There is nothing flashy or glamorous about Civil War Women Blog in its design, but content-wise it is unparalleled. The Civil War period is quite popular right now and there are countless sites dedicated to the topic. Civil War Women Blog offers a niche focus for a broad topic, and one that is highly underrepresented in both scholarly and amateur research. Women were active on both sides of the conflict before, during, and after the upheaval that nearly destroyed the nation.
Civil War Women Blog is so drab as to be almost off-putting at first glance. The grey-grey-blue of the design makes the blog appear undeveloped and not worth reading. Whatever it lacks aesthetically is made up for by the content. Maggie MacLean, the site’s author and owner, obviously puts all her effort into her writing. Each post is a short biography of a woman involved in some way with the events of the 1860s. From spies and nurses to politicians’ wives and activists, the women profiled on this site impacted the course of events and shape of the United States in a post-slavery world.
While I am impressed with MacLean’s scope and depth of information, I was disappointed by how much of the articles were sketches of husbands. Take Ellen Mary Marcy McClellan for example. It would be crazy to expect no mention of her husband, Union General George B. McClellan, but more than half the article detailed his movements, communications, and actions. There are tons of places to learn about him online and off; I came here to learn about her. I know that society in the 19th century put a lot of restrictions on women and their husbands were the deciding factor for most of the events of their lives, but they were still individuals who acted of their own freewill. They deserve to be remembered for what they did, not what their husbands did.
MacLean’s writing is fantastic, far better than average writing online. I didn’t find one spelling or grammar mistake in the 10,000+ words I read closely. As someone who gets quite distracted by misspelling and poor grammar, I can’t express how comforting such careful writing is to me, particularly from a self-described “amateur historian”.
For me, Civil War Women Blog offers more than just information and links relating to my topic. It give me something to aspire to for my own writing and content. I would be proud if I produced articles with the same detail, style, and consistency as MacLean does. This blog gives me a goal for my own research, writing, and product that I’ve needed to define.
I’ve sent MacLean a message with some questions about her research methods and some content from a few articles, particularly Kate Warne. I’ll let you know if I hear back.