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Fellow prepares to present research

By Staff | Jul 22, 2011

Angela Elder reads through some of the resources provided at the George Tyler Moore Center on Friday, July 15. Elder researched for her graduate dissertation ‘Living on the Edge: Death, Confederate Widowhood, and the Second Virginia Infantry,’ which will be presented on July 28 at 7:30 pm in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall at Shepherd University. (Chronicle photo by Rachel Molenda)

Angela Elder always had a passion for history, beginning at an early age with her mother’s interest in genealogy and extending into her academic career as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia.

It seemed appropriate that Shepherdstown and the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War acted as home base for Elder’s graduate research on widowhood and the Civil War. She was impressed with the amount of resources the center has to offer.

“Basically the Civil War Center has hundreds of books written on the Civil War, which is really helpful. And also the people here – like Tom White, the research specialist – knows not only all of the resources in the center but is also great at giving advice for resources in the area,” Elder said.

She said Shepherdstown not only contains a large amount of history, but it is also surrounded by many other historic places.

“Shepherdstown is a great base because you’re so close to the archives in Richmond and the archives in D.C. and all the battlefields,” she said.

Elder came to Shepherdstown by way of the Nethken Memorial Fellowship, a research opportunity open to graduate students through the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War. Far from her home in Athens, Ga., Elder found it to be a fairly easy transition.

“It’s been wonderful not only for research purposes, but the people have been friendly and helpful,” she said. “People, especially Mark Snell, the director of the center, have made me feel at home despite being so far from Georgia.”

Snell spoke highly of Elder, saying she “has become a fixture at the George Tyler Moore Center and she will be sorely missed when she leaves next week.”

For the past month and a half, Elder studied the lives of widows of the Civil War through primary sources like letters and diary entries as well as visits to famous Civil War battlefields that bring history to life.

“I think it’s really powerful to be able to hold pieces of paper that were so important for people in history. For example, to hold a telegram to a wife that tells her her husband had died or the letter from a mother to her son on the battlefield,” Elder said.

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and wars still being fought all around the world, Elder explained its relevance to individuals today and their connections to the past through relatable experiences.

“The 150th anniversary of the Civil War is important not just because it was our nation’s bloodiest war but because the things that people went through then, people still experience today,” she said.

History was not all Elder found herself immersed in. She enjoyed the outdoor scenery that this area provides, using the C&O Canal Towpath and other trails for running in her spare time.

“Shepherdstown is in a neat location because the Potomac River is so close. There are so many hiking opportunities in the area. It’s really just a great escape from day-to-day work inside,” she said.

Elder will be presenting “Living on the Edge: Death, Confederate Widowhood, and the Second Virginia Infantry” at 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 28 in the Erma Ora Byrd Hall at Shepherd University.

“I am really excited to talk about my research,” Elder said, “and see what people in the area think and say.”