Free Public Programs Related to New Civil War Exhibit in May
Press Release · Friday, April 16, 2010

Washington, DC

The National Archives presents a special series of programming including author lectures, panel discussions, a musical performance, and a film screening throughout May inspired by its new major exhibition marking the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Discovering the Civil War.

The programs are free and open to the public and will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, Washington, DC. Use the Special Events entrance on the corner of 7th Street and Constitution Avenue. For information on National Archives Public Programs, call (202) 357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.

Discovering the Civil War opens in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, on Friday, April 30, and runs through September 6, 2010. The exhibit will peel back 150 years of accumulated analysis, interpretation, and opinion to reveal a Civil War that is little-known and even more rarely displayed. Discovering the Civil War offers visitors the chance to join researchers in unlocking secrets, solving mysteries, and uncovering unexpected events in Civil War records of the National Archives. Museum Spring/Summer hours (through Labor Day) are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily. The exhibition is presented by the Center for the National Archives Experience and the Foundation for the National Archives.

Author Lecture: Justice in Blue and Gray: A Legal History of the Civil War— Friday, May 7, at noon
Stephen C. Neff offers the first comprehensive study of Civil War legal issues in his book, Justice in Blue and Gray, and argues that many of these issues resonate to this day. Neff examines the lawfulness of secession, executive and legislative governmental powers, laws that govern the conduct of war, and even international law, where the Civil War broke new legal ground. A book signing will follow the program.

Film: Major Dundee —Saturday, May 8, at noon
During the last winter of the Civil War, cavalry officer Amos Dundee (played by Charlton Heston) leads a contentious troop of Army regulars, Confederate prisoners, and scouts on an expedition into Mexico to destroy a band of Apaches who have been raiding U.S. bases in Texas. Directed by Sam Peckinpah. (1965; 123 minutes)

Performance: No Army Without Music: The Songs of the Civil War— Thursday, May 13, at 7 p.m.
Come for an evening of music and history from the Civil War era. Within the songs of the Union and the Confederacy—songs of abolition, sentimental ballads, portrayals of army life, and patriotic anthems—are the attitudes, values, and beliefs of a nation at war with itself. Sung by soldiers in camps and on the march, the songs were learned by the people at home and performed at rallies and family musicales. Michael Lasser places the songs in historical context. Performers include singer Cindy Miller and pianist Alan Jones.

Panel Discussion: Women on the Civil War Battlefield— Thursday, May 20, at 7 p.m.
During the Civil War, women served on the battlefield and behind the lines as soldiers, spies, scouts, smugglers, and frontline doctors and nurses. DeAnne Blanton, senior military archivist at the National Archives, moderates a discussion of their experiences. Panelists include Jane E. Schultz, associate professor of English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University; Theresa R. McDevitt, interim dean of libraries, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Lauren Cook Wike, director of annual fund and alumni affairs, Methodist University.

Author Lecture: John Brown’s Trial— Wednesday, May 26, at noon
John Brown hoped to incite the slaves in Virginia to a rebellion when he attacked the armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859. Historians have credited this raid with rousing the country and accelerating the onset of the Civil War. In John Brown’s Trial, author Brian McGinty argues that the actual turning point was Brown’s trial and not the raid. Brown eloquently argued the case against slavery in a trial that reverberated around the world and made him a martyr to the cause of freedom. A book signing will follow the program.

Panel Discussion: The Jewish Experience During the Civil War— Thursday, May 27, at 7 p.m.
To commemorate Jewish American Heritage Month, a panel discusses the contributions of Jewish men and women during the Civil War. Each panelist will discuss a “key text,” including documents and events related to including General Grant’s Order No. 11, which called for the expulsion of all Jews in his military districts comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky. Dr. Gary P. Zola, executive director of the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor of the American Jewish Experience at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institution of Religion, will moderate a panel including Eli Evans, former president of the Revson Foundation and author of Judah P. Benjamin: The Jewish Confederate; and Dr. Pamela S. Nadell, director of the Jewish Studies Program at American University and co-editor of Women and American Judaism: Historical Perspectives.

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For more information about Discovering the Civil War or to obtain images of items included in the exhibition, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at (202) 357-5300.

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