Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Colleen Wright
PORTALES – Eastern New Mexico University professor of history Dr. Donald Elder III just had his fourth book, Love Amid the Turmoil: The Civil War Letters of William and Mary Vermilion, accepted for publication.
The book is composed of letters written between a husband and wife, William and Mary Vermilion, while he was at war. According to Dr. Elder, this book is very different than other books of its kind. "There are many books with letters from the husband writing home to the wife," he said, "but this will be the first that contains actual letters from the wife to the husband.
"It was very hard during time of war for soldiers to carry letters while traveling; somehow, William managed to keep every letter Mary ever wrote him. William was away at war from September 1862 to August 1865; during that time Mary wrote him a letter each day."
Dr. Elder, chair of the Department of History, stumbled on to these letters while working on another book. He came upon the materials using "First Search" software, and the letters happened to be located in the library of the University of California San Diego, Dr. Elder's alma mater. The noon-time basketball player has been working on this manuscript since the summer of 1998.
It was hard work because it involved typing all of the letters, and eliminating information that was not useful. He also researched all of the people that the letters spoke of, putting in footnotes for the readers to better understand who the people were.
Dr. Elder is currently busy editing a series titled History of Rocketry and Astronautics. However, he does have another story in mind. He recently inherited a diary kept by one of his ancestors while traveling the Santa Fe Trail. "There are some books reminiscing about the travel on this trail, but his will be a play-by-play on what really went on daily,' says Dr. Elder.
Dr. Elder says that there were many people that helped him put the new book together. "ENMU has been very helpful throughout this process. The Golden Library purchased many research materials that helped me. Also, my work study students have been a great help. They helped organize and put many typing hours into the project."
In addition to his duties at Eastern New Mexico University, "The Doc" also does play-by-play for ENMU varsity football and basketball games, and is an on-air personality at KSMX/KSEL radio, including doing a segment on "This Day in History" each morning.
ENMU history professor Don Elder has had his fourth book accepted for publication. This one will contain letters between a husband and wife during the Civil War.
(photo by Colleen Wright)