One of the illustrations from Josh Franklin’s Far Out Family Blog. Illustration by Isaac Schumacher

Editor’s Note:Josh Franklin’s Far Out Family Blog won third place in Division A of the National Newspaper Association’s Newspaper and Education Contest.

Download the complete NIE story and illustration files at

by Anne Coburn-Griffis, Director of Educational Services, The Lima News

The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War began in April 2011. As the State of Ohio held central placement both politically and logistically in the growing United States, Ohio played a key role both in providing troops, military officers, and supplies to the Union army. A working knowledge of the American Civil War and Ohio’s role in the conflict is required learning for our state’s primary and secondary students.

The ONA Newspaper-in-Education (NIE) committee observes the 150th anniversary by producing a ten-chapter serial story specifically written to provide Ohio teachers with an active teaching tool about Ohio during the Civil War as well as the advancements our state made during that time. The serial story, titled “Josh Franklin’s Far Out Family Blog,” studies actual historic figures, places, and events of Civil War Ohio through the narrator’s online study of his Civil War ancestor’s letters and diary entries. It also includes technological advances made by Ohioans from 1861-1865 and compares the communication technologies of that time to those experienced by today’s students. Each story installment includes reading comprehension questions, activities for further study and a vocabulary list.

“Josh Franklin’s Far Out Family Blog” was written by Northwest Ohio author Steven Coburn-Griffis and illustrated by Bluffton University fine-art student Isaac Schumacher. Jerry Mossbarger of The (Jackson) Telegram was the committee’s historical consultant for this 2011 project. The story is free for Ohio publication in 2012 with complete chapters and illustrations available for download at

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