More than a Memory: The Complex Relationship Between Living History and Slavery

Sofia Biegeleisen

Name: Sofia Biegeleisen
Majors: History, Spanish
Advisor: Dr. Jordan Biro Walters, Ibra Sene (second reader)
This project deals with the connection between historical memory of the US Civil War and living history, with a special focus on the role that slavery plays in this relationship. While there is no shortage of scholarship on historical memory of the Civil War, living history scholarship is generally part of a separate discussion. To fill this gap, I explain how and why living historians interpret slavery. I also connect these themes with the idea that living history which fails to interpret slavery as the primary cause of the Civil War helps to perpetuate modern racial divisions. I argue that living history must interpret slavery, despite the challenges. When living historians, living history sites, and living history organizations do interpret slavery, they represent the past more truthfully and cultivate important discussions about racism both historically and in the contemporary context. To explore this topic, I conducted oral history interviews with two living historians who use living history as a tool for teaching about slavery. In addition to providing information for the written portion, these interviews are also featured in the podcast portion of this project. I aim to bring the discussion of slavery to the forefront of living history. If slavery is missing from the historical narrative, understanding modern racial tensions is impossible.

Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Sofia will be online to field comments on April 16:
10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST: 6-8am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon)

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 5, 2021.

Related Posts

Megan Tuennerman '22

Wrong-way Icelandic puffins lead student researcher to follow the right path

Khaylen Mahdi ’22

Disciplined, creative thinker spotlights opportunity—not obstacles—in Black entrepreneurship

Bang Nguyen ’22

Siri-ously biased: Computer science major examines language models showing negativity toward LGBTQ+ terms

Related Areas of Study


Language, histories, literature, and cultures of Spanish-speaking countries

Major Minor


Critically examine events and societies of the past and learn to tell the stories future generations need to know

Major Minor

Connect with Wooster