My good friend Ken Bowen is launching a web project on new year’s day: a blog named “Written in Glory” at 54th-mass.org. “Written in Glory” is a historical reenactment/reproduction of the year 1863 using the letters and memoirs of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment of free black men that was created to fight in the American Civil War. Almost every day for the next year, letters from the officers and soldiers of the 54th will be posted on the same day of the year the letters were penned in 1863. Readers can subscribe and follow the story of the 54th’s first year in the real-time of 1863 (i.e. letters delivered by horse and steam, and news by telegraph.)
I’ve had a front-row seat to the construction of the site. Ken scanned, OCR-ed and proofed letters, memoirs, photographs and maps, as well as trawled the New York Times archive of 1863 for relevant articles. The site itself is built on WordPress with some unique customizations. For example, historic maps are listed for each post based on the current location of the 54th and any locations mentioned in the post. Serializing history like this is a great way to get a sense of the scale and difficulty of life and war in the 1800s.