Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College

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Civil War Institute
Established 1982 (1982)
Academic affiliation Gettysburg College
Director Peter S. Carmichael

The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College is a non-profit organization created to promote the study of the American Civil War Era. The Institute was founded in 1982 by historian and Gettysburg College professor Gabor Boritt, an Abraham Lincoln and American Civil War scholar. The current director is Peter S. Carmichael. The Institute helps coordinate a number of Civil War-related events, including the Lincoln Prize, the Michael Shaara Prize, the Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture, annual programming designed to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, as well as a week-long summer conference that hosts 300 participants annually. In 2007, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell named the Civil War Institute the administrative head of the Pennsylvania Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which was created to honor the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. The Civil War Institute and Pennsylvania Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission have offices on North Washington Street and in the Gettysburg Railroad Station in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.[1]

Summer conference[edit]

The Institute hosts an annual summer conference on the Civil War, drawing over 300 people annually. Each year, the conference focuses on a different Civil War theme. Past themes have included the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Fredericksburg, Robert E. Lee, the navy and the cavalry. The theme for 2008 is Abraham Lincoln, and falls during the 199th anniversary of his birth. While most participants live in Gettysburg College dorms during the week, local attendees can choose to forgo living expenses and commute each day. The conference, generally running from Sunday to Saturday, is usually held during the last week of June. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are lecture days, where participants attend morning, afternoon and night sessions with Civil War historians. Tuesday is reserved for a day-long tour to an area related to the conference's central theme. In past years, the conference has traveled to the Antietam National Battlefield, Fredericksburg, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Petersburg, Virginia. Thursday generally consists of half-day tours of the Gettysburg National Battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Lecturers and tour guides are chosen for recent scholarship and expertise on the conference's central theme. The Institute has hosted a number of Lincoln Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, including James M. McPherson, Ken Burns, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Allen C. Guelzo, Richard Carwardine, and others. Ed Bearss, Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, has been providing tours at the conference for several years.

The Michael Shaara Prize[edit]

The Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction is awarded annually to the best historical novel related to the American Civil War. The prize was founded by Jeff Shaara, a best-selling historical novelist, in honor of his father, Michael Shaara. Michael Shaara was the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the The Killer Angels, a novel about the Battle of Gettysburg.[2]

The Prize is administered by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture[edit]

The Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture is an annual lecture on an American Civil War-related topic, aimed at appealing to the general public while still providing strong scholarly undertones. The lecture is held on November 19 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College coordinates the lecture.[3]

Dedication Day Ceremonies[edit]

The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College helps coordinate the annual Dedication Day Ceremonies which take place on and around November 19. The day's events are held in the Gettysburg National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Although Lincoln actually gave the Gettysburg Address in the adjacent Evergreen Cemetery, the National Cemetery provides the most room for spectators.[4]

Past speakers at the Dedication Day Ceremonies have included Tom Brokaw, Jeff Shaara, Lynne Cheney, Sandra Day O'Connor, William Rehnquist, and others. The 2008 speaker was film director Ken Burns, and the 2009 speaker was Academy Award winning actor Richard Dreyfuss.

See also[edit]