“Battlefields Mean Business: Economic Benefits of Battlefield Preservation”

Many of our readers are familiar with heritage tourism. In fact many of us would say we are heritage tourists! Historic sites and the communities they reside in can mutually benefit from the visitors that they receive. The Civil War Trust recently released a detailed report of the benefits for these communities as they play host to our nation’s history and the many visitors that come to see it each year.  

The Civil War Trust released a report detailing the economic benefits that battlefield preservation can provide to U.S. communities. After investigating geographically diverse locations across the United States, the study found that historic sites support jobs, attract visitors, create opportunities for local business, and contribute to state and local coffers. Revealing what enhances the economic benefits of battlefields tourism, the report demonstrates that when more land is preserved, sites can become an even more powerful economic engine.

Preservation Victory at Goose Creek Bridge!

For those of you familiar with the Gettysburg Campaign, Little Round Top was not the first time the famous 20th Maine or Vincent’s Brigade saw combat during the events leading up to the battle. The Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks recently announced a preservation victory at Goose Creek Bridge where these units, along with JEB Stuart’s cavalry squared off almost 155 years ago. Find out more about this success by reading below.

“Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe Announces Preservation Victory at Historic Goose Creek Bridge

The Civil War Trust and NOVA Parks recently hosted a news conference in scenic Loudoun County, Virginia, to announce the preservation of 20 acres associated with the Battle of Upperville—a small but significant early engagement of the momentous Gettysburg Campaign. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime champion of battlefield preservation in the Old Dominion, served as keynote speaker. Thanks to four decades of work by the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club, the historic Goose Creek Bridge and its adjacent hallowed grounds will become Northern Virginia’s newest regional historic park.”

Check out the full story here.

ECW Weekender: Spot Where A.P. Hill Was Killed

It’s a bold claim to set in stone that you are on the exact spot of a historic event. In 1912 the Sons of Confederate Veterans felt confident enough in their research on the death of Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill to make that statement. I’ve recently written a couple articles sharing new accounts about Hill’s death, discoveries I made after devoting a chapter of Dawn of Victory: Breakthrough at Petersburg to the story of the Third Corps commander’s final ride. Everything I’ve found since 2015 has built on that current accepted interpretation. For all I know Corporal John Mauk’s minie ball did strike Hill at the exact location that is claimed, but it can be a tricky place to find.

The thirty-nine year old Virginian began the morning of April 2, 1865 at the home of James M. Venable, a local mill owner, where Hill kept his personal quarters with his pregnant wife Dolly and two young children. Today the site is a Pepsi plant at 1501 W. Washington Street on the city of Petersburg’s western end. Kept awake by the sound of an overnight artillery barrage, Hill dressed at about 3 a.m. and crossed the road to the Third Corps headquarters at the widow Isabella Knight’s residence, “Indiana,” marked now by an Exxon gas station.

Accompanied by several couriers, of whom I’ve finally found better source material, Hill rode to Robert E. Lee’s headquarters at the William Turnbull house, “Edge Hill,” (the Walgreens at 26036 Cox Road, North Dinwiddie). Along the way he was alerted to the Union breakthrough of his corps’ lines (at today’s Pamplin Historical Park). Upon reaching the Turnbull House, Hill met briefly with Lee and James Longstreet before riding due south toward the Thomas Whitworth house (on the grounds of today’s Central State Hospital). That structure, “Mayfield,” still stands but was relocated further to the east as the psychiatric facilities expanded.

Hill then rode southwest along Cattail Run, shedding his companions as he traveled until only Sergeant George Tucker remained as an escort. He hoped to reach the division headquarters of Major General Henry Heth at the home of Zadok Wilson Pickrell, the “Century House.” That renovated structure still stands as a private residence on the south side of the intersection of U.S. Highway 1 and Virginia Highway 671 (today the latter is called Brownwall Road but its brief stretch follows the original bed of the historic Boydton Plank Road).

The two mounted Confederates remained hidden in the woods along Cattail Run until they reached a point nearly due north of Sheriff John W. Harmon’s house (burnt down postwar) at the intersection of Duncan Road with the plank road. They broke for the open and were intercepted at the end of a small meadow by Corporal Mauk and Private Daniel Wolford. Hill’s objective, the Century House, was still about nine hundred yards further southwest, though Heth had long since vacated the headquarters and Federals milled throughout the yard. Further brashness by Hill and Tucker placed them into a showdown where they were outgunned by the Pennsylvania infantrymen. Nevertheless, Wolford shakily began to lower his rifle musket when the Confederates demanded their surrender. Mauk refused to capitulate in the hour of ultimate Union triumph at Petersburg. The pair fired and Mauk’s bullet struck Hill, instantly killing the commander. Wolford’s aim was not as steady and Tucker survived to inform Lee (and the now-widowed Dolly) of Hill’s death.

Tucker’s escape also offered historians the opportunity to utilize primary accounts of the event from both perspectives. The Sons of Confederate Veterans relied on the descriptions of Mauk and Wolford when gathering evidence in the early twentieth century to place two markers to note the site of Hill’s death. (Newspaper articles from 1888, 1890, and 1903 all say the site had been marked in each of those years, but the SCV undertook an extensive study in 1911 to confirm and properly designate the location.) In the tradition of placing markers along areas of high transit, the A.P. Hill Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans placed their memorial to Hill at the intersection of Boydton Plank Road and Duncan Road. Hill’s widow and children attended the unveiling ceremony in April 1912.

The memorial’s text is not favorable to Mauk and Wolford. Though the two Pennsylvanians charged and broke through the Confederate fortifications that morning, personally pried up several rails of the South Side Railroad (a designated secondary objectives of the assault), and evenly matched Hill and Tucker in number during their standoff, the SCV inscribed them in history as merely “a small band of stragglers.” The stone still stands at the intersection. Visitors can turn onto Duncan Road and then park in an unpaved lot behind the marker.

Site of A.P. Hill’s death, click on image for full size (map by author)

Across Route 1 is a sign first placed in 1929 by the Virginia Historical Highway Marker Program denoting “Where Hill Fell.” As parking along the highway or crossing the road from the SCV memorial is not advisable, the text reads: “In the field a short distance north of this road, the Confederate General A.P. Hill was killed, April 2, 1865. Hill, not knowing that Lee’s lines had been broken, rode into a party of Union soldiers advancing on Petersburg.” (Every reliable firsthand Confederate account I’ve read acknowledges that the commanders at Edge Hill were aware of the Breakthrough when Hill departed to learn just how bad the situation had deteriorated on his front.) The worn sign was most recently replaced in 2015.

Thanks to the preservation efforts of the Civil War Trust who acquired the property, visitors have the ability to continue on to the actual location according to the SCV who placed an additional small granite marker in 1912. From the Route 1 marker, turn south onto the highway and then immediately turn right onto A.P. Hill Drive into the Sentry Woods subdivision. Turn right onto Sentry Hill Court and then drive to the back end of the neighborhood. Visitors may park on the shoulder next to the Civil War Trust boundary signs and follow the short trail downhill to the “Spot Where A.P. Hill Was Killed.”

As the map indicates, development is starting to sprawl down the Route 1 corridor from Petersburg into Dinwiddie County. The once rural landscape may one day contain only pocket battlefield parcels as the county modernizes. Nonetheless, in their own way, the three markers note Hill’s death in the immediate aftermath of the Breakthrough at Petersburg on April 2, 1865. Did I mention there are three burial sites as well… for another weekend trip.

A Conversation with Hallowed Ground‘s Mary Koik (part four)


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Mary Koik with her oldest son at Gettysburg (photo by Bruce Guthrie)

(part four of a four-part series)

Mary Koik, the namesake behind Mary Koik Communications, serves as the editor of the Civil War Trust’s Hallowed Ground magazine. Shes been talking with ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski about her work with the magazine, but in todays segment, shell share some of her other Civil War public history experience, too.

Chris Mackowski: From soup to nuts, how long does it take you, from when you conceptualize the magazine, to get it into my hands as a reader?

Mary Koik: Let’s say that right now (February) I am talking to feature authors about what to write for the fall magazine. I will shortly be getting in all the feature articles for the summer magazine, and we’re closing in on the full draft of the spring magazine in my email right now. So I’m working on three issues simultaneously at some capacity. My poor husband always says, “I’d love to toast you at dinner when an issue is ready, but I never know when it’s done!” 

The magazine is quarterly, so there’s about three months of the most intense work on a particular issue. That’s from having the preliminary edit on the text, through the layout, copy-editing, and then I always send out my feature articles out for a to another historian to read through.

I had a nasty moment with that when I was just taking over the magazine and there was something funky when a partner promotion came in. I’m sure it was someone just dashing it away quickly, and because it wasn’t one of “ours,” I didn’t look at it as closely. Anyway, the text conflated Joseph E. Johnston and Albert Sydney Johnston—and that was just not good. I have learned my lesson there and always have someone that’s knowledgeable fact-check things, just because it’s embarrassing and doesn’t reflect well on me or the organization.

CM: And you do all that and you’re a mom, too. How do you manage all of that?

MK: Well, the Civil War Trust magazine, the primary staff is Jeff, the graphic designer and creative director, and me — I’m technically the editorial director — and we do most of the work. I need the help of the Trust’s staff to make sure the news is accurate, and to write some pieces. And I work very closely with them to make sure the magazine reflects the organization’s priorities and what not. Not just for themes and feature stories, but what partners have initiatives we should tie in, what donors are best to profile. I’m now a contractor for the Trust, rather than a full-time employee. After having small kids, it was just a really efficient and flexible path for everyone involved. I did that at the beginning of 2015.

So I do the Trust magazine, and I also do their event programs and annual report, and help with other publications as they need it. But I’m no longer involved in the day-to-day communications and PR work. And now I also work with Mount Vernon, so I’ve gotten to branch out into different kinds of history there.

CM: What I find so fascinating about what you do is that you’ve been able to piece together this career, I don’t know if it’s freelancing or just freelance-like, but it’s a type of history job that fifteen years ago didn’t exist.

MK: Absolutely not. I think you’re right: I’m so lucky that I have been able to meet so many amazing people when I was at the Trust full-time that really made this possible. I have two little guys, my older is four, and when this will go online, my little one will be about nine months at that point.

What’s helped is technology, being able to work remotely. I’m mostly at my house in the further reaches of D.C., and the Trust office is downtown. The magazine’s creative director is in Minnesota, and other designers I’ve turned to are in Richmond, in Florida. So the internet really makes most of this possible with online tools, even digital photography. When I first started this, plenty of photographers weren’t even shooting digitally yet, so it was tough to get high-quality versions of photos. The world has really changed.

CM: And yet there’s still some of that old-fashioned networking and shaking hands and meeting people.

MK: Absolutely. Like I said, keeping costs down is always important and almost universally, authors I’ve approached to write for Hallowed Grounds have done so as donations of their time to the organization, because they believe in what we do. Hundreds of hundreds of thousands of words written by some amazing historians have been done for free.

Photographers donate their time as well, and the Trust will do its best to recognize them. There was one particular photographer, while we were doing this story about the hunt for John Wilkes Booth, and I kid you not, he spent overnight in the swamp where Booth was to try and get amazing low-light pictures—and he did it as a donation.

I don’t know if it’s my winning personality or what, but people believe in this magazine and are eager to see their work published.

CM: I think a lot of that ties back to the organization’s mission, too, which is something they really believe in. That, and the editor is a professional worth working with.

MK: Well, thank you. I think way back when Emerging Civil War started. I got handed a tremendous opportunity at the outset of my career when I became editor of this magazine. So I am a firm believer in Emerging Civil War, because you and I have kind of mirrored each other with this idea of younger generations of historians, and trying new things and trying to be the new wave of Civil War history. I can never say “thank you” enough to you and all of the authors there. I have never pitched a wild crazy idea of, “Hey does anyone want to write about blah,” and had you guys say “No.” It’s incredible.

CM: It’s been our privilege.

Before I wrap things up here, it seems likes this has been a wonderful story of growth and change and innovation. How do you see that panning out in your personal career going forward?

MK: I am incredibly lucky and so excited about the path I’ve been able to forge for myself. I work with the Trust and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, which is so much fun to work with because its such a different type of history. And so appropriate to talk about this month because their Board of Trustees has only ever been women. There’s never been a man on their board, and it dates back to when George Washington’s home was dilapidated and falling down, and one woman decided to rally the ladies of America to save Mount Vernon. If you want to talk about women’s empowerment and the ladies of historic preservation, they are your poster child for that.

Right now, I think I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and finding great stories. Whether it’s true military history of “the unit moved 3,000 yards to the tree line and then took cover behind a fence,” or something a bit more thematic, and talking about the juxtaposition of different eras or the interpretation of lost battlefields—I’m just going to keep trying to find the best stories I can and share them with people. I think they’re fascinating, and I hope other people do, too. The other thing I’m able to do is get those compelling stories and share them with the next generations. Right now, my older son is really into this stuff. He either wants to be an archaeologist or paleontologist, although I’m not entirely unconvinced that’s only because they both involve digging in the dirt. (both laugh)

CM: You just gave the same answer I give to my students: I love sharing the stories.

Is there anything I have not asked you that I should have?

MK: I think what I was really afraid you were going to ask me was if I would consider myself a historian, and I was going to say, “I don’t know—you tell me.” (laughs) I consider myself more of an editor and a writer and storyteller.

A couple of weeks ago I was at an event and talking to one of the other mothers at my son’s school about some of the stuff I had been reading that day. She said, “Wow, being a historian must be so cool.” It made me pause because I never defined myself as a historian. I never set out to be a historian. The fact that someone else thought of me as one. . . . I guess I straddle the line between historian and journalist, and I think that’s pretty cool.

A Conversation with Hallowed Ground‘s Mary Koik (part three)


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(photo by Bruce Guthrie)

(part three of a four-part series)

Mark Koik has been editor of the Civil War Trusts magazine Hallowed Ground for more than a decade. In yesterdays segment, told ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski, “Its calculus, trying to figure out what to do” for each issue. Today, she goes into more detail.

Chris Mackowski: You mentioned a minute ago the battle of balancing what goes into the magazine. Can you walk me through the process of putting together an issue?

Mary Koik: It can come from a lot of different places. Usually I try to start almost a year in advance trying to figure out what a theme will be. One of those lessons learned along the way is that people really like the idea of this being the “X” issue, where the content in those non-newsy recurring departments is tied to one theme or one battle or one something. I will start brainstorming sometimes a year in advance, sometimes more. 

Back at the beginning of the Sesquicentennial, I laid out what every issue during the anniversary would be, because you have to strike the balance between Eastern Theater and Western Theater. You also don’t want to have three issues in a row that all feature “X” character prominently, because they switched between theaters. You don’t want to have too much of any one good thing. All of these are great stories to tell—but yeah, I laid out every issue and what they would cover, and that was nice to know.

In addition to that, I’ll look at major projects we have coming in the next year or that we’ve just completed. I’ll look at gaps we have in our back catalogue and on our website, because people do go to that site all the time to research and look up information. For any number of reasons there are subjects that are covered more heavily. You type in “Gettysburg” into any search bar on any Civil War anything, you’ll get a number of results that dwarfs anything else. But every once in a while, you’ll find a surprising hole and you kind of have to go and backfill. One of the great examples of that was in 2010. I was looking and noticed we’ve never done anything significant on Chickamauga. This is going back not just to 1999 when the old Trust and APCWS [Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites] merged and became CWPT, but even going back through the archives of those previous organizations. We’d never done anything long-form on Chickamauga, and that was just the most glaring oversight in my opinion. So funny enough, we had a Chickamauga issue pretty soon after that.

CM: That’s all really big-picture strategy.

MK: It’s definitely big picture strategy. Sometimes it’s a matter of also trying to look toward partnerships the organization has. One of my favorite issues I did last year was about the first century of the US Navy, and I got to work with the folks at the Naval Historical Foundation on that, and that was just a ton of fun because it’s stuff that’s just really different from what we usually do. And the membership response on it was great, because we have a lot of readers who have served in the Navy, and this is part of their heritage, too.

So that’s part of it, working with partners. So that’s kind of how we get to a theme, and from there, we’ll look at trying to find particular stories to tell. If it’s a battle that we’ve done work at, I’ll try and see if there’s a way to weave in, specifically, land we’ve saved there and show that there’s Civil War history, but there’s also the organization’s history, too. Sometimes the stories of how the properties are acquired are pretty dramatic: the candlelight vigils in snowstorms and contentious public hearings and all of that. And, then sometimes, like the Spring issue I’m doing now, things are designed to tie into a Trust event, in this case our upcoming Annual Conference on the Virginia Peninsula.

When I do reach out to authors who have a background on a particular battle, I like to talk to them about those goals, like, “I’d love to get something that focuses on this half of the battle where the Trust has done work,” but I don’t want to place too much of a direct order off of a menu for a story. I want the historians to tell a good story, essentially. The word “story” is in “history” for a reason, and that is what people are pulled in by. I have a pretty good background, and I know a pretty decent amount of history, but I’m not the expert on the subject matter on a lot of these battles, and I want the person who is to tell me what those great personalities and instances and unexpected consequences and great tales are.

CM: You talk about recruiting writers to pull these articles together. I imagine you’ve been able to talk to a lot of people over the years. What’s it like to be able to work with some of the great talent in the field?

MK: Sometimes, it’s intimidating—I’m not going to lie. When I was first taking over, these people didn’t know me from Adam, and I was self-conscious about asking folks for things. It’s gotten easier over time, but sometimes, cold-calling or cold-emailing someone is tough. But at least now, I have copies and links to send them to things I’ve done and things that the Trust puts out if they aren’t familiar with it already. It’s something to be proud of and say, “Wouldn’t you like to be part of this?” That’s helped a lot. (laughs) The journalist in me is saying, “Have some great clips to send and show people.” (both laugh)

It’s exhilarating, too, to get to read the first draft of things. I guess I’ve gotten a reputation of getting pretty good at it over the years. There are some historians who say, “Don’t worry about it. I trust what you’re going to do. I know you’re going to need to burn 1,000 words off of this—just do what you have to.” Which is really good for the self-esteem, to have people trust you to take their work and re-format it or make it work for this media, and that you’re going to respect their voice and know that you’re still going to be accurate and meet everybody’s needs.

CM: So you get the stories, then it’s time to go into production and layout. How does that all work?

MK: I have the greatest partner in crime ever. It’s like the “music and lyrics by” on a song credit; I’m the words and then Jeff Griffith is my fantastic creative director.

Jeff and I first met during the second Gettysburg casino fight and he is from an advertising and graphic design background. Now, he is much more freelance, but at the time he was working full-time at Mens Health magazine, so he was getting his history on the weekends for his creative outlet. We work together to refine what some of the themes are going to be and really try to come up with compelling visuals for the stories and brainstorm where and how can we get good photos. Increasingly, it’s something that comes into play when you’re trying to figure what stories we want to tell in general.

There was a recent consideration where we were looking for things related to our annual conference this spring in the Hampton Roads area, which covers this huge swath of history: the Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, all on top of each other. There are so many great stories. So we have to go through, saying we know we want to tell some of these big-picture stories, what are some of the things that are still there that we can get powerful imagery of—things that are there and can convey stories? Naval battles, as dynamic as they might be if you were watching them live—a picture of just the open ocean water doesn’t really get the point across in a modern-day image. That’s something we talk about a lot: how can we illustrate this stuff? We do engravings and paintings and things like that.

I will also say that one of the things with working for a non-profit is trying to find things that are in the public domain or images that people will let us use for only modest re-print fees. We’re always trying to keep in mind that our members are paying for this, so we try to keep the cost down. They want good content and a good magazine, but they also want the organization proving it’s a good financial steward of their donations, so bearing that in mind is important.


Thus far, Mary’s been talking about the strategic planning required to pull together Hallowed Ground. Tomorrow, she’ll get into the trenches a little and talk about the production process involved in getting the magazine to your mailbox.

A Conversation with Hallowed Ground’s Mary Koik (part two)


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 Mary Koik (right) with Civil War Trust President O. James Lighthizer. (photo by Bruce Guthrie)

(part two of a four-part series)

ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski is talking this week with Mary Koik, editor of the Civil War Trusts magazine, Hallowed Ground. Yesterday, Mary shared a little about her professional background and how the chance the edit the magazine came up quite unexpectedly.

Chris Mackowski: So let’s circle back to the magazine. You had this sort of dropped in your lap as an unexpected opportunity. You’ve done fantastic things with that opportunity.

Mary Koik: Thank you. It’s a labor of love. 

While I was still was working full-time at the Trust, the magazine wasn’t my only job there. Something most people don’t know about the Trust is that everyone wears a huge number of hats. The amount of work the staff gets done per capita is remarkable compared to other non-profits. There’s focus on how things can be done efficiently and sharing the load. So I was also writing press releases and doing day-to-day PR. Over time, I had started taking over more PR work at the Trust, as opposed to the knocking on doors and putting in yard signs and things. It was a tremendous opportunity, and I took it and like to think I ran with it.

Some of my earlier issues—I don’t look back on and say, “I knocked that one out of the park.” But I think over time, I learned what the members really wanted to read about, and not just in terms of organizational news, but in terms of history, too. As a membership magazine, it’s important to balance those two things. A lot of our members now are on Facebook, they follow all our social media, they get newsletters, fundraising appeals. But that magazine remains one of the ways we know we reach everybody. So it’s really important to make sure that the achievements of the organization are portrayed consistently and accurately, but we also want to share solid history. That’s why people are members, because they love this stuff. So I’m always trying to find good stories to tell, especially in places that we’ve saved land and where we’re actively doing work.

It’s calculus, trying to figure out what to cover. I’m always trying to refine the content and, obviously, trying to improve the look and readability, too. We’ve done two complete redesigns of the magazine in the last ten years with some further tweaks along the way.

CM: It seems that if the magazine consisted of just promotional and fundraising material, people wouldn’t have the incentive to read it, but having that history gives people a reason to pick it up, while also having those messages you want to hit them with.

MK: That is the goal. You want to give them something that they want to read and learn about, and also then give them the update about, like, “Hey, these are properties that we’re seeking to buy.” Every other issue, we do the rundown on what closings we’ve had during the first or last half of the calendar year. Members give to these projects, and they want to know if it went through and the final disposition and what’s happening next, as well as how that contributes to what we’ve already done there. It’s great to say we got another two acres at Cold Harbor, but it’s maybe more important to say it was contiguous with other land we bought, and how we are now cumulatively up to “X.” There’s a lot of important stuff that people really do want to know. And you’re absolutely right, the history is just as important, because that’s why people belong to this organization, because they want to learn.

CM: That stewardship responsibility is so important, and I’ve always been impressed by how seriously you guys take it.

MK: It really is. It’s an ongoing effort by the whole organization to really keep people appraised of all of the good work that’s been done, because people are personally invested in it. In a lot of cases, people will send in a note with their donation forms and say, “This property matters to me because a regiment from my home town was there,” or, “I know an ancestor of mine fought in this battle,” so people really do have a personal connection to these properties, and want to close the circle and know what happens to them.

CM: You mentioned a second ago that the magazine has gone through two major makeovers. How would you characterize the magazine as being different now than when you took over?

MK: When I first took over, the printing and design, the process was completely different. Technology has had a big impact on all publications, even history ones. Like I said, digital photography was new and kind of novel still, and even just the layout programs were different. Back then, it was easier to make some kinds of changes in the layout as opposed to re-flowing the underlying text document, so there’s just been a whole ton of change in the process, and I think the visual shows that a lot, too. Also, if you look back at those old issues of Hallowed Ground, the departments were different. We didn’t do side-bars. There weren’t links listed for additional information online.

When I took over in the mid-2000s, the grass roots activism was so important, whereas for a period up until then, we’d been lucky just to be talking about land purchases and things like that. So for the magazine to have a way to talk about the challenges and the up-hill battles was something that was important to us. Now, I try to also revisit some of those ultimately successful campaigns and describe how it all came together in the big picture.

The way we think about photography has changed a lot. When I first started working on the magazine, some of the guidelines in place were that we shouldn’t have any buildings, monuments, or people in photos because we want to just show the land. Coming from a journalism background, I wanted to put more things in the foreground to make these pictures more compelling. I also wanted to reach out to modern artists who paint period pictures and things like that.

So we really have changed a lot over time. It always is evolving. It’s never going to be “stick a fork in it, we have the perfect format, everything’s done.” We do keep tweaking it every couple of issues. If you pay close enough attention, you’ll see small changes. It might be just a little different font that allows better readability in the captions—things like that are always being tweaked. Every few years, I joke I have to make the font bigger, because in a history magazine, your audience tends to skew to be older, and the last thing you want is for people to struggle to read it.

I think if you looked back at an issue from 2005 and a current one, you’d probably be pretty surprised they’re the same publication. We’ve changed the look and feel pretty dramatically.

CM: To use the old expression, “This ain’t your grandfather’s Civil War magazine.”

MK: Thank you for that—it means a lot. We want it to be beautiful. We want it to be something that you’d pick up at a doctor’s office or that you’d hand off to a friend. And we try to balance really hardcore history with “hey, did you know,” something a little more digestible. It’s hopefully something we achieve.

CM: It’s a beautiful magazine—and I think that’s something you can say across the board with all the Civil War magazines out right now. I don’t know if it’s just the environment or the business competition, but everyone has raised the bar to make these super-attractive magazines.

MK: I think you’re absolutely right. The days of the black and white pictures, and the engraving that gets bad moray lines, where it gets wiggly when reproduced—those days are gone. You have to be more dynamic and compelling. Part of it is that people are now so used to getting multi-media packages and crazy dynamic stuff online. The dead-tree edition can’t have video embedded in it, so you better make it compelling in some way.

CM: (laughs) I’ve never heard that before, “the dead-tree edition.”

Do you guys see yourselves as competition with the other magazines, or because you’re a membership magazine, that’s kind of a different beast?

MK: I think it’s a very different beast. I’m very lucky to be insulated from the issues of selling ads. Our subscription number is the membership number plus some additional partner groups and things like that, so I think it’s a very different beast.

It’s a small community, so I think we’re more comrades in arms than competitors.


In tomorrow’s segment, Mary will talk more about the balancing act that goes into setting the editorial agenda for Hallowed Ground.