers escaped and came upon Michael Foley, a railroad worker and Union Army veteran, who mistook the Dickens for Confederate guerillas and attempted to arrest them. Merritt Dicken refused to surrender and, as he attempted to escape, Foley shot and killed him. Vardiman Dicken died of his wound days later. Governor Thomas E. Bramlette pardoned Foley of his murder charge, believing that he made an “honest mistake” and stated, “No man who kills a guerilla should suffer if I can prevent it.” (KYR-0001-004-1380)

2.) MOST MEMORABLE NAMES: Our editors have compiled a list of the Top 5 most memorable names encountered in the CWGK database in 2018. You can search these names here.

  1. Rye Curry
  2. Michael Scott
  3. Queen Victoria Lucas (daughter of Squire Lucas)
  4. Liberty Langford (who was arguing that a public road shouldn’t be built over his property)
  5. Joel Noel

3.) THE TIMELESS TRAVEL: Finally, we’ve asked each editor to select one place from the CWGK archive that they would most like to visit.

Natalie: I would most like to visit the Capital Plaza Hotel in Frankfort, Kentucky, specifically on the evening of February 24, 1863, to attend the reception held by the governor and Kentucky government in honor of the Union Ladies of Kentucky. With attendees counting among Kentucky’s high society, I’m sure discussions were held that shaped the course of the state’s history. And who wouldn’t love to see 1860s fashion on full display? (KYR-0362-001-0001)

Emily: Located in Kenton County, Latonia Springs was the hot spot for society during the Summer and during outbreaks of disease. Similar to the mineral springs in Bath, England, Latonia served as a retreat to help cure all ills.  I would most like to “take the waters” and discuss with those who anticipated the war in 1860. During the Civil War the springs transformed into a convalescence space. While it would be a fascinating place to visit today, the Springs closed in 1910. (O00009485)

Graduate Research Assistant: The Steamer St. Patrick traveled between Louisville, Kentucky; Cairo, Illinois; and Memphis, Tennessee on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers during the mid-1860s as the Civil War reached its conclusion. Along with Fulton County minister Nathaniel N. Cowgill, who wrote to Governor Thomas E. Bramlette in May 1865 from this steamboat, passengers witnessed both times of war and peace in this border region where the North meets the South. I would most like to board the St. Patrick at this time to view the landscapes, speak with men and women regarding the current events, and to better understand what Kentucky and its neighbors experienced during this era. (KYR-0002-225-0068)

4.) MOST OUTRAGEOUS STATEMENT: Our documents are not short on their own humor or scandalous affairs. Each member of the staff was tasked with finding their favorite one-liners.

Natalie: “His wife is a poor distressed woman, and the condition of her husband Makes her nearly crazy.” (About the wife of a “no good” man who was imprisoned for quarreling–KYR-0001-020-1212)

Emily: “May the Lord grant that these Duch and all the Duch in Lincoln Army May be Put in front of Batle for they are all Aboliost.” The petitioner here was mad at the Dutch for starting a fight and then joining the Union Army, and you guessed it, he was a Confederate supporter. (KYR-0001-020-1219)

Graduate Research Assistant: “Mr Darnall, I think, too young for such an important position besides, he has been Connected I understood with negro recruiting, which you know would to a great extent paralyze his usefulness.” Maysville’s Robert A. Cochran changed his mind about signing a petition a few days before, and here he does not hide his opposition to Darnall commanding a local militia company. (KYR-0002-225-0070)

5.) MOST REFUSED PARDON: A major component of the CWGK archive is requests for executive clemency. We asked the team to identify a document where they believe the evidence was there for the pardon, but the Governor seemed to have an “off” day.

Natalie: Richard Lucas from Shelby County was fined $200 for keeping a tippling house, though he claims to have had a federal license to sell alcohol. He begs Governor Bramlette to remit his fine as he is dying from tuberculosis and it is unlikely he will recover, and he does not wish to burden his family with the fee. His neighbors confirm in his petition that he had a license at the time, is an honest man, and is undoubtedly dying from the disease. Gov. Bramlette refuses him a pardon. What makes Bramlette’s refusal even more tragic, in my opinion, is that the document shows that he initially offered a 12-month respite, but crossed it out and wrote “Refused” instead. Even a respite would have been a little more compassionate! (KYR-0001-004-0563)

Emily: We don’t often come across a continuous set of “Refused” pardon request. However, between February and March 1864, Thomas E. Bramlette consistently refused these request to help individual Kentuckians. I know, I know, it is his prerogative to give clemency but I mean come on. Fingers crossed as we get into April 1864, he changes his tune.

From #MondayMystery to #TuesdayTranscription

It is always unsatisfying when transcribing a document to not be able to determine a word, phrase, or name. In July, I was working on a document when I came across a name that I could not decipher. After showing the name to the CWGK team, we were all stumped. So, what now? Do we just let this person fall back into the depths of history? I was disgruntled by our defeat.

After a discussion of what to do, we found our solution: social media. I am not a native Kentuckian (though some of my co-workers are), but I thought, who better to look at these signatures than people with ties to the Commonwealth? Who knows–maybe a signature could be a long-lost family member.

Social media users, such as those on Facebook and Twitter, put on their thinking caps and came to our rescue. Every Monday the Kentucky Historical Society post an image of a signature from one of the CWGK documents using the hashtag #MysteryMonday and ask our social media followers to help us decipher the name. In our first week one we discovered the name with ease, and I began to hope this process would open up more doors— I wasn’t wrong.

On August 13, 2018, we posted a signature that I NEVER thought would be determined. In less than one hour, the Kenton County Public Library swooped in and named our mystery person. Who knew success would taste this sweet? Well, I got a little too excited, because over the next three weeks, CWGK and social media were left without resolution. This, as it turned out, would be our longest streak without a name.

But wait! On September 10, one of our Facebook followers ended up identifying a signature that we had already deemed unrecognizable. Not only did Mr. Bigwood give us the name in the 1860 census record (this is where we check the names; every signature has to be corroborated by a primary source), but he gave us historical context. He stated that “This is old Germanic script. You can tell because of the distinctive ‘H’ which looks like it has been tilted on its side (the third letter), and the distinctive ‘a’ which immediately follows it. The signature reads “Johannes Dolle.” His insight has helped our researchers to look at names a bit differently in the transcribing stage.

Over the course of the last six months, with the help of social media, CWGK has discovered 16 out of the 23 names published online. Not too shabby!

As we approach the New Year, we are making some changes! First, we will be replacing the #MondayMystery to #TuesdayTranscription. We do this to keep true to the type of work the CWGK team conducts. And we wanted to have a hashtag (#) that would be unique to our postings. We look forward to starting 2019 with a clear perspective. Take a minute and click through our map to look at the locations where we traveled together on Mondays during 2018.

Don’t forget to follow The Kentucky Historical Society on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with #TuesdayTranscription and other CWGK projects.

2019 NHPRC Grant for CWGK

For the fourth time, the Civil War Governors of Kentucky (CWGK) was awarded a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) in the Publishing Historical Records program. The $78,800 grant will fund one full-time staff member and two Graduate Research Associates. The team will continue to digitally publish historical documents and expand the historical social network of over 7,000 individuals.

Read about the other projects funded by NHPRC in this grant cycle here.

CWGK Annotates 1,000 Documents

CWGK editorial staff recently annotated their 1,000th document. They have identified and written short biographies of each person who appears in 1,000 of the more than 10,000 documents that make up CWGK. Although their work continues, they are sharing their thoughts at this milestone in three blogs published by KHS. Read excerpts below, and follow the entire series through the links.

Natalie Smith, “Uncovering Untold Stories of Civil War-era Kentuckians
Editing documents in the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWGK) often means I’m diving headfirst into the grittier aspects of the Civil War. Crime, poverty, starvation and guerrilla attacks only scratch the surface of what Kentuckians endured during this chaotic period in our country’s history.

Emily Moses, “Staff Member Gains Insight from CWGK
Every day that I work on The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWGK) I am in awe of how this digital collection provides insight into the lives of 19th century Kentuckians. I am not a Kentuckian, nor by training am I a Civil War historian; I am a southern historian.

Patrick Lewis, “Annotation Requires Writing for People and Machines
Our biographies work. They build upon one another to create hundreds of thousands of discrete records of historical events large and small. Each treated equally. The world we capture in our biographies can be set into motion; viewed from the perspective of a town, of a day, of people who journey together on a specific steamboat. The number of these stories that we encode, both mundane and the world-changing, are almost limitless. The scale of this data is so great that we can’t yet fully imagine how we are going to use it. Has the historian who will build the system that starts and stops this network in time or peeks into the totality of a community on a critical month or day been born yet?