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Staff member gains insight from CWGK

(Editor’s Note: KHS staff working on the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition recently annotated their 1,000th document. They have identified and written short biographies of each person who appears in 1,000 of the more than 10,000 documents that make up CWGK. Although their work continues, they are sharing their thoughts at this milestone in three blogs.)

By Emily Moses, research associate Every day that I work on The Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition (CWGK) I am in awe of how this digital collection provides insight into the lives of 19th century Kentuckians. I am not a Kentuckian, nor by training am I a Civil War historian; I am a southern historian. However, having worked on CWGK for the last five months, one thing is evident as I write this post: I know so little about a state that, for all intents and purposes is “southern” and my new home. Why? This question drives my work. CWGK is a hidden gem in the realm of digital history. Not only has it developed a unique way to examine the Office of the Governor, but each document is transcribed, annotated—using primary sources to identify people, places, organizations and geographical features relating to that document—and published.

The team assembled to work on this project has made it possible for students, teachers and scholars to do primary source research from their homes. As a southern historian, and a historian of the carceral state (prisons, police, crime, etc.), I am excited that this project highlights the importance of gubernatorial pardons. This allows us to take a step into that world and understand the importance of executive clemency and how the Kentucky State Penitentiary operated during a time of war. By making 1,000 documents fully accessible to the public, we are taking necessary steps to recognize the motives of 19th century Kentuckians. Take a minute today and see how the past shaped modern Kentucky.


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