The Decline of Confederate Heritage

One of the favorite pastimes of historians is exploring the evolution and transformation of historical memory — that is, how people remember the past. Often, in fact, people’s understanding of the past is little more than a patchwork of memories not grounded in any familiarity with basic historical narrative, let alone scholarship, but derived from various notions, many of them dated, derived from family lore, local tales, civic ceremonies, and scattered exposures to history in primary and secondary school. Some of this survives first contact with real research, while other assumptions collapse immediately or wither away as one learns more about what happened in the past. This is often the case with family history, where those stories one once heard don’t hold up very well when someone’s curiosity gets the better of them … or one discovers part of the family past that no one talked about, and not always because they were ashamed of it.

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