The year 2011 marked the beginning of the four-year national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. West Virginia, the only state born of the Civil War, celebrated its 150th birthday in 2013 during the commemoration period. With these important observances in mind the Humanities Council created the Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau.
The bureau features respected scholars with expertise in Civil War and statehood topics. The speakers are available at no charge for a limited number of presentations each. Organizations wanting to book a speaker are expected to publicize the program as free and open to the public, provide an audience of at least 40 people, and pay any necessary lodging costs for the speaker. The Humanities Council pays the speaker, assists with publicity, and provides information to each host group to help promote their talk.
To book a speaker, contact program officer Mark Payne at 304-346-8500 or email.
Speakers and their topics now available through October 31, 2015 are:
Mothers of Martyrs: Women and Civil War Commemoration
West Virginia Wesleyan College history professor Katharine Antolini reminds us that the story of the Civil War is more than the tales of men made heroes or martyrs on the battlefield. It is also the story of women left behind to honor, mourn, and persevere. Mothers of Martyrs explores the role that women played in healing the physical and psychological wounds left by the Civil War through their symbolic acts of commemoration. The talk highlights the origins of Memorial Day and Mother's Day through the work of women who strived to rebuild their communities in the wake of war.
Rosser’s Raid on Beverly: One Last Frolic for the Confederacy
As ice and snow gripped the Alleghenies in January 1865, Confederate General Tom Rosser launched a raid on the Union garrison at Beverly, West Virginia. Rosser sought food and ordnance for the destitute Rebels of the Valley District. Surprising the Yankees at dawn after a late-night dance, Rosser’s raiders plundered the town, carrying off loads of booty and twice their number in prisoners. Author, archaeologist and interpreter Hunter Lesser relates this story of one of the last military actions of the Civil War in West Virginia.
The Floating Capitol
Billy Joe Peyton
The West Virginia state capitol was first located at Wheeling before moving to Charleston, back to Wheeling, then back to Charleston. As riverboats were the primary mode of transporting state officials, documents, and archival materials during the moves the idea of the “floating capitol” was born. West Virginia State University history professor Billy Joe Peyton examines the many moves and the reasons behind them.
West Virginians and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
In the new and internally divided state of West Virginia, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April of 1865 immediately challenged the process of reconciliation needed to rebuild communities that had been disrupted by the political and military conflict of the Civil War. More than most other Americans, West Virginians had to confront former foes on a daily basis. Coming at the very start of the period of Reconstruction, the Lincoln assassination made this challenge even greater. Marshall University history professor Michael Woods looks at the impact of the assassination and little-known roles played by West Virginians in the event.
- These speakers are available as part of the Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau, a program of the West Virginia Humanities Council.
- Speakers are paid directly by the Humanities Council.
- Any necessary lodging costs are paid by the host organization.
- All lectures must be publicized and free to the public with an audience of at least 40 people.
- Speakers can book up quickly, so requests should be received well in advance.
To book a speaker for your organization, contact Program Officer Mark Payne at 304-346-8500 or email.