Earlier this month, Civil Discourse quietly passed a milestone...our blog turned two! The new year and our blogging venture's anniversary offer an opportunity to look back at what we've accomplished in 2016 and what lays ahead in 2017.
Since our inception in January, 2015, we've written nearly 150 posts exploring various aspects of the Civil War. In 2016, we pondered the role of public historians in debates over Confederate monuments, explored a case of Civil War suicide and pension fraud, and examined Reconstruction through the lens of the U.S. Lifesaving Service. We poked around Texan prison camps, uncovered the secrets of Fredericksburg National Cemetery, and helped you find your Civil War ancestors. Our authors wrote plenty this past year, and you can visit our top ten posts of the past year here.
In 2016, over 12,000 visitors checked out Civil Discourse over 15,000 times, generating over 21,000 views. Of course, all our authors are humbled to be able to reach such a wide audience. It's also gratifying because these numbers represent growth from 2015; our site visitation grew nearly 25% in the past 12 months! We take this is a sign that our blog is headed in the right direction. We also know that the more posts we write and the larger our post archive grows, the more likely folks will stumble across our blog as they surf the web. Our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has also grown tremendously.
In 2017, our project should continue to grow in a number of ways. First, we're looking to bring in more guest bloggers. Civil Discourse reflects the interests of its authors. More authors means more perspectives and more stories, perhaps into fields we've explored little thus far: slavery, Reconstruction, medicine, material culture, and more. We've got several guest authors in the pipeline, so be on the lookout for new faces and new stories. Second, as many of you may know, we once upon a time offered a monthly newsletter to keep you abreast of the latest on our blog. It fell by the wayside last year, in part due to demands on time and effort. We have plans to revive our newsletter in 2017, likely in a more manageable quarterly format. Keep an eye on your inboxes if you've signed up for the newsletter (which you can still do on our front page). Third, we hope to develop consistency in our blog offerings in 2017. In 2015, we all wrote like the devil...over 100 posts in the first year alone! Last year, we naturally slowed down, but we also tended to post in spurts: six posts one month, one post the next. In 2017, our goal is to keep shedding light on the past while telling great stories, but to do so in a consistently, timely manner.
Finally, we simply want to say thanks. This project has given a bunch of young graduate students and public historians a place to share their interests and unravel bits and pieces of the past. It's exciting to have two years under the belt, and we look forward to year three! We hope you'll join us for the ride!
Zac, Katie, Becky, and Becca