Last month there was quite the little explosion on Kevin Levin’s blog, Civil War Memory. No, no, it wasn’t about black Confederates. In fact, it all started innocently enough when Kevin posted some videos of historians responding to questions. They were major figures in the profession, and someone noted that younger historians were absent from the videos.
One poster observed:
Give us the opportunity and we’ll speak, but I’d wager that the producers of these videos sent out an e-mail blast to the usual suspects, and no young scholars. It’s the nature of the profession that those better established will have the podium, and those of us in the beginnings of our careers will be struggling to have our voices heard. In general, and especially in public history, we’re all having a tough time getting that podium because the folks inspired by the centennial are still firmly ensconced in the positions they obtained thirty and thirty-five years ago. Give us a microphone and we’ll talk your ear off, but until someone offers us the stage we can’t help out with any efficacy.
I felt the same way when I was young, too. Then I became one of the usual suspects. That’s called the cycle of life … although I did not get my position thirty or so years ago, for at that time David Blight and I were graduate students at the University of Wisconsin, studying under Richard H. Sewell.