I wanted to let you all know that while I was visiting Illinois, I donated a copy of my thesis to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. This is not because I necessarily believe that my work is so great that everyone must read it, but was more to show my appreciation to the institution, as they provided me the majority of my source material, particularly manuscripts and newspapers on microfilm. I received a letter yesterday from them expressing gratitude for my donation. I will also be sending them an electronic copy shortly as well. To that end, I am providing it to you all as well. While I posted the document months ago, this copy has the page containing the approving signatures of my committee, which I was able to access finally before I left and incorporate it into the PDF. I hope those of you who have not yet read my thesis will download it and read it. Please remember that it is a copyrighted work and I would appreciate being credited if you choose to use it in research, as I did put a lot of work into it.
Sorry for not posting for a while, but doctoral work keeps me busier than normal and I have not had as much inspiration for topics lately, but welcome your suggestions. I do want to let you all know that as soon as I have it set up where you can view it without printing, I will post my thesis. This is not because I don’t trust many of you, but because I do not want someone without character to be able to print off my thesis, or copy it in any way. In addition to this, my bound hard copies will arrive in a couple of weeks and I can’t wait. I also have a great surprise that I will post when it gets closer, but rest assured you all will love it and I am quite fortunate to be able to take part in this event. I will give you a clue that this person dealt a little with my thesis topic and I plan to ask him what he knows about it. In any event, I hope to have my thesis up in some fashion this week, so look for it.
YYEESS!! I passed my defense today. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but my committee posed great questions, which I answered to the best of my ability. Now, I will make some minor changes this weekend and have it checked for style and format on Monday and submit the final copy by Thursday. In short, I will graduate on August 1 with my MA. I plan to begin Ph.D. work in late August, but have one thing left to resolve with that. I must be off, as I am going to grab a bite, relax, and hang out with friends later.
Exciting news for myself. My thesis is finished, at least for the most part. I received preliminary approval on Thursday, which means that no significant changes will be required by my committee on the draft. I only have a couple of steps left to complete my MA. I defend the thesis on Friday, July 11 at 11:00 AM (I will let you know how that goes on Friday). I also need to make any last-minute changes to the draft before submitting the draft to the Graduate School for a format check. Sometime early next week, I will submit a final copy to the graduate school for approval by the dean and if all goes well, I graduate on August 1.
Needless to say, I am quite happy that I am finished with this project. Illinois camps of instruction have been a passion of mine for four years. I began the research into Camp Carrollton, near my hometown of Jerseyville, Illinois. That camp was used by the Sixty-first Illinois Infantry from late-September 1861 to the end of February 1862. The camp was located on the Greene County Fair Grounds, which was similar to almost all other camps in the state. Eventually, the research became my senior paper as an undergraduate. Since then, I have presented a paper on Camp Carrollton twice at history conferences, as well as a paper dealing with the overall topic at the Northern Great Plains History Conference.
My thesis focuses on the transition from civilian to soldier, which the camps facilitated. The transformation took on three forms: physical, mental, and social. The physical transition encompassed the entrance into camp and the world of the soldier, with events like the medical examination, receipt of the uniform, and the beginning of drill. The mental transition focused on increased emotional expression in the soldiers’ writings as well as the learning of increased self-discipline. Finally, the social transition, which I found to be a more significant part of the transition, dealt with the soldier learning to become part of the unit. Soldiers engaged in many social activities in camp that brought them together as comrades. In addition, the soldiers ventured into the neighboring communities for attending church, dining out in local restaurants, and touring the sites. These activities, as well as the men leaving their camp, served to distinguish the soldier from the rest of society as a distinct social group.
Overall, the story of camps has been largely ignored by scholars. Most works I have encountered by historians that deal with soldiers focus on soldiers once they were in the field. I concluded that most scholars focus not on a civilian to soldier transition, but a soldier to veteran transition. Studying camps is important because to fully understand soldiers we need to know their story before they face their first battle.
In conclusion, I am quite relieved to have my thesis mostly done. I am a bit nervous about my defense, but am confident that all will work out. I plan to start my doctoral work in the fall and am currently not sure what I will write my dissertation on, but am looking forward to the challenge. As for whether I will have my thesis published in some form as a journal article, I will let you know when that comes about.