Saturday, May 1, 2010

Modeling History

A recent post and photo relating to the R. E. Lee Camp Soldiers' Home in Richhmond drew email from Bobby Edwards, who operates a site relating to the Confederate War Memorial Chapel that stands on the grounds of the old soldiers' home.

What drew my attention, though, were his photos of a tabletop model of the grounds of Lee Camp as it appeared 100 years ago. (Go to the Photos and Videos section of Bobby's site.)

I've studied plat plans and insurance maps of many of the Confederate soldiers' homes. I've visited several of the extant home buildings in Oklahoma and Mississippi. I've looked at stacks of photos and postcards of each of the places, and I've read lengthy descriptions of how the inmates spent their days there. But there was something about that tabletop model that made the home seem much more real.

As I write this, there's a museum exhibit specialist in Louisville working on a virtual model of the Kentucky Confederate Home. The Home itself is long gone and much of the property is covered with residential development. The exhibit artist has done side-by-side comparisons of contemporary and period photos to "place" the buildings on the landscape and "dress" the old buildings. He's studied stories of furnishings and wallcoverings, and his ultimate objective is to create a  fly-around-fly-through model of the Home. (The bare-bones work I've seen so far is incredible!)

I'm new to this application of computer design technology. Are there other writers, historians, or buffs who've used modeling to understand long-ago events? Was it useful?

I like to hear about it.

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