Student Researcher Profile
Noelle Malmborg-Reilly (’15) is in involved in a year-long project researching male friendship between Union Army Civil War soldiers. Her research is into how American Victorian culture viewed male friendship, and working forward from work by historians like James Macpherson, Earl Hess, David Blight, and Bell Irving Wiley. Noelle is specifically researching how men expressed comradeship with the context of the Civil War.
Her work will involve reading widely in the letters and diaries of soldiers, and will be examining collections of letters in the SLU Libraries Special Collections. She also will be heading to Washington D.C. in January to work with archival collections in the Library of Congress, a trip partially funded by a grant from the History Department.
She seeks to understand the unique wartime circumstances that allowed Union soldiers to form such strong bonds with one another. Integral to this is searching through primary documents to find out how men interacted with one another in camp, and how they fought for and with one another on the battlefield. To understand soldiers’ friendships in their appropriate context, she also plans to research the ideals of 19th century American masculinity to see how they would have influenced the norms of contemporary male relationships.
It is her hope to shed light on the prevalence of this now rare form of intimate friendship in the Civil War armies and—instead of viewing these friendships from a 21st century perspective—to interpret them based on the ideals of their time.