What’s In a Name?

13 01 2011

I know some folks who get hacked off when they’re referred to as “buffs”.  I guess I have a different take on it.  I think anyone with more than a passing interest in the Civil War is a “Civil War Buff”.  Think sets and subsets.  “Buff” is a general term to me.  Kind of like “Asian” or “Oriental”.  To paraphrase Jane Curtin as Pat Nixon, “Not all Asians are Chinese, but all Chinese are Asians”.  So we can start with the universe of Civil War Buff and break it down further from there.  I think I fall into the universe, but in the subset of “student” I guess, or maybe just “studier” as “student” might imply I have some definite goal in mind.  Other subsets might include “historian” – as I’ve said before in my mind that’s someone with an advanced history degree.  And of course you may fall into more than one subset – “author” is one I place myself in because I do write about Civil War subjects, both here and for compensation elsewhere.  So in my mind James McPherson is a Civil War historian, former teacher, author and yes, buff.  So for all of you who rail against being called a buff, just say “don’t lump me in with guys like McPherson, Catton, Freeman, and Harsh.  I’m SERIOUS!”

See here for image source.