Susan Matt

Oxford University Press

Homesickness today is dismissed as a sign of immaturity: it's what children feel at summer camp. But in the nineteenth century it was recognized as a powerful emotion. When gold miners in California heard the tune "Home, Sweet Home," they sobbed. When Civil War soldiers became homesick, army doctors sent them home, lest they die. Such images don't fit with our national mythology, which celebrates the restless individualism of immigrants who supposedly left home and never looked back.