I’ve recently started a blog about tribute books written to commemorate soldiers who died in World War I. My original interest in the these books was a personal one, stemming from a book written to honor my great uncle, William Bradford Turner, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after his death on the Western Front on Sept. 27th 1918.
Typically, these books comprise collections of letters, diary entries, and biographical tributes, “printed for private circulation” in small runs of 50-100. The rarity of these books meant that in the early nineties, when I first became interested in the them, they were very difficult to find. Over two decades later, with the advent of the internet, things have changed. Many such books have been digitized and are available online. This state of affairs contributed greatly to my initial efforts to develop a collection of tribute books. Of course, the internet has, in addition, created new venues for disseminating scholarly research, and so while I am working on a monograph based on these materials, this blog offers a way to organize them in a different format and reach a different audience (hopefully). While the monograph will analyze these books thematically, the blog seeks to convey their original, chronological nature, posting excerpts day by day, one hundred years after the fact as a way of re-commemorating lives cut tragically short in the first catastrophe of a bloody twentieth century.
In this session I would like to stimulate a discussion of the possibilities and pitfalls of academic blogging in general and the strengths and weaknesses of this blog in particular. I would be especially interested in suggestions and advice about how I might use the blog as stepping stone to a more ambitious (and perhaps fundable) digital humanities project.