Shemberger studies Civil War newspaper editorials

Dr. Melony Shemberger, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, presented and published a paper in 2015, focusing on editorials published in Kentucky during the Civil War.

The title of her talks and subsequent article was “Voices of a Border State: Editorials of the Civil War Kentucky Press.”

First, she was the guest speaker at the spring meeting of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society in April.

Her presentation became the basis of an article published in the summer 2015 edition of the Journal of the Jackson Purchase Historical Society. The article concentrated on west Kentucky newspapers.

Then, Murray State’s history department invited Shemberger to present her work at the History Research Forum in October 2015.

Shemberger’s 2015 scholarly endeavors on Civil War editorials in Kentucky newspapers stem from a paper she presented at a Civil War symposium in November 2014 in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Here is an abstract of Shemberger’s work:

In Civil War research, editorials often are used as anecdotal material to support or add dimension to a scholar’s arguments. However, these pieces rarely have been warranted as texts to be examined, thus becoming an overlooked signature feature of a Kentucky Civil War newspaper. Kentucky’s dividing position of neutrality and looming Confederate invasion prompted editorials to shed light on the support given to the Confederacy or the Union.

Shemberger’s study reviewed several Kentucky newspapers published mostly in 1861 and 1862. Many of these editorials expressed strong pro-Union support. Editors were aware of the need their papers filled at this critical time, and as the war heightened in the border state, many wrote passionately in support of the Union. Yet, they did so in such a way that their opinions educated readers, regardless of which side they took or how they felt.

Civil War research will continue, but it is hoped that editorials published during this historic event will be regarded as more than mere anecdotes — and recognized more as a newspaper’s bold voice that deserves to be heard.

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Posted on 13 January 2016 by jmcjournal

Categorized | Alumni, Faculty/Staff