i’m watching this documentary about halloween and there’s a part where they’re explaining that ghost stories got really popular around the civil war no one could really deal with how many people went off and died and

the narrator just said 

“the first ghost stories were really about coming home”


#but wow let me tell you about how the american civil war changed the whole culture of grief and death  #because before that people died at home mostly  #where their family saw them die and held their body and had proof they were really dead and it was a process  #but during the war people left and never came home their bodies never came back there was no proof  #people died in new horrific ways on the battlefield literally vaporized by cannonballs or lost in swamps and eaten by wild animals  #and there were NO BODIES to send home  #and people simply couldn’t grasp that their son or father or husband was really gone  #there are stories about people spending months searching for their loved ones  #convinced they couldn’t be dead if there were no body they were simply lost or hurt and they needed to be saved and brought home  #embalming also really started during the civil war as a way for bodies to be brought home as intact as possible  #wow i just wowowow the culture of death and grief and stuff during this time period is fascinating and sad  #history  (via souryellows)

#quietly reblogs own tags  #also the civil war was when dog tags and national cemetaries became a thing  #and during the war there was n real system in place to notify families of the deaths  #like they’d find out maybe from letters from soldiers who were there when their loved one died nd stuff  #but there was no real system  #and battlefield ambulances were basically invented because so many people died on the battlefield when they could have been saved if they co  #…could have been moved frm the battlefield to a hospital  #like there was this one really inlfuential dude whose son died that way and he became dedicated to getting an ambulance system in place  

I’m not doing this in the correct tag-style, but.

IIRC, the Civil War also played a huge part in forming the modern American conception of heaven as this nice, domestic place where you’re reunited with your loved ones.  People (particularly mothers) responded to the trauma of brother-killing-brother by imagining an afterlife in which families would once again be happy together.

(also not doing this in the correct tag-style, because I wanna KNOW— )What documentary is this? Or is there more than one? Any books on the subject? THIS IS FASCINATING.

cool (ghost) story, bro.

reblogging because, as a us history phd student, i want to say YAY for how much of this is totally on point. i also want to rec the book where a lot of this is covered very, very well, which is Drew Gilpin Faust’s “This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War.”

a lot of books on the Civil War are deadly dull because they’re about battles and shit, but as a transformative moment in mindset and ideology, it becomes *fascinating*

the other book I’d even more highly rec is David W. Blight’s “Race and Reunion,” which is about how the “(white) brother against (white) brother” image of the war was invented and how throwing African Americans to the merciless viciousness of post-Reconstruction racist whites was part of constructing this “oh everybody was white men and everybody was noble let’s celebrate them all” approach to Civil War remembrance

very good stuff

Thank you! This looks like exactly the sort of reading I’m after! *adds to wish list*

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