Independent Minds, Working Together

Barton Myers '03

Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Cornell University

Since graduating from Wooster in 2003, Barton Myers has earned a master’s and a doctorate in southern history at the University of Georgia, published his first book, won a Guggenheim Fellowship to completed his dissertation, and landed a post-doctoral fellowship in military history at Cornell University. He also found time to get married.

Civil War history is Myers’ passion. At Wooster, his Independent Study focused on the Confederates’ use of irregular guerilla units in border regions and behind Union lines. In the course of his research, he came across the story of Daniel Bright, a suspected Confederate irregular who was captured and executed by Union troops in North Carolina in 1863.

Myers devoted a couple of sentences to the incident in his I.S., but when he got to the University of Georgia, he decided to dig deeper for his master’s thesis and trace the origins of the local guerilla conflict of which it was part. The result formed the basis for his first book, Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865, published in 2009 by LSU Press.

Last year, Myers received a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship — one of only 10 awarded nationwide — to help support the completion of his dissertation. Titled “Rebels Against a Rebellion: Southern Unionists in Secession, War and Remembrance,” he hopes to turn it into his second book.

Looking back on the transition to graduate school, Myers says it quickly became apparent how well Wooster had prepared him.

“There was a real difference, even compared to people coming from places like Amherst,” he says. “I knew generally where I wanted to go and I had ideas for publishing much earlier. As a historian, I felt I had a mastery of the literature in my field and confidence in my ability that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

“I can’t say enough about the history department at Wooster. I always felt like I had many advisers, not just one. I really think it’s one of the best small college history departments in the country.”