Learning about Civil War History from Motel Guest Directories

2010 August 4
by ASHP Staff

I spent July 2010 driving across the United States, and spent many nights holed up in motel rooms in cities I’d never been in before.  I quickly came to rely on guest directories, or those binders in every room that list some places to eat, maybe include a map or two and otherwise orient the disoriented.

One of these directories was of particular note. While staying in Springfield, MO, the motel we stayed in (not pictured at right) contained an interesting history of the civil war- interesting so far as I hadn’t necessarily heard this take on the events.

The first paragraph of the history of Springfield wrote “Missouri was proudly founded as a slave-holding state.” It then went on to talk about the civil war and mentioned that Springfield was the site of “The Battle of Springfield, a proud confederate victory.” (Although I’m not a historian, I’m making the assumption that they were talking about The Battle of Wilson’s Creek, which was actually a Confederate victory). Tourists were then directed to sites where they could see graves and monuments to “confederate heroes who bravely fought and died for Missouri.”

And then there was no further mention of the Civil War– or any war at all, it kind of went on about what a great place Missouri is for families and fun.

I’m hopeful that people are not learning their history from hotel guest directories, and historians have bigger battles to wage over historical accuracy; however, I think its important to be aware how many competing narratives of history there are out there.

Last 5 posts by ASHP Staff

No Comments

Comments are closed for this entry.