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Schedule for 2014

Mothers of Martyrs: Women and Civil War Commemoration
Katharine Antolini
West Virginia Wesleyan College

June 20, 7:00 p.m.
Old Huntersville School House, Huntersville

October 21, 12:30 p.m.
West Virginia State University, Institute

The Common Soldier in the Civil War
Jason Phillips
West Virginia University

Methodists and West Virginia Statehood
Matthew Foulds
Shepherd University

June 21, 1:00 p.m.
McGrew House, Kingwood

July 15, 7:00 p.m.
Spruce Street United Methodist Church, Morgantown

Revisiting the Emancipation Proclamation:
West Virginia and Beyond

Michael Woods
Marshall University

May 13, 10:30 a.m.
Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, Huntington


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Speakers Bureau

The year 2011 marked the beginning of the four-year national commemoration of the150th anniversary of the Civil War.  West Virginia, the only state born of the Civil War, also celebrated her 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 related topics. Each has agreed to present their listed topic for three different groups. The Humanities Council pays the speakers an honorarium directly. Organizations wanting to book a speaker are required to provide an audience of at least 40 people for the program and pay for any necessary lodging costs for the speaker.

Contact program officer Mark Payne at 304-346-8500 or email to schedule one of the following presentations through October 31, 2014.

Through October 31, 2014, the available topics and speakers are:

Mothers of Martyrs: Women and Civil War Commemoration
Katharine Antolini, West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan College 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 American Civil War through their symbolic acts of commemoration. The talk highlights the origins of Memorial Day and Mother's Day through the work of southern women who strived to rebuild their communities in the wake of war. 

The Common Soldier in the Civil War
Jason Phillips, West Virginia University

Photograph of Jason Phillips, Sesquicentennial Speaker.The experiences of Civil War soldiers can be characterized in a variety of ways according to West Virginia University history professor Jason Phillips. Common soldiers on both sides of the conflict can be viewed as heroes, victims, race warriors, and citizen soldiers to name just a few popular identities. Each of these characterizations captures some aspect of the common soldier’s war experiences, but misses other facets of their service. Phillips considers how these different views of soldiers might be reconciled to produce a more complete portrait of Billy Yank and Johnny Reb.

Methodists and West Virginia Statehood
Matthew Foulds, Shepherd University

Photograph of Matthew Foulds, Sesquicentennial Speaker.Shepherd University history professor Matthew Foulds maintains that Western Virginians felt relegated to the fringe of the state political structure that was dominated by eastern Virginia’s slaveholding oligarchy. Feeling powerless to seek reforms through a political system that had failed them, westerners turned to the traveling ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church to voice their discontent. These itinerant ministers actively defended western interests, provided political leadership when war broke out, helped hold Western Virginia in the Union, and championed the statehood movement. 

Revisiting the Emancipation Proclamation: West Virginia and Beyond

Michael Woods, Marshall University

Photograph of Michael Woods, Sesquicentennial SpeakerIn the fall and winter of 1862-63, President Abraham Lincoln transformed the Civil War into a revolution by issuing the preliminary and final versions of his Emancipation Proclamation explains professor Michael Woods of Marshall University. Woods discusses the origins, development, and effects of the two-part proclamation, paying special attention to the place of West Virginia – then in the process of statehood – in the broader story. Shrouded in myths and half-truths, the Emancipation Proclamation’s true significance and limitations become clearer by considering the relationship of the Mountain State to the politics of slavery and war.


  • These speakers are available as part of the Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau, a program of the West Virginia Humanities Council.
  • Speaker fees 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

Contact Program Officer.