Episode 88: Ancestral Tours of Battlefields and Bonefields

Forget the luxuries of early 21st century travel, early 19th century tourists who visited wartime sites usually dealt with bad roads and shoddy lodgings. Instead of the romantic visions of history depicted in paintings and writings, they found sites littered with discarded armaments and bodies of the fallen. Veterans greeted these tourists with reminiscences of their wartime memories. 

Historian Thomas Chambers shares how battlefield tourism enabled wealthy educated ancestral travelers to make the connection between place and memory. Instead of going to Europe they took the weeks long American tour to see where history was made.  They wanted the real experience of people and places to form their sense of the past.  His book, Memories of War: Visiting Battlegrounds and Bonefields in the Early Republic (Cornell 2012, 2018) is a fascinating study of the history of tourism. 

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About My Guest:

Thomas A. Chambers joined Canisius College as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences in 2019. He currently serves on the Niagara Frontier State Park, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Commission, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area Board of Directors, and helped lead statewide public history projects related to the War of 1812 Bicentennial and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Path Through History Task Force. In 2016 Chambers was elected to the New York Academy of History. At Niagara University he earned tenure and promotion to Professor in the History Department, and served for periods as NU’s Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, History Department Chair, Graduate Studies Strategic Enrollment Director, Director of the Master’s program in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Director of the Liberal Arts major. He took his Ph.D. and M.A. at the College of William and Mary, and earned his B.A. at Middlebury College. He is The recipient of three National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks in American History and Culture grants.  

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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