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The Clements Bookworm: “The Importance of Companion Animals to U.S. Civil War Soldiers,” Author Conversation with Marcy Sacks

May 20 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Historian Marcy S. Sacks discusses her research examining the role of pets and other domesticated animals in helping U.S. Civil War soldiers both endure the trauma of war and stay connected with their loved ones at home. Using soldiers’ letters and drawings, she argues that the men’s attention to animals helped them grapple with the brutality and boredom that marked their military service. Cats, dogs, mice, pigs, and other animals served the critical function of softening the wartime experience and enabled soldiers to communicate – especially to women and children – through discourses of sympathy and sentimentalism, thereby reassuring their families of their continued humanity. By demonstrating that they remained capable of holding and expressing loving emotions, they showed that they would safely return home at war’s end.

The Cook! [1864] Edgar H. Klemroth Sketches, Clements Library Image Bank.

Dr. Sacks, author of two books, is the Julian S. Rammelkamp Professor and chair of the History Department at Albion College (Michigan). Her research and teaching focus is on African American history and race in the United States.

This episode is generously sponsored by

Betty Bishop and Diane Hummel

The Clements Bookworm: Online Event for History Lovers

Clements Library Fellows Dr. Richard Bell (Professor of History, University of Maryland) and Latoya M. Teague (PhD Candidate in African & African Diaspora Studies, The University of Texas at Austin) will join Maggie Vanderford (Librarian for Instruction & Engagement, Clements Library) to discuss the teaching of Black history with primary sources.

The roundtable conversation will address various approaches to Black history pedagogy in university lectures, secondary school classrooms, and in library primary source instruction. From curriculum design to syllabus and lesson plan creation, join the conversation to think more deeply about how to teach the triumphs and the heartbreaks of the past in ways that are both informed and intentional.

Where: Register at You will receive your link to join the meeting via a confirmation email as well as a reminder email one hour before we begin.

View upcoming topics and past recordings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I join the meeting?

You can join our Zoom meeting by clicking the meeting link or going to and entering in the meeting ID. 

For a tutorial on how to join a meeting, please see this brief Zoom video.

How do I join computer/device audio?
On most devices, you can join computer/device audio by clicking Join Audio, Join with Computer Audio, or Audio to access the audio settings. Learn more about connecting your audio.

Can I Use Bluetooth Headset?
Yes, as long as the Bluetooth device is compatible with the computer or mobile device that you are using.

What kinds of books will be discussed?

We are asking panelists to discuss their favorite history books. Some, but not all, will feature a connection to the primary source collections at the Clements Library. Upcoming themes will be shared at

Will I be on video?

A webcam is not required to join the book circle and public participants will NOT appear on video. Only the panelists speaking will have their video and microphone active-- guests are encouraged to type in your comments and questions via the chat function.

Can I view a recording and a list of the resources discussed?

Yes! Feel free to register even if you can't attend the meeting, and you will receive a follow-up email with the resource list and video link.

Please see Recordings & Resource Lists for an archive of all past episodes of the Clements Bookworm.

If you need additional assistance, please contact Anne at


May 20
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Event Categories:
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Registration Link