Civil War Reading and Discussion Series at Holman Library Starts Sept. 27


Lebanon, Illinois – A five-part reading and discussion series called “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War,” will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at McKendree University’s Holman Library. Dr. Patrick Folk, Samuel Hedding Deneen and Charles Samuel Deneen Memorial Professor of Early American History at McKendree University, will lead the discussions.

The public is invited to take part in the sessions on the last Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. No reading is required for the first one on Sept. 27. For future discussions on Oct. 25, Nov. 29, Feb. 28, Mar. 27 and Apr. 24, each participant will receive free copies of the following works:

  • “March” by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin, 2006)

  • “Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam” by James McPherson (Oxford University Press, 2002)

  • “America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries,” a forthcoming anthology of historical fiction, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biography and short stories, edited by national project scholar Edward L. Ayers and co-published by the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Holman Library received a $3,000 grant from the ALA and the NEH to host the Civil War series. The library is one of 65 nationwide receiving the grants, which encourage participants to consider the legacy of the Civil War and emancipation. Local support for the series is provided by the Lebanon Historical Society and Belleville West High School.

“McKendree was awarded the grant due to the rich local history of the impact of the Civil War on this historic community,” said Rebecca Schreiner, director of Holman Library. “We are delighted to have been chosen to host this unique series that provides an opportunity for students and members of the community to meet together to discuss the legacy of the Civil War led by an engaging, well-qualified scholar.”

Lebanon’s Civil War reenactment and the annual memorial ceremony that honors Civil War soldiers of the 117th Illinois Regiment at College Hill Cemetery will enable participants to put the readings into a real-life context. The public is also encouraged to visit the McKendree University Museum and Archives to view and discuss artifacts, photographs and books dating back to the Civil War. In addition, participants can join a “haunted Lebanon tour” that highlights the community’s connections to the war and learn about how Alton and other surrounding communities were affected by it. Other events and social gatherings will be scheduled.

“The Civil War takes us back to a time in American history when civility ruptured and the nation split in two,” said Jim Leach, chairman of NEH. “The sesquicentennial of the Civil War and emancipation is an occasion for America to reflect together about the causes and ramifications of our greatest internal conflict, and a most appropriate way for ‘us the living’ to renew the American spirit in these still-troubled times.”

For more information or to register, visit