Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Ezra Ayers Carman was a veteran of Antietam who was employed by the War Department in the last decade of the nineteenth century to write the official history of that battle. As an historian, Carman acted as a gatekeeper of the official memory at Antietam. He created scaffolding in which veterans could remember tactical/military aspects of their participation in the battle of Antietam. Once his framework for memory was set, Carman opened up extensive correspondence with veterans. He then had the responsibility of sifting through the incoming memories and choosing those he would use to create his official history. The historical process that Carman used demonstrates that historical memory often takes place at the most basic levels of society and then works its way up. Essentially, Carman initiated private conversations and took those memories to make a national interpretation. The product of Carman's work reveals that core ideas of Americanism are found through remembrance of inflated heroism in warfare. Dissenting memories that came to Carman often focused on the realistic and horrific aspects of war, these memories were silenced and left out of the official history. The Federal government adopted methods similar to those Carman used as subsequent U.S. wars were commemorated nationally.
Hulver, Richard A., "Ezra Ayers Carman: The Gatekeeper of Memory at Antietam National Battlefield" (2011). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 746.