Graffiti Houses

An NEH Landmarks in American History and Culture Workshop for Teachers offered in summer 2016.  This workshop invites teachers to explore the Civil War through the lives of individual Civil War soldiers who left their mark in three “graffiti houses” in Northern Virgina-Historic Blenheim, Ben Lomond and the Graffiti House at Brandy Station. Workshop participants select an item of graffiti from these locations and piece together the story of the individual who created it. They research their soldier’s service and postwar life in National Archives, and visit the Gettysburg National Military Park to examine the monuments and markers that commemorate the common soldier. Upon completing the workshop, teachers have knowledge of how to use the history of ordinary individuals to personalize the social and cultural history of the Civil War, and make it powerful to students. Telling their soldier’s story in an online exhibit also provides the opportunity to learn how to identify and use the new digital resources and tools that are transforming  how historians work.