Civil War 150 is a lively series this February and March of films, author events, dramatic interpretations, and more that will mark the 150th anniversary of the end of America’s Civil War. The series was made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Library of America. It is a collaboration between the library and the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest.
Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History
SUNDAY, FEB. 1, 2 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Learn how the Civil War affected Chicago when Loyola University professors and co-editors Ted Karamanski and Eileen McMahon share stories from their new book, Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History. Not only did Chicagoans play an important role in the politics of the conflict, encouraging emancipation and promoting a “hard war” policy against Southern civilians, but they supported the troops materially through production of military supplies and foodstuffs. The Civil War transformed Chicago from a mere commercial center to an industrial power as well as the nation’s railroad hub and busiest port.
Historical Interpretation: Major General George Henry Thomas
SUNDAY, FEB. 8, 4 PM, PLEASANT HOME, 217 HOME AVE., OAK PARK
Meet Major General George Henry Thomas and his wife to learn how a man born on a slaveholding plantation in Virginia became a graduate of West Point and later fought for the U.S. Army in the Mexican-American War. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Thomas did not resign his commission in the U.S. Army. His decision to remain loyal to the Union created a deep rift with his family, one that would not heal in his lifetime. Major General Thomas will be portrayed by Jerry Kowalski, former president of the Chicago Civil War Round Table, and his wife, JoEllen Kawalski. Audience members are invited to dress in their Civil War best.
Film Screening: “Glory”
TUESDAY, FEB. 10, 1:30 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Join film historian Doug Deuchler to see and discuss “Glory,” a 1989 film starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. The film tells the true story of black soldiers who fought prejudice and neglect to prove themselves in battle.
Film Screening: “Friendly Persuasion”
TUESDAY, FEB. 17, 1:30 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Join film historian Doug Deuchler to see and discuss “Friendly Persuasion,” a 1956 film about a peaceful, neutral Quaker family who are tested when the Confederate army invades their area. Gary Cooper and Anthony Perkins star in this film.
Civil War Tales: True Stories from Oak Park
THURSDAY, MARCH 12, 7 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Through a multimedia experience featuring footage from the Historical Society’s Tale of the Tombstones Cemetery Walk, which focused on the Civil War with live re-enactors portraying Oak Park citizens, hear first-person tales from Oak Park citizens. These include Ernest Hemingway’s two grandfathers, who fought in the Civil War; Major Wilbur Crummer, who was left for dead at Vicksburg; and a young man who lied about his age to help the Union.
Film Screening: “Shenandoah”
TUESDAY, MARCH 10, 1:30 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Join film historian Doug Deuchler to see and discuss “Shenandoah,” a 1965 film in which James Stewart plays a widowed farmer and family patriarch with six sons who is strongly opposed to slavery yet struggling to remain neutral during the Civil War.
Film Screening: ”The General”
TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 1:30 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Join film historian Doug Deuchler to see and discuss “The General,” a 1926 silent comedy classic that stars Buster Keaton as a train engineer and combines inventive humor with exciting action. When Union spies steal the engineer’s beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly, straight through enemy lines.
Historical Interpretation: Civil War Nurse Clara Barton
SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2 PM, MAIN LIBRARY
Clara Barton earned fame as the first woman to serve as a nurse on the front lines of a battlefield. This first-person program presented by Leslie Goddard introduces Barton as a tireless worker who faced remarkable challenges in her quest to care for wounded soldiers. Learn about the courage required for a woman who dared to brave the front lines.