The civil war history consortium

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of Greater Philadelphia

c/o The Union League of Philadelphia, 140 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia PA 19102

John Meko, Chair of the Board, 215-587-5583,

Laura Blanchard, Executive Director, 215-985-1445,

The Civil War in Philadelphia
Exhibitions and Events 2011-2015 (updated 1/31/11)

During the Civil War, Philadelphia was an important manufacturing and transportation hub, producing everything from uniforms, weapons and ammunition to medicines and surgical equipment for the Union, moving soldiers and supplies to the front, and returning wounded soldiers to its many hospitals, where they were cared for by thousands of volunteers. Philadelphia was also a center for African American support for emancipation and civil rights: its free black population was the largest north of the Mason Dixon Line and made it possible for the Philadelphia area to house the largest training camp for U. S. Colored Troops, as they were known at the time, at Camp William Penn. A divided city, Philadelphia had more than its share of Confederate sympathizers, and the struggles of the city's factions mirror the larger conflict.

While Philadelphia’s colonial and revolutionary history are well known, its Civil War history is equally important, equally compelling, and deserves wider attention. To build interest and awareness in the Philadelphia area’s pivotal role in the Civil War, the Civil War History Consortium and its partners will produce a program of exhibitions, public events, research activities and other programs for the period of the 150th anniversary, 2011-2015.
2011 Consortium Programs and Events (media contact: Laura Blanchard)

A kickoff parade, review, and encampment April 16, 2011 to raise the public profile of Philadelphia’s role in the Civil War. The parade will commemorate the departure of the first troops from Philadelphia in April 1861. Between 300 and 500 uniformed re-enactors and civilians, accompanied by brass bands, will march from the National Constitution Center through Chestnut Street and down Broad Street to the site of the PB&W Passenger Depot at Broad Street and Washington Avenue, with a review in front of the historic Union League of Philadelphia at Broad and Sansom Streets. The march will be followed by an encampment with demonstrations of drilling, weapons firing, camp life, and related activities. The day will end with a gala Civil War ball at the Union League.

A major battle reenactment event and living history encampment in Fairmount Park. This event is scheduled for the third weekend in August (August 20-21) and is expected to draw as many as 1,000 reenactors and living historians.

A guide to Civil War research resources in Philadelphia-area collections. This keyword-searchable research guide will aid students and other researchers in locating area sites with books, manuscripts, pamphlets, ephemera, and other documents. It will complement the collections guide currently on the Consortium's website. Additional activities will include “open archives” days at the City Archives, the National Archives, and other collecting institutions.

In planning: a series of 6 to 8 public events based at neighborhood venues, including historic churches, that were mustering, training, or hospital sites or had other important activities during the Civil War, with a focus on civic engagement.

Keystone 2011 Civil War History Consortium Partner Programs

Abraham Lincoln Foundation: The Heritage Center at the Union League of Philadelphia: The Union League of Philadelphia was formed in 1862 as a patriotic society to support Abraham Lincoln and the Union. Now one of the country's leading private city clubs, the League also houses a research library and archive with an impressive collection of books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and artwork, including a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and the original record of eyewitness testimony taken in Washington as Abraham Lincoln lay dying in the next room on April 14/15, 1865.

In late spring/early summer 2011, the Union League will share its heritage and its treasures when it opens its new Heritage Center. Changing exhibitions following the course of the war and Philadelphia’s role will be on display at center. The League can also provide guided tours of its historic building and art collections.

Admission to the Heritage Center is free; there is a modest fee for group tours. For additional information, including hours of operation and fees for tours, contact Lucienne Beard, Director of Education and Outreach, the Foundations of the Union League,, 215-587-5568

City Archives: "Piecing a Story Together". The actions of the citizens and City government are often in reaction to the laws and actions of the Federal Government. This exhibit documents the effects of the Slave Trade Act, the 1838 disenfranchisement of black males, and the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law in important local events. Also featured, an assortment of documents showcasing the effects of the Civil War and the struggle for freedom among Philadelphia citizens. (Media contact: Dona Horowitz-Behrend PhD, public historian.

Civil War Museum of Philadelphia, The Civil War Museum of Philadelphia will launch a new website in June 2011 and a series of online exhibits from its collection, beginning with George Gordon Meade—From the Barnegat Lighthouse to the Battle of Gettysburg. In collaboration with the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, and supported by the William Penn Foundation and Save America’s Treasures, the website will also offer a rare look inside the workshop as the Civil War Museum’s collection of artifacts undergoes conservation. (Media contact: Sharon A. Smith,, 215-222-1235.)

Civil War Road Show”: the Consortium, in partnership with Historic Philadelphia, will host this self-contained traveling exhibition at Franklin Square in Philadelphia June 30-July 4, 2011. Consortium member organizations will provide public programming to showcase the city's role as a critical Civil War center, both at the site and at member institutions and other venues around Philadelphia. Additional stops for the Road Show in the Greater Philadelphia area in 2011: Penn State Great Valley (Chester County), July 28-August 1, and Garnet Valley Middle School (Delaware County), August 11-15. Consortium partners will host all three Road Show stops, provide volunteer docents, and participate in complementary programming. For additional information, see (Media Contact: Sharon Murphy, Karma Communications,, 215-790-7687)

Free Library of Philadelphia. "Civil War 150" – an exhibition of period maps, photographs, prints and other documents from our historical collections and our Print and Picture Collection will highlight the war years and the homefront in Philadelphia.  The exhibition will run from March 2011 through July 4 at the Parkway Central Library. Additional projects include an online resource guide and a series of presentations by leading Civil War authors (e.g., Howard Holzer and James McPherson, June 2011). Media contact, Jim DeWalt, )

Library Company of Philadelphia: A 2011 exhibition will bring Civil War Philadelphia to life through magazines, posters, souvenirs, trade cards and other materials printed during the war. The precise dates of this exhibition have not yet been scheduled, but it is likely to be up during the summer. (Media: For additional information on this exhibition, contact Phil Lapsansky at The Library Company of Philadelphia, 215-546-3181. For information on The Library Company, visit )

Mercer Museum, Doylestown. Annual Civil War Encampment, May 29-30, 2011. After the firing on Fort Sumter in 1861, Union politicians promised a quick war to defend the Constitution and end the rebellion. At this year's encampment, costumed interpreters introduce visitors to the early days of the Civil War. Visit with military engineers and map makers, join the ranks of new recruits answering the President's call for troops to defend the Union, learn about Civil War era medicine, and interact with local civilians as they express their concern or optimism for the days ahead. Various demonstrations and activities scheduled throughout each day. Rain or Shine. Program helps mark the beginning of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial - five years of programming and exhibits commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War. Presented in collaboration with the Historical Interpretation and Education Unit of the W.S. Hancock Society. Included with museum admission. Media Contact Cory Amsler, 215-345-0210 x127

National Archives at Philadelphia. "Blasting through the Silence: The Allegheny Arsenal Explosion of 1862 and the Creation of Public Memory". The explosion at the Allegheny Arsenal caused the greatest loss of civilian life during the Civil War, but was completely overshadowed, locally and nationally, by the Battle of Antietam - both occurred on 17 September 1862.  This exhibit invites viewers to examine and evaluate the evidence of this hidden story, and understand how "history" is created.  15 November 2010 - April 2011 . "Saluting Camp William Penn." The National Archives at Philadelphia is hosting this Humanities on the Road program this spring.  Journalist Donald Scott focuses on the moving stories of Pennsylvania's black warriors who served valiantly during the Civil War. Based northwest of Philadelphia, Camp William Penn had almost 11,000 black soldiers and several hundred white officers who fought in major battles of the war, tracked Abraham Lincoln's assassins and cornered Confederate Robert E. Lee. They were supported by a "dream team" of anti-slavery abolitionists including Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, William Still and Lucretia Mott. The original Camp William Penn records at the National Archives at Philadelphia are part of our extensive holdings essential for USCT research. Check the National Archives website and/or the PHC website for dates . Media contact: Leslie Simon, Deputy Director of Archives, the National Archives at Philadelphia,, 215-606-0101.

Neshaminy Park Civil War Re-enactment: April 30-May 1, 2011. This free event draws more than 1,000 re-enactors and living historians every year, along with hundreds of spectators. It is the largest Civil War reenactment event on the east coast, with the single exception of Gettysburg. In addition to authentic battle reenactments, military drills, re-creations of camp life and demonstrations of mid-nineteenth century crafts and skills extend the educational experience. This family-friendly event is sponsored by the Bensalem PA Historical Society, together with a number of reenactment societies, museums, and corporate sponsors. Additional information, when available, will be posted at .For information on the park, visit . Media contact: Anthony Waskie,

Rosenbach Museum & Library: Online project, “Today in the Civil War,” with examples drawn from the collections; Exhibition, "The Civil War Begins"  (December 15, 2010-July 17, 2011); premier of a new composition by Dave Burrell, "Portraits of Civil War Heroes," inspired by Civil War materials in the Rosenbach collections, January 19 and 22, 2011. Hands-on tour, "The Civil War: Politicians, Soldiers, Citizens." From the writings of Abraham Lincoln, to the wartime letters of Col. Alexander Biddle of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, to a Confederate children's textbook, this tour provides a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of those who shaped and survived America's worst conflict.  Offered selected Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays at 3:00 p.m.The Rosenbach Museum & Library is housed in two Civil War-era townhouses in Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Square neighborhood. Additional activities planned for the sesquicentennial period will be posted on the Rosenbach website, . Media contact: Emaleigh Doley at Canary Promotion
and Design, (215) 690-4065,

Additional Programs and Events, 2011-2015
African American Museum of Philadelphia. "Audacious Freedom." Permanent exhibition chronicles Philadelphia's black leaders through the Centennial (1876). Ongoing.

Association of Mid-Atlantic Civil War Roundables. There are almost 20 of these associations of individuals who meet regularly to hear presentations on Civil War topics from invited scholars, published authors, and others. A listing of Roundables may be found at

Athenaeum of Philadelphia. "Elegant Things and Vile Users: Building the Capitol During the Civil War." Exhibition on the completion of the dome of the United States Capitol designed by Philadelphia architect Thomas Ustick Walter, and Walter's recollections of the challenges and frustrations he faced completing this great national symbol as the war raged on. April - August 2012.

Chester County Historical Society: Exhibition on the conflicting views of the war displayed by two warring newspapers; spotlight on the owner of the Historical Society’s headquarters building, owned by a Philadelphia Inquirer Civil War reporter. Opening 2012.

College of Physicians/Mütter Museum: “Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Injury, Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia.” In a departure from the "tourniquet and hacksaw" interpretation of Civil War medicine, this exhibition will focus intimately on three bodies, their health, medical treatment, and mortality: a white soldier, a black soldier, and a female volunteer nurse. It will also mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the museum. Opening 2013.

Grand Army of the Republic (GAR.) Civil War Museum & Library: Monthly programs and special events.

The Heritage Center at the Union League of Philadelphia: Annual exhibitions following the course of the war and Philadelphia’s role will be on display at the Union League’s new Heritage Center.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania. A range of digitization and processing projects, publications, and public events over the four-year period.

Mercer Museum, Doylestown. "Turning Points," Exhibit will include segments on such "issues" of the period as the military draft, the enlistment of African-Americans, the changing conduct and aims of the War, and the appropriate role for women in the crisis. (2013)

National Constitution Center. Major exhibition (2013) which will travel to other venues in Pennsylvania as well as outside the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Hospital: 2012 Exhibition on mental health during the Civil War, focusing on the work of Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride at the Institute at 49th and Market.

Civil War Road Show” traveling exhibition by Pennsylvania Civil War 150 initiative, hosted by Consortium partners. Additional locations being scheduled for 2012-2014.

Philadelphia Museum of History at the Atwater Kent: Inaugural exhibition (2012) and permanent galleries on Philadelphia history will include tours and gallery talks showcasing the Civil War content; the museum is also planning a Civil War exhibition for 2013.

Temple University Center for Civil War and Emancipation Studies: One-day symposium featuring David Blight, Randall Miller, Matthew Pinsker, and Judith Giesberg. February 2011; additional symposia in 2012-2015.

University of Pennsylvania Rare Book and Manuscript Library: expansion of its existing online archive of Civil War-related materials ( ); publication of Our Beloved Country: Civil War Pamphlets Published in Philadelphia edited by Jon Shaw (ISBN: 978-0-615-39404-6), December 2010.

(Media may contact Laura Blanchard for contact information on any of the additional programs.)

About the Civil War History Consortium
As a collective, the Civil War History Consortium marshals the resources of the region

  • to facilitate communication among local, regional and state entities, Consortium members, and collaborators

  • to create structures for linking sites and develop sustainable infrastructure for 19th century history

  • to build and share local collections and coordinate quality public programming

  • to create interactive Web resources

  • to support k-12 education

Since its founding, the Consortium has identified collections, sites and programs relating to the region's Civil War history. Grants from the Heritage Philadelphia Program and the William Penn Foundation have funded a market analysis and created a database of Philadelphia Civil War era sites and collections. These surveys are available online at the Consortium's website at

The Consortium has also participated in the statewide Sesquicentennial initiative, providing content for two of its signature projects, a website ( and a traveling exhibition that will visit all 67 counties in Pennsylvania. (The exhibition is scheduled to visit Franklin Square from June 30 - July 4, 2011.) The Consortium gratefully acknowledges additional funding from the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources and Community and Economic Development, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Executive Board:

  • John Meko, Foundations of the Union League

  • Kim Sajet, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

  • V. Chapman-Smith, National Archives at Philadelphia

  • Joseph C. Certaine

  • Anthony Waskie, Temple University

  • Romona Riscoe-Benson, African American Museum of Philadelphia

  • Vince Stango, National Constitution Center

  • Laura Blanchard, Civil War History Consortium (ex officio)

Charter Members and Associated Organizations

  • Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia*

  • African American Museum in Philadelphia*

  • American Historical Theatre

  • American Swedish Historical Museum

  • Athenaeum of Philadelphia*

  • Berks County Historical Society

  • Chester County Archives & Records Services*

  • Chester County Historical Society*

  • Cheyney University – Library

  • Christ Church Preservation Trust

  • City of Philadelphia – The City Archives

  • Civil War Museum of Philadelphia*

  • College of Physicians of Philadelphia / Mütter Museum*

  • Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site

  • Elfreth’s Alley Association

  • First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry

  • Fort Delaware State Park

  • Fort Mifflin on the Delaware

  • Free Library of Philadelphia

  • General Meade Society of Philadelphia, Inc.

  • Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Civil War Museum & Library*

  • Greater Philadelphia Tourism & Marketing Corporation

  • Historic Germantown
    (including Awbury Arboretum, Cliveden/Upsala, Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion, Germantown Historical Society, Johnson House, Stenton and others)

  • Historical Society of Montgomery County*

  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania*

  • Independence Visitor Center Corporation

  • John Bartram Association / Bartram’s Garden

  • Jubilee Project

  • Landmarks Architectural Walking Tours

  • Laurel Hill Cemetery

  • Lest We Forget Museum of African-American Slavery

  • Library Company of Philadelphia*

  • Masonic Library & Museum of Pennsylvania

  • Mercer Museum

  • Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Pennsylvania Commandery*

  • Mother Bethel AME Church and Richard Allen Museum

  • National Archives at Philadelphia

  • National Civil War Museum*

  • National Constitution Center

  • National Historic Theater

  • New Freedom Theatre

  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts*

  • Pennsylvania Hospital

  • Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent*

  • Pennsylvania Tourism Office

  • Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL)

  • Philadelphia Hospitality*

  • Rosenbach Museum & Library

  • Temple University – Civil War & Emancipation Studies

  • Underground Railroad Museum at

  • Belmont Mansion

  • United States Colored Troops (USCT) Third Infantry Regiment

  • University of Pennsylvania Library

  • Villanova University – Department of History

  • Wagner Free Institute of Science

  • Walnut Street Theatre

*Charter Member

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