Skiing Invented During the Civil War

Personally, I think the relationship between ideas and modes of representation is very confusing. But visual modes of representation do help to clarify events in time.

For example, in class we made timelines of our lives and then our days. It was really interesting to see what you remember, but also helps to have it all mapped out on a timeline to clearly see the chronology of important events in time. “For Christians, getting chronology right was the key to many practical matters such as knowing when to celebrate Easter and weighty ones such a knowing when the Apocalypse was nigh.” (Grafton, pg 11) It’s not just important for ordinary people to use chronology to remember information, it can also help with dating significant events in time. However, in historical times there was no exact chronological order of every event that occurred. So people had to use visual modes of representation to get an accurate timeline of events. “Still, experiments continued. Some were graphic, like the effort to lay out all the main historical events on a calendar that stretched not from the Creation or Abraham to the present but from January 1 to December 31, with important events in the past stacked up day by day, through the year.” (Grafton, pg 17).Screen shot 2014-10-05 at 10.46.02 PM

It’s interesting to think about how time played out for Linn in his diary. It was also fascinating to see how really significant events in history occurred in the same years as Linn’s diary, so while the Civil War was going on. For example, who knew that the first transantlantic telegraph cable was used during the same decade as the Civil War was taking place. However, this would not have been as simple if we did not have the technology we possess today. It definitely made studying and comparing historical events easier and more accessible to the public. Although it is very eminent, we must remember that “Though technology plays an important role in our story, it doesn’t drive it.” (page 15) It was especially interesting that Linn didScreen shot 2014-10-05 at 10.45.40 PM not mention any important historical events that occurred outside his life in the Civil War. For example, skiing was invented in the same winter when Linn was writing in his diary. Although he did not have the Internet or any technology that would have allowed him to gain access quickly, I assume that word of a new sport like skiing would have been spread about in the United States as well, but there was no mention of skiing or any important event that occurred outside of his immediate realm.

Thinking about Time and Place

One of the things I love about doing historical research is learning about the time in which an event or series of events took place. In my opinion, you cannot consider people or the experiences (or their works) in a vacuum. To me, you can’t study Shakespeare without considering what was going on in England and the world during the reign of Elizabeth I.

The same holds true for how I think we should examine James Merrill Linn’s experience in the Civil War. While he might not always talk about what is going on in the wider world, we know that he was reading newspapers, and that waiting for news from the world beyond the battlefield was what kept him and his fellow soldiers going in what can only be imagined as horrific conditions.

We’re going to spend the next week thinking about the idea of time, and how the events in Linn’s life and in the Civil War more generally played out in the context of the decade of the 1860’s in terms of society, politics, science, technology, literature, and the arts on a global scale.

To do that we’re going to collaborate on the creation of a timeline using a multimedia timeline web-based platform called TimeMapper.

I’ve started a TimeMapper instance for our class, called “1860s Events”. It looks like this:TimeMapper

Your task will be to add event “slides” to this timeline. You will use Wikipedia’s list of events for the decade of the 1860s, add text and images that describe and evoke your event, and geospatial coordinates that will identify that event with a place.[1. A helpful way to find the longitude and latitude for a city, state, province, or country is to call up that place on Wikipedia; in the right sidebar you should see a link for “Coordinates.” Click on those numbers and you will be taken to a “GeoHack” page that provides the correct longitude and latitude.] The one caveat is that you need to find events that are not about the Civil War (or at least explicitly about the Civil War.) See what else was going on in the world in the 1860s!

In order for you to begin adding information to our TimeMapper, you will input data and metadata into a special Google Form that I have set up for this purpose: HUMN 100 TimeMapper Google Form.

Added by editor: please add your event and name to the table on this Google doc: 

Email me with any questions that arise. We’ll work on the TimeMapper again on Monday.