In August 2013, Bowdoin College hosted “The Afterlife of the American Civil War,” a four-day series of lectures, demonstrations, exhibitions, and music presented in commemoration of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial celebration. Bowdoin has many important connections to the Civil War through eminent alumni, faculty, and other historical figures associated with the College—including Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (class of 1852), Oliver Otis Howard (class of 1850), William Pitt Fessenden (class of 1823), and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who began writing “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” while her husband was a Bowdoin professor. The Alumni College event, which focused on Bowdoin’s involvement in the post-war years, included lectures by Bowdoin faculty and alumni.
In this presentation, David K. Thomson ’08, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia and Richard Lindemann, director of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, discuss the Civil War experiences of brothers O.O, Charles, and Rowland Howard. Drawing on documents from the Howard collections, Thomson and Lindemann share the stories and larger legacy of this accomplished Bowdoin family.
Artists reacted to the Civil War in myriad ways. In the North some like Winslow Homer ventured to the front lines, creating paintings and sketches that recorded life in the Union army. Photographers followed as well, and their cameras brought to national attention scenes previously unimagined. In these visual presentations, Frank Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, focuses on the photographs of Abraham Lincoln taken before and throughout the war, while Associate Professor of Art History Emerita Linda Docherty uses Bowdoin’s extensive collection of Homer prints to show the impact of one of America’s most beloved artists.
The keynote address was delivered by Nina Silber, professor of history at Boston University. Her books include “The Romance of Reunion: Northerners and the South, 1865-1900” (1993); “Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War” (1992); “Daughters of the Union: Northern Women Fight the Civil War” (2005); and “Gender and the Sectional Conflict” (2009). She has also worked as a consultant for the Gettysburg National Battlefield, the United States Constitution Museum, and the “American Experience” television series.
In this lecture, Bowdoin Associate Professor of History Patrick Rael, a specialist in African-American History who regularly teaches courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, including the popular course “The Civil War in Film,” discusses Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and other Bowdoin alumni who fought in the Civil War.
In this lecture and classroom discussion, Bowdoin Professor of English Peter Coviello covers the response of acclaimed northern writers to the Civil War.