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The Meaning of Civil War Uniforms

People Involved

Dr Charles Prior

Dr Charles Prior
Head of the School of Humanities & Reader in History

Project Description

Military uniforms of the American Civil War can help us understand processes of collective and individual identity formation, the construction and contestation of masculinity,and industrialisation and modernisation in the mid-nineteenth century. I propose to use the LOC’s extensive holdings of Civil War soldiers’ letters, diaries, and memoirs, in addition to the library’s collections of portrait photographs, to interrogate how uniforms were produced and worn during the conflict, how individual soldiers interacted with and experienced their uniforms,and the meanings and sensations those processes generated. Tracing Union soldiers’ ambivalent relationships with their uniforms –including how they documented their experiences in correspondence and postwar reminiscences, and how they crafted their own self-image within the parameters of portrait photography -will help me to better understand uniforms as sites not only of conformity, control, and discipline, but also of adaptation and improvisation, of transgression and subversion, and even of national prosthesis and regeneration.

Status Project Live
Funder(s) Arts & Humanities Research Council
Value £6,250.00
Project Dates Jun 1, 2023 - Aug 31, 2023

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