For Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the meaning of life was service. From the time Chamberlain dedicated himself to study as an undergraduate at Bowdoin College in 1848, to the point at which he retired from public life, he viewed service to the common good as the purpose of a well-lived life, and a wellspring of greatness. Chamberlain had many opportunities to enact this ethic - from the battlefields of the Civil War, where he distinguished himself as perhaps the best of the citizen-generals, to the halls of the governor's mansion of Maine, where he fought innumerable political skirmishes.
Bowdoin College, Chamberlain's alma mater, was fortunate to enjoy Chamberlain's service ethic as well - through his tenure as a member of the faculty before the Civil War, and as President of the College after it. Something about Bowdoin had clearly influenced Chamberlain, and something about Chamberlain has become very much a part of Bowdoin. Perhaps it was with Chamberlain in mind that William DeWitt Hyde penned "The Offer of the College" in 1906:
To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms
And cooperate with others for common ends
This digital archive is meant to document the career and service of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, one of Bowdoin College's most illustrious alumni. It contains documents, images, and other materials most from the generous holdings of Bowdoin College itself that offer users the opportunity to explore Chamberlain's life and legacy. It has been prepared by a collaboration of Bowdoin College faculty members, students, and staff.
David Kelley Thomson '08
David Thomson has been interested in the Civil War since he did a project in eighth grade on the state of Maine at the battle of Gettysburg. A native of Kittery, Maine, Thomson has often found himself focusing on the famous soldiers from the Pine Tree State. Since 2002, Thomson has been a Civil War reenactor with the 3rd Maine Company A. Thomson has spoken from the elementary to the collegiate level on the topic of the life of the Civil War soldier. One of the major reasons that he applied to Bowdoin College was the rich Civil War tradition associated with the college.
Thomson's honor thesis entitled, "Oliver Otis Howard: the Paradox of the Christian General" explores the life of another famous Bowdoin general and the role he played in the Civil War. In his thesis, Thomson explores the military career of O.O. Howard, who was known as the "Christian General." By examining Howard's conversion and subsequent military service, Thomson not only examines a facet of Howard's life that scholars have not critically analyzed, but he also takes a deeper look into gender constructions in nineteenth-century America.
As a 2007 Gibbons Summer Fellow, David spent countless hours poring over the Chamberlain archive, deciphering original documents and transcribing them for this scholarly repository (see Documents). Gibbons internships, provided through the gift of John A. Gibbons Jr., Class of 1964, enable students to work with faculty on projects using technology to explore interdisciplinary areas and develop fresh approaches to the study of complex problems. The internships are coordinated through Bowdoin's Office of Information Technology, which helps faculty members use new educational and information technologies to enhance their teaching and research.
David N. Israel
Associate Director of Communications for New Media
David Israel initially conceived of the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Digital Archive after he started working at Bowdoin in 2004 and became excited by the resources available at the College about this illustrious historical figure. He worked to bring together the primary scholar, archivist, and student-scholar/researcher to bring the project to fruition. In collaboration with that team, he was also the person who built this website.
At Bowdoin he supports and enhances the academic priorities of the College through the creative use of new media, developing engaging academic media projects. These have included web, multimedia, Google Earth mapping, GIS, and interactive applications.
Before coming to Bowdoin, David spent a decade building brands as a creative director, technologist and strategist. He has worked at Disney, Young & Rubicam, USWeb/CKS (marchFIRST), and Active/Interactive. His clients have ranged from Fortune 100 companies to non-profit cultural institutions. Prior to that, he was in the fine art business at top galleries in Boston and New York City. He holds a B.A. in Art History from The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Richard H. F. Lindemann
Director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives
Before coming to Bowdoin, he was associate director and head of technical services at the Mandeville Special Collections Library, University of California, San Diego. Previously, Lindemann was an archivist and special collections librarian at Emory University and the University of Virginia.
Lindemann earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors in history at the University of Georgia, a master's degree and doctorate in Medieval European History at the University of Virginia and an M. Librarianship at Emory University. He also holds a certificate from the Modern Archives Institute of the National Archives and Records Administration. He has participated on panels and programs at local, regional and national archival and library conferences, has served as a consultant on archival practices, and has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications.
He is the author of The Dr. Seuss Catalog An Annotated Guide to Works by Theodor Geisel in All Media, Writings About Him, and Appearances of Characters and Places in the Books, Stories and Films
Associate Professor of History
Patrick Rael is a specialist in African-American history, who earned his Ph.D. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995. He is the author of numerous essays and books, including Black Identity and Black Protest in the Antebellum North (North Carolina, 2002), which earned Honorable Mention for the Frederick Douglass Prize from the Gilder Lerhman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition. He is also the editor of African-American Activism before the Civil War: The Freedom Struggle in the Antebellum North (Routledge, 2008), and co-editor of Pamphlets of Protest: An Anthology of Early African-American Protest Literature (Routledge, 2001). He has earned fellowships from, among others, the Library of Congress; Smithsonian Institution; American Historical Association; Gilder Lerhman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition (Yale U.); the Center for the Study of Religion (Princeton U.); American Antiquarian Society; and Library Company of Philadelphia. Rael is a committed pedagogue who has written extensively about teaching, has contributed to the development of African-American history curricula, and has for over a decade led seminars and workshops on teaching American history in primary and secondary schools. (see Faculty Page).