April 07, 2011

Library to host major Civil War symposium

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For the first time in its more than 100-year history, the Illinois State Historical Society is bringing its Illinois History Symposium to Carbondale, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale is playing a major role in the event.

The 2011 Illinois History Symposium is April 14-16 at SIUC’s Morris Library. The event, which commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s inception, will draw scholars from all over the country exploring the conflict and its impact, particularly in the early war years. Anyone with an interest in the Civil War and Southern Illinois will find the symposium of great interest, according to William Furry, executive director of the Illinois State Historical Society.

Several of the 40 or so sessions feature SIUC presenters and, as a bonus, all SIUC students, faculty, staff and alumni are welcome to attend all three days at no cost. When you come to the symposium, simply tell your SIUC affiliation when registering.

Actually, anyone can attend the April 14 sessions free. The general public can participate April 15 for a walk-in registration fee of $50 while the April 16 walk-in registration for those not affiliated with SIUC is $25. Community members can pay $70 to attend April 15 and 16. Meals are not included for anyone who didn’t register for the symposium prior to March 31.

“Sacred Oaths, Shallow Graves: Illinois in the Civil War, Part 1” is the theme of the symposium. Participants can view award-winning documentaries, hear readings and enlightening presentations and listen to panel discussions on an eclectic mix of topics relating to the Civil War. Numerous faculty, staff and students of the University are lending their expertise and voices to the symposium. Topics including Black Jack Logan, transitioning from slave to landowner and from civilian to soldier, free black settlements in pre-Civil War Southern Illinois, prairie justice, the Mound City National Cemetery, slavery in Southern Illinois, statehouse secrets, the Shawnee National Forest petroglyphs, steamboat building in Metropolis and much more.

On April 15, participants can hear from Robert Bray (“Lincoln’s Library: An Overview of a Life Well-Read”), Donald A. Clark (“The Notorious Bull Nelson: Murdered Civil War General”) and James B. Swan (“Wearing the Green in Union Blue: Chicago’s Irish Legion”), three authors whose works the Southern Illinois University Press published. After the afternoon session, these authors will sign books and that evening, they and other local SIU Press authors will meet with those attending during an hors d’oeuvres and local wine reception 4-7 p.m. in the Hall of Presidents and Chancellors.

Symposium registration is 9 am. to 3 p.m. on April 14 with the first session starting at 10 a.m. The registration for April 15 is from 8 a.m. to 3 pm. with the initial session at 9 a.m. The final day, April 16, features registration from 8-9:30 a.m. with the first session beginning at 9:45 a.m. following a breakfast reserved for those pre-registering.

The festivities culminate with the dedication of the Daniel Harmon Brush historical marker in downtown Carbondale at noon on April 16. Mayor Brad Cole will unveil the marker honoring Carbondale co-founder Daniel Harmon Brush, a Civil War union loyalist who lived in a time and area of divided loyalties.

Find the complete schedule of speakers and events for the symposium online at

http://www.historyillinois.org/. For more information, call Furry at 217/525-2781 or Herb Russell at 618/457-7554.

Sponsors of the 2011 History Symposium include Morris Library, the Union County Historical and Genealogical Society, the Illinois State Historical Society, U.S. Bank, Lincoln Financial Advisors, American Resources LTD., and numerous individual donors.