Sacred Memories: The Civil War Monument Movement in Texas

Book Cover Image
Kelly McMichael (Author)


War memorials are symbols of a community's sense of itself, the values it holds dear, and its collective memory. Kelly McMichael takes readers on a tour of Civil War monuments throughout the state, and in doing so tells the story of each monument and its creation. McMichael explores Texans' motivations for erecting Civil War memorials in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—tumultuous times of "severe depression, social unrest, the rise of Populism, mass immigration, urbanization, industrialization, imperialism, lynching, and Jim Crow laws." McMichael argues these monuments were erected to preserve the memory of the Civil War dead by instilling in future generations the values of patriotism, duty, and courage. This was accomplished by creating a shared memory and identity "based on a largely invented story" that anchors communities "against social and political doubt." Her focus is the human story of each monument, the characters involved in its creation, and the sacred memories held dear to them.

Kelly McMichael grew up in Midlothian, Texas, and attended Texas A&M University, earning a B.A. in history and English. She then completed an M.A. at Baylor University in American Studies and a Ph.D. in history at the University of North Texas. She is also the author of Transforming the Humanities Classroom for the 21st Century and Waxahachie, Texas: Where Cotton Reigned King. She lives in Denton with her husband, two children, two dogs, and a cat.