Inaugural Callery Lecture by Kirk Savage


Inaugural Callery Lecture by Kirk Savage

Thursday July 17, 2014 3:45 PM
Frick Fine Arts Building, University of Pittsburgh

Reception and Light Refreshments to Follow

The inaugural lecture in the Bernadette Callery Archives Lecture Series will be held in conjunction with the Archives Educational Research Institute (AERI) being held at the University of Pittsburgh; the lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture series honors the memory of Dr. Bernadette Callery who was a member of the iSchool faculty and who taught in the Archives specialization in the Library and Information Science program. Previous to joining the faculty, Dr. Callery was the Museum Librarian at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Before her death, Dr. Callery thoughtfully established this lecture, which was funded through a generous bequest.

Follow the Bodies, Follow the Names: One Art Historian’s Search Through the Archival Remains of the Civil War Dead

Kirk Savage

During the Civil War the problem of the “unknown dead” became a national crisis.  On both sides of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of soldiers who died on the battlefield or in makeshift hospitals or in prison camps ended up as lost bodies, in unidentified graves or no grave at all.  Bodies became severed from their names; or, in archival terms, the material object (the corpse) lost its metadata (the headboards or gravestones that physically linked the name of the dead to the bodily remains).

The crisis of the unknown dead was, therefore, an archival crisis, which resulted in the proliferation of new archives devoted to the common soldier.  These included cenotaphs (empty tombs) and public monuments inscribed with names of the dead, on a scale never before seen.  In this paper I will reflect on the process of following bodies and names through these myriad archives, a process greatly enhanced by digital tools.  On an individual level the process looks much like family genealogy, but on a collective level the process speaks to cultural shifts linked to evolving concepts of family, nation, and sacrifice.

Kirk Savage is a professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh.  He has published widely on public monuments in the U.S. for the past thirty years.  He is the author of two prize-winning books, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth Century America (Princeton, 1997) and Monument Wars: Washington D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (University of California, 2009).

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