Project Critiques

Review: The Normal School Company & Normal School Company History

The Normal School Company & Normal School Company History. . Created by Professor Allen Ballard’s graduate seminar. Reviewed February 3, 2019.

Normal School Company introduces the story of the Company E of the 44th NY, comprised of students, faculty, and alumni of the Albany Normal School. The website has several links, detailing the history of the Normal School, the men of the company, the battles they fought, and the various cemeteries that became the final resting place for the men who fought.

Part of the Normal School Company’s story featuring a quote from Normal School Professor, Albert N. Husted

The home page for this website introduces the creator, purpose, and argument for the site. They are intrinsically linked. The Normal School of the past and today’s university has presented opportunities for its students to be on a world stage and participate in noteworthy and life-changing events. Created for a graduate seminar led by Professor Allen Ballard, the students hope to draw attention to the “dramatic roots” of the University at Albany, specifically, the 44th’s creation under two Normal School professors. The page on the normal school history illustrates why the normal school was created in the first place. It acted as one of the only opportunities for many young western New Yorkers to be educated. The story takes a turn to mention Rodney Kimball and Albert N. Husted, the founders of the company, and their attempts to build a Normal School Company. The Battles page breaks down the battles the company fought in (as well as the larger context of the battles), before the absorption into a larger company in 1862. Finally, the Men and Memorials lists the men of the 44th as well as where some were buried. By creating this project, the authors wanted to encourage interest in the Albany, the Normal School, and participation of both in the Civil War.

Other than the Battles page, the website gives no other sources. Most of the website seems to be based off of a book written by Eugene Nash and some letters written by members of the company. This detracts from the project because every section could use sources, either for verification or to help researchers,

Footnotes are given in this section but are not featured elsewhere on the site

The story is based off of the Normal School Company during the Civil War, I think that about sums up its audience: anyone interested in Normal School history or the Civil War (probably both). I had run across the page while doing research on the former. That being said, the information given is easily readable and is a cool story. I don’t know how a random Googler might come across the website but they might have a good time reading.

Other than clicking different tabs on the site, it is not interactive. I don’t think this necessarily adds or distracts from the site. If the page was redone, they could use maps for the different battles and memorials, and give pictures (if they exist) of the members of the company. Because it lacks interactive qualities, this website could easily be made into a packet. While the digitization does aid in keyword searches, it is not necessary in terms of helping with understanding.

One Comment

  • Maeve Kane

    (Watch your capitalization of Normal School!)

    If presenting this online doesn’t add anything, and may have some drawbacks like the difficulties in adding footnotes, what do you think the purpose of putting it online was? This was done by a class a lot like ours, but in the 90s.