Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is there something missing?

A new Civil War Museum opened today in Texas. Called the Texas Civil War Museum. This privately owned and run museum has over 300 war related artifacts and The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Texas Confederate Collection which includes a number of Civil War Flags. According to the website “these combined collections make this the largest Civil War museum west of the Mississippi River.”

One newspaper report describes how Northern artifacts are on the North Side of the building and Southern artifacts are on the south side. They have a web site that gives a historical overview of the Civil War from a Texas perspective. There is also a link to some suggested educational activities. I give them credit for making education a primary mission; however in looking over the suggested lesson plans something seem to be missing. It is as if the issue of slavery and race have been excluded from any suggested learning activity. I am not from Texas but I have been to the Dallas/Ft.Worth area a number of times and it strikes me as a diverse area so it is surprising that the “largest Civil War Museum” west of the Mississippi River would not deal with the role of race in the Civil War more completely.

I will be going to Dallas again in February and plan to make time in my schedule to visit. Maybe my initial impression is wrong but from what I can get from their website I am afraid I am not. Luckily some students have dedicated educators like Kevin Levin who give their students a more complete view of the issues surrounding Secession, the Civil War and Reconstruction .

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy -

The Texas Civil War Museum is a bit 'sparse' right now. They have just opened recently, and I am sure they are adjusting. Being a privately owned concern, I would imagine it is difficult to really acquire materials quickly. I live about 20 miles from them and still have not paid a visit - yet.

It will indeed be interesting to see if the museum tackles the base causes of the war or not. I am not sure, in this area, if that will happen but it is possible. Fort Worth is probably less 'diverse' than you think (grin)

Good column!!

Clarence

7:28 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Hey Clarence thanks for the comments and the info you sent regarding the microfilm scan. I know I should not judge the museum as I have not been there yet, but the website struct me as a little on the "lost cause" side. I will make a point of seeing it when I get down there next month. You will have to let me know your impressions when you get to see it.

9:03 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Andy, -- Let's hope that Clarence is right, but my guess is that you will not see much change in their curriculum and the reason is fairly straight forward. The fundamental problem is that the war is still seen as a white man's war that has little to do with emancipation and race. The other part of the problem is that African Americans do not visit Civil War sites in significant numbers. You would see an immediate change in the way National Parks and museums interpret if black Americans travelled to these places in significant numbers. Thanks for the vote of confidence re: teaching.

6:46 AM  

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