The question of my area of specialization in relation to historical study comes up fairly frequently. This especially happens when people find out about my educational background or that I am an adjunct professor. My challenge is that I have such a wide variety of interests my patterns of study go something like this:
As an undergraduate I was interested in the American Civil War and read almost exclusively in that field. I did have access to Dr. William Gillette’s collection of letters from New Jersey troops and even did a paper using those sources. On the other hand for an internship I also worked with Monmouth Battlefield State Park looking for Washington’s camp on the night before the battle – so I got a little Revolutionary War experience too.
At MTSU I started out in Public History but quickly switched to traditional history. I discovered an interest in Cherokee History, Tennessee History, and the Age of Jackson. After leaving MTSU I went to work at two Civil War battlefields which rekindled my interest in the Civil War.
Working for the Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church fostered an interest in Christian History specifically Adventist but also Millerism and other religious movements. The time period (1840s-1860s) also rekindled my interest in the Jacksonian and Civil War eras though with a different slant. I also created three courses: Age of Jackson, History of the South, From Colony to Nation which added to my studies.
Now working for Colonial Williamsburg I find myself reading/studying in the Colonial-Revolutionary periods in American History. Guess it is a good thing my wife doesn’t mind me collecting all these books!