Creating The Ultimate Civil War Resource

PrintPrintEmailEmail

It’s all tedious work, and it can get especially maddening for Dobbins when he’s trying to make out frilly handwriting preserved on aging microfiche. Still, he grinds on. For him, the job is something of a higher calling, a public works project of the Digital Age. He finds pride and solace in the idea that absolutely any Civil War soldier, and at least the rudiments of that soldier’s story, can be extracted from these mountains of paper records. And he’s not oblivious to the irony in his mission. Computers, which so often can seem dehumanizing, are in this case just the opposite. “From the richness of the data,” he says, “you learn what really happened to these people.”