Virginia Civil War 150
Planning the Commemoration:
What's New
"An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia" Event
February 9, 2011

Members of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, state officials, VHS trustees, and special guests enjoy a special tour of "An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia." The exhibition, which features over 200 artifacts and 17 multimedia interactives, is a pathbreaking exploration of the Civil War in terms of what was gained, what was lost, what was undecided, and what was left for us to resolve. The exhibition will be on display at the VHS through December 2011 and then will travel to seven museums in Virginia. All images are provided courtesy of the Virginia Historical Society.



Virginia Preserves Civil War History Through Ground-Breaking Digitization Project - Attics and storage trunks may yield historical treasure

(Richmond, Va.) February 9, 2011 - 2011 marks the start of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War and Emancipation. The Commonwealth of Virginia, with more Civil War sites than any other state, is marking the commemoration with a ground-breaking Civil War history document preservation project to capture diverse and compelling letters, papers and artifacts from the Civil War era.

The Civil War 150 Legacy Project is a collaboration between the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Commission. The Legacy Project provides a secure method of sharing history without releasing possession of valued documents and images. The state invites families to visit Virginia during the 150th Commemoration, bring family treasures to be scanned and recorded and officially become part of history.

The goal of the project is to encourage people to search through personal collections in attics, basements, desk drawers and other places to find documents containing vital information and insight into ancestors who experienced the Civil War in Virginia.

The project sends teams of professional archivists from the Library of Virginia to cities and towns throughout the state to digitally scan documents and images free of charge, so that their content can be preserved long beyond the life of the original. Scanning will be conducted at local libraries, visitor centers, administrative offices or other public buildings. Dates, locations and information regarding appointments for Legacy Project scanning events can be found at

Those owning manuscripts, documents or images originating from 1859-1867 and reflecting social, political, military, business or religious life in Virginia during the Civil War and early Reconstruction are encouraged to bring those items for scanning.

Appointments are recommended, though a limited number of walk-ins will be accommodated. Scanned materials can be viewed on the web sites of the Library of Virginia ( and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Commission (

While traveling to and from a scanning event, take time to visit some of Virginia’s famous battlefields, museums, trails and historic sites that tell a diverse story of the Civil War. Virginia has nearly 800 Civil War sites statewide that are complimented by great local restaurants and hotels, scenic drives, wineries, beaches and outdoor recreation. To plan a trip to Virginia's Civil War Sites and renowned Civil War Trails program, visit or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free Virginia travel guide.



Civil War 150 HistoryMobile

Volvo Trucks North America announces partnership with Civil War 150 HistoryMobile
December 14, 2010



CTB Awards $3.5 Million in Transportation Enhancement Grants to Promote Civil War and Wine Tourism in Virginia
June 17, 2010

RICHMOND – Yesterday, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded $3.5 million in transportation enhancement grants to support Virginia’s commemoration of the Sesquicentennial (150 th Anniversary) of the American Civil War.

The grants will fund an innovative partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), the Virginia Wine Board, the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, Virginia Civil War Trails, and the Civil War Preservation Trust. The unique venture capitalizes on the 150 th anniversary of the Civil War to promote tourism and wineries throughout the Commonwealth.

The primary component of the project is the creation of a new multi-media information terminal for the Commonwealth’s 11 welcome centers. These terminals will pull data from the various organizations’ websites – such as directions to, and information on different battlefields and wineries – and will compile the information into one user-friendly device to enhance travelers’ experiences in Virginia . Information displayed on the terminals will be based on VDOT’s Scenic Roads Map with icons for battlefields, wineries, and other tourism destinations, and will allow users to search for specific destinations. Each icon will provide information about the destination, as well as information on other attractions and services in the area. Read More



Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Foundation Receives Diversity Grant from Dominion Resources
January 21, 2010

The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Foundation was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from Dominion Resources in support of the Commission's 2010 Signature Conference, Race, Slavery and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory to be held September 24, 2010, at Norfolk State University. Dr. James O. Horton, Benjamin Benneker Professor Emeritus of American History at George Washington University, will serve as conference chair of a groundbreaking program that brings together renowned scholars, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson, to discuss the issues that are at the core of a more complete understanding of the Civil War. The 2010 Signature Conference is one of a select group of diversity initiatives recognized by Dominion Resources.



Sesquicentennial License Plates NOW AVAILABLE

The General Assembly enacted HB 631 and SB 73, which authorize the issuance of special license plates marking the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. These plates will be subject to a one-time surcharge of $15, of which $5 will be paid to the Virginia Sesquicentenniall -of -the -American Civil

War Commission Fund to support programs and activities to place Virginia at the forefront of this historic national commemoration.

The plates are now available. For more information or to purchase, please visit DMV.


National Endowment for the Humanities
Richmond Times-Dispatch
August 30, 2009

Virginia's commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War will have $950,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to use for exhibits and educational programs.

"An American Turning Point" is the theme for a major museum exhibition, a traveling exhibition, a panel exhibition, a permanent online Web exhibition, and related educational and public programs. The project was also recognized by NEH's "We the People" program for encouraging and strengthening the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture.

The exhibition will open at the Virginia Historical Society in February 2011.
Union, Confederate and African-American perspectives will be included in a balanced portrayal of the war, according to the minutes of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. Programs and exhibitions will examine the social and cultural legacies of the conflict, as well as the battlefield and the home front from 1861 to 1865.

Plans for the traveling exhibit include a 3,000 square-foot exhibition for museums, a panel exhibition for smaller venues, and, tentatively, a tractor-trailer exhibition.

Localities Partner with State Sesquicentennial Commission

One of the Commission's primary goals is to coordinate, link, and unify events and activities that will be happening throughout the state as part of the sesquicentennial commemoration. This is no small task, as Virginia has more Civil War sites than any other state. Every city and county in Virginia has a unique history of the crucial role in played during the nation's most traumatic moments - - there is not an area of the state that was untouched by the war. Each locality has been asked to form a Local Sesquicentennial Committee to work with the Commission, plan events and activities that are meaningful to the community, and promote its Civil War history during the commemoration.

See the latest list of Local Sesquicentennial Committees.

Library Works to Preserve Record of Civil War
Reprinted with permission of the Library of Virginia

December 5, 2008

A team from the Library of Virginia visited the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville on November 22 to evaluate and scan family records containing original manuscripts from the Civil War.

The preservation effort is a project of the Library in collaboration with the Virginia Commission on the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War, which was established by the General Assembly in 2006 to plan and commemorate the anniversary of Virginia's participation in the Civil War. The Danville Civil War Sesquicentennial Planning Committee and the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and
History assisted the Library on the project. The Library will make the family manuscripts and images available to the public through its Web site and that of the Virginia Commission on the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.

"The visit to Danville revealed how many individuals have Civil War materials that shed light on everyday life during the war and reveal the human face of those involved in the war," said Lyndon Hart III, an archivist with the Library of Virginia. "We hope to secure grant funding to make this scanning effort a statewide effort to preserve these letters and documents." The project is a pilot and will be used to support an application by the Library of Virginia and the Sesquicentennial
Commission for federal grants that will allow the same type of research in every county in the state.

Slideshow of the recent visit to Danville

Related Story    

Commission Receives NEH Funding
August 6, 2008

The Commission is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a planning grant in the amount of $40,000 from the National Endowment for Humanities. The grant is in support of the exhibition, “America’s Great Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia,” which is being developed by the Virginia Historical Society. The exhibition will portray a balanced depiction of the Civil War that includes Union, Confederate and African-American experiences, and will be divided into two parts: battlefront and home front. The NEH praises the plans as “sterling,” noting that it sets the standard for the sesquicentennial. As envisioned, the multi-faceted project has three components: (i) a 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition that will travel to seven sites in Virginia through 2015; (ii) a smaller, mobile exhibition that will travel throughout the state and beyond in a tractor-trailer; and (iii) panel exhibitions that will be available to smaller venues and museums out-of-state.

Sesquicentennial Moments
Occasional Notes for the Virginia Commission on the
Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War

The Commission has initiated a series of brief historical notes on specific events before and during the Civil War. These occasional notes, entitled Sesquicentennial Moments, will be brief, objective, and well-documented overviews of selected important topics of interest to the general reader. Sesquicentennial Moments will be released periodically, with a wide variety of topics that generally parallel what was happening at that time 150 years ago.

See all of the Sesquicentennial Moments.

Commission Meets in Winchester
April 29, 2008

The full Commission met at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and approved a number of items, including a strategic marketing plan, micro-grants to local sesquicentennial committees and a Signature Conference to be chaired by Dr. Edward L. Ayers entitled "America on the Eve of the Civil War," scheduled to take place at the University of Richmond on April 29, 2009. Following the meeting, the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation arranged a tour of Winchester-area Civil War battlefields led by noted author Gary Ecelbarger.

Slideshow of Winchester Meeting and Civil War Sites Tour

Harper's Ferry Tour Dates are Set
October 30, 2007

The Commission is planning a series of Signature Tours and other events that will take place throughout the state during the commemoration period. The national sesquicentennial commemoration begins with the 150th anniversary of John Brown's raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, on October 17, 1859.

The Commission will kick off its tour series at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia on June 25 - 26, 2009. This tour is being planned in cooperation with the State of West Virginia and Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, in support of a year-long series of events commemorating John Brown’s raid.

Plans are still in the preliminary stages, but events may include a joint meeting of Virginia and West Virginia leaders, presentations about the primacy of Harper's Ferry in the coming of the Civil War, and an evening reception and dinner.

National Park Service / Harper's Ferry
John Brown
Photo: National Park Service

Tours will be conducted by Harper's Ferry National Historical Park officials, and may include the lower town of Harpers Ferry and the site of the federal arsenal, Bolivar Heights, Schoolhouse Ridge and the Murphy Farm, covering Stonewall Jackson’s victory of September 15, 1862, immediately preceding the Battle of Antietam.

Slideshow of a recent visit to Harper's Ferry to begin the planning process

Commission Tour of Fredericksburg-Area Civil War Sites by Robert K. Krick, Chief Historian Emeritus, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
September 26, 2007

Following a meeting of the full Commission at Belmont Estate in Stafford, members were treated to a tour of Civil War sites by Robert K. Krick, a highly regarded expert in Fredericksburg-area Civil War engagements. Mr. Krick is the Chief Historian Emeritus of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Slideshow of Fredericksburg Civil War Sites Tour


Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War
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