JMC professor prescreens documentary that will air on PBS


Fred Endres does research at Standing Rock Cemetery for the documentary, “The ‘Sojer Boys’ of Portage County. Photo by Tom Song. Photo courtest of Fred Endres

Alyssa Flynn

Journalism and mass communication professor Fred Endres prescreened 56 minutes of his 90-minute documentary, “The ‘Sojer Boys’ of Portage County,” an account of seven soldiers during the Civil War Saturday.

During its two-year production, journalism and mass communication and history students helped Endres. Endres said it was his goal to get students involved. They helped research, voice-overs and graphics.

“I have always been a student of the Civil War, fascinated by the individual stories of the common soldier, not a history of the war or the big generals or politicians,” Endres said.

He said wanted to do a micro-history.

Endres collected diaries, letters and photos from historical societies and the descendants of the seven soldiers. Five of the seven soldiers were farm boys, one was a teacher and the other a blacksmith.

“Going through the stuff was very different.” Endres said. “Those guys weren’t there, but through their diaries, letters and descendants, it was like I was almost interviewing them, which is really neat.”

Though getting some of the information was easy, transcribing and finding photos was harder.

“It was a lot of fun, but that was probably the hardest part,” Endres said. “They only had a 6th grade education, they did not let grammar, spelling or punctuation get in their way in writing a nice long letter. ”

The documentary tells about seven soldiers’ reactions to a new training area in different cities such as Cleveland and Cincinnati.

“Seeing the war through their eyes was the most fascinating,” Endres said.

The documentary will premiere on Western Reserve PBS Sunday at 10 p.m.

Contact Alyssa Flynn at [email protected].