News Release

Sims Library to sponsor Civil War reading and discussion series; area libraries to offer free presentations

Contact: Rene Abadie


     HAMMOND – Sims Memorial Library at Southeastern Louisiana University has been awarded a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities to sponsor a five-part reading and discussion series on the Civil War. 
     Entitled “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War,” the discussion series, as well as topical books, will be offered at no charge on five Tuesday evenings in the Southeastern library starting Jan. 31 and concluding March 27, said Beth Stahr, head of reference and instruction. She and fellow librarians Dayne Sherman and Ladonna Guillot wrote the application for the $3,000 competitive grant.
     In addition to the in-depth sessions on campus, the grant -- one of only 65 awarded from more than 175 submitted -- will allow the university to partner with the Southeastern Department of History and Political Science and the Tangipahoa Parish Library System to offer six free Civil War presentations next year at area libraries.
     “This is a natural follow-up to the national exhibit which the library hosted earlier this year on the Constitutional crises that President Abraham Lincoln faced during the Civil War,” said library Director Eric Johnson. “We’re pleased to be able to offer this exceptional discussion series to our area residents.”
     Stahr said the in-depth discussion series to be held in the Southeastern Library will be led by Harry S. Laver, Southeastern associate professor of history, who teaches courses in U.S. history, American military history and the Civil War. He is the author of the book      “Citizens More than Soldiers: the Kentucky Militia and Society in the Early Republic” and co-edited “The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell.”
     Stahr explained that individuals participating in the discussion series on campus will be provided three books and will be expected to read various sections in preparation for the weekly discussions. Registration will be on a first come, first served basis, with the registration form available on the web site Books to be provided include “March” by Geraldine Brooks, “Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam” by James McPherson, and “America’s War: Talking about the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries,” a forthcoming anthology of fiction, speeches, diaries, memoirs and other materials edited by Civil War authority and president of the University of Richmond, Edward L. Ayers.
     However, the six presentations at various Tangipahoa Parish Library locations do not involve specific readings, advance preparation or registration, Stahr emphasized.
     “The late historian Shelby Foote believed the Civil War was the defining moment for our nation,” said Barry Bradford, director of the Tangipahoa Parish Library. “This series will shed light on the watershed in American history that made the United States what it is today. I am proud that Tangipahoa Parish Library and Southeastern Louisiana University can partner to bring such significant and interesting programming to our citizens.”
     The schedule for the Tangipahoa Parish Library presentations includes:
-- Jan. 24, 10 a.m., Ponchatoula Branch, “Biting the Bullet: The Still Painful Legacy of Civil War Medicine,” by Ladonna Guillot;
-- Feb. 4, 11 a.m., Amite Branch, “Researching Your Civil War Ancestors,” by Beth Stahr;
-- Feb. 7, 6 p.m., Hammond Branch, “Lincoln in Louisiana: (Re)Considering Causation and the Creole State,” by Southeastern History Instructor Charles Elliott;
-- Feb. 15, 6 p.m., Hammond Branch, “The Night the War Was (Re)Lost: (Re)Considering a Campaign that Almost Was,” also by Elliott;
-- March 3, 11 a.m., Amite Branch, “Writing in General and Civil War Fiction in Particular,” by Dayne Sherman;
-- March 6, 11 a.m., Ponchatoula Branch, “The British are NOT Coming: Prince Albert, Palmerston, and Civil War Diplomacy,” by William Robison, head of the Southeastern Department of History and Political Science.
     Complete information on both series is available on the web site or by calling Stahr at the Sims Memorial Library at 985-549-5056.

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