Civil War 150: Exploring the War & Its Meaning

City of Great Falls Montana

Civil War 150

The Great Falls Public Library is hosting Civil War 150: Exploring the War & Its Meaning through the Words of Those Who Lived It, a national traveling exhibition, on display May 26 – June 16. Utilizing letters, personal accounts, and images drawn from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, this exhibition traces major events during the Civil War through the eyes of soldiers, presidents, freedmen, and families. Great Falls Public Library is one of 50 sites nationwide selected to host this exhibit.

In conjunction with this traveling exhibit, the library will host a series of programs, reenactments, and music from May 8 – June 19. All of these programs are free and open to the public. The exhibit and programs are sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the GFPL Foundation. The schedule is as follows:

Thursday, May 8, 7:00 pm - Black Heritage and the Civil War

This is a celebration of the Civil War by African Americans through songs and stories.

Thursday, May 15, 7 pm - The Civil War Years of Montana: Descendents of Civil War Veterans Share Stories, Diaries, and Photos

Thursday, May 22, 7 pm - Literature of the Civil War with UGF Professor Aaron Parrett & his banjo

Thursday, May 29, 6 – 6:45 - Reception for Traveling Exhibition

Mayor Michael Winters gives a brief welcome

7 pm - Issues of the Civil War & Their Relevance to the Present - A panel discussion with Vern Pedersen, Benjamin Donnely, & Oliver Pflugg (all from UGF)

Saturday, May 31, 10 am – 4 pm - Return of the Galvanzied Yankee: An Encampment

The 1st U.S.V.I. is Montana’s first regiment devoted to the Civil War. Members hail from around the state. This group will be setting up an encampment in the Library Park (in case of inclement weather, in the Cordingley Room) where visitors can get a real feel for how soldiers lived.

Thursday, June 5, 7pm - Lincoln and Liberty: Songs as Sound Clips from the Civil War

Former instructor of literature and folklore at Flathead Valley Community College, Bill Rossiter, presents songs of the American Civil War and the lore surrounding them. These songs provided a soundtrack for one of the most important periods in our history. Their messages, both the official songs and the sometimes-wicked parodies written by the troops, give a glimpse of the period that could be easily missed if only the battles and politics were examined.

Saturday, June 7, 10 am – 4 pm Bonnets and Battlefields: An Interactive Experience with Jim Vaughn and Tiea Toby

10:30 – 11 a.m. Clara Barton: Bonnets on the Battlefield

1:30 – 2 p.m. (formal presentation with Tiea Toby)

10:15 – 11:45 a.m. Perspectives of a Civil War Officer

2:15 – 2:45 p.m. (formal presentation with Jim Vaugh)

Tiea Toby & Jim Vaugn from Laurel, MT, are re-enactors with the Washington State Civil War Association. They have presented various interactive Civil War experiences for the public for many years. They will set up a tent and fly in the Library Park (in the Cordingley Room in case of inclement weather) and provide a living and interactive experience.

Thursday, June 12, 7 pm - When Johnny Comes Marching Home: Documenting Montanans Civil War Experience with Rich Aarstad from the Montana State Historical Society

Thursday, June 19, 7 pm - Yankees and Rebels Who Fought in the Civil War and Came to New Montana Territory: In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Creation of the Montana Territory and the Civil War

Ken Robison and Bob Harris will appear in uniform and present reenactments of Civil War Union officers who later settled in Great Falls. Dick Thoroughman will speak about Confederates who came to Montana after fighting in the war.