Ethan Morris says his interest in history comes from the trips he and his dad would take to visit history museums and battlegrounds as a kid.
Morris, whose parents are Danny and Rebecca Morris, said a battlefield in Shiloh, Tenn., which had been left the way it was originally, gave him the opportunity to see the story of the battlefield.
“History was a human story to me,” he said. “You study how humans act and react.”
After graduating from Bullitt East High School in 2010, Morris went to Western Kentucky University to study history and social studies with a concentration in secondary education.
Morris, now a 21-year-old senior at WKU, will be using his interest in history as he conducts research funded by a Lifetime Experience Grant awarded by the school’s Office of Scholar Development.
Interviews done by the Freedmen Inquiry Commission in Louisville in November 1863 will serve as the basis of Morris’ research.
Morris said the interviews were with prominent citizens, judges and military personnel discussing African-American freedom, and how well they were able to manage it and take care of themselves.
Over 20 free African-Americans living close to Louisville were also interviewed, Morris said.
The interviews became the focus of Morris’ research after a worker at Filson Historical Society in Louisville referred him to the interviews while he was doing research on Union soldiers views on slavery there.
The unique thing about the interviews, Morris said, is that not many people know about them and as a result, Morris wanted to study them.
“There’s not a lot of interviews done,” he said.
While the questions remained the same throughout the interviews, people would open up in their responses and talk about their lives, Morris said.
This information will help Morris form a better idea of what Louisville was like at the time of the interviews. He also plans to use secondary sources to research the people discussed in the interviews.
Morris said he hopes his research will make more people aware of the interviews.
“The more work I can do, the more I can help the historical community,” he said.
Morris said his research will be completed by the middle of next year and he plans to write an article about his findings and have it published.